If They Can Do It, Why Can’t I?


(Get ready for a Rant)
I’m going to start off by apologizing for the length of this post. I haven’t even written it yet, and I know it’s gonna be long… probably the longest to date (which for me is ridiculously long). So if you’re not in the mood to read something long, feel free to skim or even skip this post. You probably won’t miss much, but since I haven’t posted in a while, I feel I’m entitled to a long one. Here’s the executive summary for those who are busy but don’t like to skip completely:

  • So far, I’m disappointed about the summer block busters

  • I’m pessimistic about the summer movies that haven’t been released

  • I hated Spiderman so much that I wrote a whole list of reasons I hated it.

  • All this pessimism makes me optimistic. (If Hollywood sucks so bad, why couldn’t I make something at least as sucky or even better?)

On with the post...
Okay, originally, this post was just going to be a review of why I didn’t like Spiderman 3. I started writing a few ideas, but didn’t finish before I saw Shrek the Third and then Pirates of the Caribbean: At Worlds End. Those two weren’t really that great either and they got me thinking, what else do I have to look forward to this summer. As I made my mental checklist, I realized how many movies this summer are sequels or television shows being turned into movies. I couldn’t believe it. Here’s a quick list of what we’ve got to look forward to:

Already Out:

  • Spiderman 3

  • Shrek the Third

  • Pirates of the Caribbean: At Worlds End

Coming Soon:

  • Ocean’s Thirteen

  • Fantastic Four: Rise of the Silver Surfer

  • Evan Almighty

  • Live Free Or Die Hard

  • Transformers

  • Harry Potter and the Order of the Phoenix

  • The Simpsons Movie

  • The Bourne Ultimatum

  • Rush Hour 3

And these are just the films that I think look cool. There’s a whole bunch of other sequels coming out this summer to movies that I didn’t even to bother seeing the first time around. It’s crazy. Not only that, it seems like all the Blockbusters this summer are sequels or TV adaptations. Here’s a challenge for you: without going out and searching IMDB or some other site, name me one movie you’re excited about this summer that’s not a sequel or TV show. I hope you can do it ‘cause I need some original movies to get excited about.

I mean I want to be excited about what’s coming. The trailers to these movies look really cool—especially Transformers, that one practically gave me chills—but I was just remembering how awesome Pirates III looked in the trailer. Heck, almost all trailers make a movie look good. Even Spiderman 3 looked good in the trailer, but it wasn’t. And here’s why:

Okay, before I get into this, I want to be courteous to anyone who may not have seen it and warn you that my “review” will contain some spoilers. I also want to clarify that although I was monumentally disappointed in the movie, I still felt I got my money’s worth because I really liked some of the action sequences and special effects.

The biggest reason I was disappointed in the movie was the story. The plot seemed very contrived and extremely coincidental. I don’t mind when a movie tries to fit in a lot of things, but you have to know your limits. Without any back-story or proper foundation for many of the subplots, the writers had to rely on way too many convenient coincidences. Don’t get me wrong, I don’t expect movies to be realistic or free of coincidences. But even when you enter the realms science fiction of fantasy, you still have to make you story believable. The audience has to buy into what can happen in your fictional world. If there are too many coincidences that don’t seem established, the plot starts to seem very manufactured and artificial. Let me show you what I mean. Below I’m going to list all the coincidences I noticed in Spiderman 3 that seemed overly convenient. Keep in mind, there might be many more coincidences in the movie that I didn’t notice or that I don’t remember since it’s been about three weeks since I’ve seen it; and yes, I only saw it once.

Convenient Coincidences:

  • Venom goop lands within a few yards of spidey while he’s making out and he doesn’t notice it or pick it up with his super-keen spidey senses. He then drives right next to it so it can latch on to his scooter. If we knew more about the goop, maybe it wouldn’t seem like a huge coincidence that of all the millions of square miles on the planet it fell right next to him. Is it some alien life form with intelligence of its own? Has it been watching spidey? Did it purposely pick to crash land near him for his powers? We don’t know, and worse, we never really get to know a whole lot about it other than it brings out the worst in people and gives them super powers.

  • Sandman is running through downtown New York being chased by cops one minute, then, the next minute he’s somehow out in the middle of nowhere in some sort of Government testing facility. How did this happen? It sure seems like he’s back in the city right away afterwards. Is there a mystical teleportation gate somewhere in Manhattan? If so, I’d like to visit it when I got there this summer.

  • Sandman happens to fall into the sand just as the scientists happen to cue up an experiment for who knows what and they happen to mistake him for a bird, oh yeah and instead of killing him, the experiment happens to turn him into living sand. With a little more setup, I’d probably have no problem buying into this. After all, I bought into Spidey getting his powers from being bitten by a genetically engineered spider.

  • Sandman happens to be the guy the killed Uncle Ben. Yes, that’s right. The one guy in the world spidey would get really mad at just happens to also get super powers. See how all these chance happenings are starting to get a little overwhelming?

  • Spidey saves a girl who is not only some sort of model, but also happens to be his lab partner in his chemistry class. All professional models have to study chemistry, right?

  • This same girl also happens to be dating the photographer who is trying to steal Spidey’s job as photographer.

  • The same girl (who is Spidey’s lab partner and the girl he saved and subsequently kissed) happens to enter the same restaurant where Spidey is just about to propose to his girlfriend. How often do you see someone you know in a restaurant? Do you live in New York where there are like a zillion more people and zillion more restaurants than most places?

