(Sorry for the lack of posting - sometimes life and blogging get into staring contests. And life always wins.)
So I finally saw Spider-Man 3. I expected to be entertained but disappointed - all the stuff I read about the film had me expecting to find the film overstuffed, with a weak plot, not enough depth, and generally just glossier and less textured than the second film.
So of course it's my favorite of the three Spider-Man films.
The Action. This is the first comic book film where the fights and physics actually felt like they do in the comics and in my imagination - with a remarkably well-balanced blend of exaggerated speed and kinetics with real-feeling physics and three-dimensionality. Each and every "set-piece" - from the Peter/Harry fight, to the crashing crane, to the fight with Sandman, to the final epic battle had the excitement, inventiveness, and sense of hyper-real madness that great comic book fight scenes have. While other modern comic book films films have had some great visuals, this is the first film to get the combination of live action and animation right, with stunningly seamless transition from a CI Spider-Man to Tobey Maguire, for example. And the Sandman may be the best-realized comic book villain ever in terms of how they are able to portray his powers. Gorgeous and remarkably effective.
The Plot - I expected the three villains to be just way too much, but their stories were actually balanced very well, with Harry's amnesia taking the Goblin out of the picture in the middle and the late development of Venom keeping things from getting too crowded - until that big finale, in which the motivations and actions of each of the four superpowered characters were crystal-clear and well-established.
The Fidelity to the Spirit of the Comics - The stack of remarkable coincidences (meteor falls where Spider-Man is; Gwen Stacy just happens to be in the building that gets destroyed; Eddie Brock happens to be in the church where Peter gets rid of the symbiote), instead of being silly and suspension-of-disbelief stretching, felt very faithful to the way plots work and have always worked in the comics. These kinds of coincidences are part and parcel of the super-hero comic book story. Evil Peter, in all his goofy glory, dancing included, also felt faithful to the classic 70s Spidey stories. The plot and feel of the film just felt the most organic and true to the spirit and tone of the classic Spider-Man stories of any of the films.
I am SO going to get crucified for this - but this may well be my favorite superhero film to date