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Spiderman 3

May 7th, 2007

S3-MaeurikenWell, I got an unusual chance yesterday–to see a movie here in Japan at about the same time it starts showing in the U.S.–in fact, the public sneak previews started even earlier here, but I wanted to go see the film with Sachi. We were able to get good seats because I had visited the theater the day before and got seat assignments–something which only Toho and Warner/Mycal theaters let you do in Japan without extra charge, I think. Strangely, although you can buy your tickets online from those places, they won’t let you get a specific seat–they only allow you to choose a general section of the theater.

In any case, the movie. Super-short summary: not great, but a fair action flick. Slightly longer review: in order to watch this movie, make sure you have set your critical faculties aside and are in full disbelief-suspension mode–even for a fantasy-villain super-hero movie. That goes not just for the mode of how villains are created, but also for personal interactions between the characters. It’s kind of like an incredibly well-budgeted special-effects extravaganza written by someone who couldn’t figure out how to get from A to C so they kind of fudged on B all the time. You start at scene A, which is good, and you arrive at the payoff scene C, which is better; but scene B leaves you shaking your head.

Another problem with the film is villain overload. There are three villains in the movie–or four, depending on how you count them. Hell, even five, in a sense. They do wrap things up fairly (though not perfectly) neatly at the end, but at times you get a bit tired of yet another villain arriving to molest Spidey. It also seems to be an increasing trend: in the first Spiderman, there was one villain; in the second, two. God knows what they have planned for a potential fourth film.

Another quality this film picked up from the second film in the series is the drag-them-down-to-bring-them-up technique of storytelling, except this time they applied it to both Peter Parker and MJ. As the film starts, MJ has a starring role in a broadway musical, and Peter is madly in love with her, getting ready to propose. So, you know things are going to disintegrate. And, of course, that at some point, MJ will be grabbed by the villains and Peter/Spidey will have to rescue her. Don’t worry, I am not giving anything away here, just like I would not be giving anything away to say that in Die Hard 4, there will be highly improbable car chases, stunts, and explosions. It’s established formula by now.

Once you get past all of that, there is some good movie there. As usual for the Spiderman series, the human element of the story is pretty strongly emphasized–the relationships between characters, and the principles of morality involved. But let’s face it: when you go to see a film like Spiderman 3, you go for the action and special effects. And there’s a fairly good amount of that in this film. The nature of the villains and their modes of transport assure it. The flying scenes between Spiderman and Harry or Venom tend to fly by so fast, with so much happening, that it’s almost impossible to take in what’s going on; they seemed to crank the speed of these up to the maximum, testing the limits. The Sandman effects were fairly impressive, and are probably where a fair amount of the $250 million budget went to–but in the end, you have to wonder if it was really necessary to spend that much to get this film.

If you’re into Spiderman or just enjoy super-hero action films, this’ll be worth watching. If not, then not so much; it might be good light fare, but you might want to wait for the film to reach a lower-priced venue to see it.

As I have noted before, American movies often premier late in Japan; Spiderman 3 is an exception. Here’s a list of upcoming movies and when they open. A few open within a few weeks of the US release, but more open more than a month later, with a few coming many months late:

Shrek the Third: USA, May 18; Japan, June 30
Pirates of the Caribbean 3: USA, May 19; Japan, May 25
Ocean’s 13: USA, June 8; Japan, August 11
Surf’s Up: USA, June 8; Japan, January 12, 2008
Fantastic Four: Rise of the Silver Surfer: USA, June 15; Japan, September 29
Live Free or Die Hard: USA, June 27; Japan, August 4
Ratatouille: USA, June 29; Japan, July 28
Transformers: USA, July 4; Japan, August 4
Harry Potter and the Order of the Phoenix: USA, July 13; Japan, July 21

As for films that were already released in the US, 300 comes out in Japan on June 9; Zodiac on June 16; and The Prestige (opened last October in the US), June 9.

The Simpsons Movie, set for a July 27 release in the U.S., doesn’t even have a release date for Japan. Neither does Rush Hour 3–which is rather odd, considering how popular Jackie Chan is here.

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  1. K. Engels
    May 8th, 2007 at 04:12 | #1

    God knows what they have planned for a potential fourth film.

    Spider-man vs. the entire Sinister Six, perhaps? =p

  2. Brad
    May 25th, 2007 at 16:24 | #2

    I believe the ‘International’ premiere of the Harry Potter is going to be in Japan – on the 28th June? – a week or so before the London even (3rd July?) and the Los Angeles opening (8th July?).

    Funny how the regular Japanese theatre schedule doesn’t follow suit, or lags the rest of the world.

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