  • Topher (I can’t remember his character’s name), the only person in the world who has reason to hate Peter Parker (not hate Spiderman—a lot of criminals probably hate him without knowing he’s Peter Parker) other than his best friend Harry (who already happens to have super powers) just happens to be in the Church where Spidey decides to go and free himself of the Venom goop. Oh, and of course he also happens to go investigate when he hears Spidey freeing himself and some of the goop happens to fall on him. I know when I hear agonized screaming mixed with church bells, I always run to find out what’s going on.

Again, individually I really don’t have a problem with any of these coincidences, but as they start to pile up during the movie, I find myself less and less able to lose myself in the story. Instead I just watch it as something someone created. I start to analyze the cinematography and the acting and the editing and so on. Now I love to analyze those things, but if a movie is really good, then I have to do it on the second or third viewing because for the first viewing I’m not seeing actors or camera angles, I’m just seeing a story unfold and I forget to care about those other things. The actors become their characters instead of actors doing a decent job portraying characters and… well you get the idea.

The next reason I was disappointed also relates to the plot. Even with all the convenient coincidences, the writers evidently still weren’t able move the plot along how they wanted, so they also had to go back and change a few things from the first movie to help move things along. This really pisses me off, because now, not only did they ruin the third installment, they’ve also tainted the first Spiderman—which I really liked. I will now longer be able to watch that one without being reminded of how some of the plot points from it are later changed. Here’s what I mean:

  • Spidey didn’t really kill Uncle Ben’s killer as we were shown in the first movie, that guy actually had an accomplice who was the one that killed Uncle Ben.

  • The Goblin didn’t really die immediately when his flying sled nearly cut him in half in the first movie. No, what really happened is that he was somehow still alive when Spiderman dropped him off back at the mansion and the loyal butler cared for him and tended his wounds until he died.

  • Speaking of loyal butler since when did The Osborns steal “Alfred” from the Waynes? I don’t really remember him an either of the first two movies. Near the end of the Spiderman 3, after Harry tells Spidey that he won’t help him, the family butler steps forward to tell Harry how much he loves the Osborn family and reveals to Harry that he knows Spidey didn’t kill his father. A few problems with this:

  1. Since when are butlers forensic scientists? Who is he to say that Spiderman didn’t fly the sled into Norman Osborn? He really had no way to know this information.

  2. Why didn’t he say anything before? The situation should have been apparent to him long before this time.

  3. Why would he be a loyal the Osborns? I mean Alfred, the loyal butler in Batman had every reason to be the Butler who is almost a family member. The Waynes were philanthropists. Great, kind, loving people. Norman Osborn was a jerk—even before he became the Goblin. He was a self-absorbed power monger who was more worried about money than he was about his own son. That’s why he made such a great, believable villain (unlike the Sandman who is really just a nice guy trying to help his daughter). Anybody else remember this from the first movie? Why would a butler be loyal to him and his family? Why? Because he makes a very convenient Deus Ex Machina to unite Harry and Spidey for the final battle.

The third main reason I was disappointed was Super Emo Peter. I’m stealing this term for my little sister as the way to describe the version of Peter Parker when his hair is greased down and he pops his collar and looks like a complete idiot. What was up with this guy? Here’s the thing. I really don’t have a problem with the fact that he looked ridiculous. If that’s what the venom goop does to him, so be it. What I did have a problem with are the conflicting ways that women reacted to it. In some scenes, Emo Peter seemed to get the reaction I would expect from women to someone that looked liked that; i.e. they looked at him with disgust and revulsion. However, in other scenes it seemed to have the opposite effect and now Super Emo Peter had some sort of mystical power over women as if they couldn’t resist his Emo-ness. The worst part is, it didn’t just change once. They kept going back and forth! Make up your mind. I will buy either one, but not both. It was almost as if the writers disagreed what effect would be more funny so they just compromised and went with both.

Finally, one other point that Steve brought up: Why is Peter Parker still so stinking poor? This one really wouldn’t bother me all that much if I weren’t looking for things to be bothered by, but since I am…. I mean, he’s the only photographer that can get good pictures of Spidey. He’s a photographer with Spidey skills and Spidey sense. AND he’s also a genius nerd. About the only time it’s not cool to be extremely smart and nerdy is High School. Everyone knows that when it comes to the real world, nerds make really good money. I’m not saying they’re always Bill Gates—not all nerds have his business sense—but nerds are always very employable because of their superior technical skills and intelligence.

Top it all off with some one-dimensional characters, some less-than-great acting, and some noticeable CG gaffs, and you have a movie that is making way more money than it deserves.

Wow, this is getting long. Well, I knew it would before I even started. The sad thing is, I could go on for nearly just as long with all the reasons I was disappointed in Pirates 3… but I won’t… at least not in this post.

The not-so-sad thing is that I look at all this and can’t help but believe there are other people out there who, like me, are starving for great, original stories. If this is the best Hollywood can come up with, and if this unoriginal garbage can make millions, why shouldn’t I go after my dream and keep writing and dinking around with movie making in my spare time? Shouldn’t I be able to come up with something at least as bad as Spiderman? Easier yet, couldn’t I come up with something on par with some of the sequels that got made and are coming out this summer that didn’t even make my list above? I believe I can!

Linda Winegar

My greatest blessings call me Mom.