Tuesday, August 21, 2007

third time's an absolute bastard

it's difficult to go to see a film without pre-conceived ideas that will inevitably effect how you view the film. for example: trilogies. if i go to see the third part of a trilogy i will inevitably assume it's going to be underwhelming at best, and this tends to be the case. it's like the cat in the box, except i know the poor bastard's dead from the stench coming out of the box. you might call it cynical, but you'd be wrong. a pub discussion (the best kind, alcohol produces the kind of truths that sobriety would never dare utter) on the matter couldn't produce a single legitimate trilogy where the third installment was better, or even as good as, the first two. the best people could come up with was: the return of the king, indiana jones and scary movie (my mate's an idiot). compared to the vast backlog of pure unadulterated shit that is the world of triologies this list stands up about as well as a crippled jellyfish with lukemia.

so why, why, (oh god) why do they keep getting made? at the cinema all the posters bar one were for sequels: die hard 4, shrek the third, 28 weeks later, the fantastic four, and pirates of the carribean. i can't help but feel that all these films are the movie equivalent of drinking hp sauce straight from the bottle, unnecessary and kind of nauseating. but there's no denying they're superb money spinners. the bovine public seem more than happy to hurl their money at the next hollywood franchise that wasn't even that good in the first place. i don't understand why so many rational and intelligent people enjoy sucking down pirates of the carribean's rancid love juice so much. it's just one fucking character, that's it. there is nothing else to these films. if you want to watch johnny depp as a funny character in a good film, watch fear and loathing in las vegas. stop telling me it's going to be amazing because of moments such as keith richards playing his dad, because that makes you a liar.

so sequels get made because the originals were successful. sadly it's this initial film's success which invariably means the sequels are going to suck hermaphrodite testes. the matrix: first film was stunning. and successful. so there has to be a sequel! so let's do the same, but more! people love that! and there's never the same level of imagination or originality as was in the first film, because the first film was unique, so they bollocks the whole thing up completely. you can say the same for the likes of shrek. shrek was again an unexpected, hilarious parody of disney tales. they could just about keep it through shrek 2 by throwing in more gags, but the steam will run out by the third. there will be too many repeated jokes, the characters won't have anywhere else to go and the whole thing won't match up to comedy of the first one. don't worry, i'm not a psychic. it happens with every trilogy like this (austin powers, american pie, naked gun) deep in your heart you know it's going to be the same for shrek.

trilogies that are written as one body of work tend to be better. lord of the rings was conceived and written as an entire story, not as stand-alone segments. and peter jackson had the clever idea of filming them all at once, so it feels like a continuous whole. everyone has a different opinion on which part is the best, or whether any of them are good, but it's difficult to find a consensus on which one is by far the worst. most trilogies aren't put together and filmed in this way. it has to be done on a film by film basis. which is why hollywood has fallen in love with comic books. there's an onverwhelming wealth of untapped source material in the comic books industry. film makers don't have to worry about coming up with new storylines and characters for their unexpected sequels, they're all ready-made by someone else! this does mean that thankfully sequels such as X2 manage to surpass the originals because they have to hand a number of pre-written options, but they still couldn't escape the trilogy trap with the abysmal X3.

speaking of trilogies and comic books, the latest spider-man movie came out on the 4th of may. this is the 'dark' one. the big kahuna. and it's the third part. fuck. this time round peter parker (tobey maguire) starts of happy, everyone loves spider-man, he loves mj (kirsten dunst) and everyone loves just about everything. cue everything rapdily spiralling into shitsville, with misunderstandings, awkward moments and even a bout of amnesia all thrown in within the first half an hour. then it just goes from bad to worse when a black liquid alien symbiot thing combines with spider-man's suit affecting his personality. in come villains, more heartache and back-stabbing with a suitable dramatic set-piece finish. no surprises there then.

unlike other films of this nature, spider-man has always focused more on the character of peter parker, with the villains being ridiculous superflous extras to laugh manically and fight every now and again. this approach is fine when the protagonist has an interesting story to tell. which is why it's such a shame that opportunity was missed here. i was hoping for a story that really shows the descent of spider-man from this hero with everything going right for him, into this dark, twisted character who has lost his principals and moral compass. the fact that he kills someone should be a key moment. spider-man never kills people. but they just state it and move on, with no exploration whatsoever. all they do is give him a daft fucking fringe and make him a bit of a cock. the scene where peter parker is strutting down the street, winking at girls and buying fancy new clothes isn't somone who's battling with their inner rage and thirst for revenge, it's someone who's asking for batman to glass them in the face.

and there's nothing much else in there to redeem this film from the depressingly half-arsed story. the afore mentioned villains appear when needed but that's about it. thomas hayden church as the sandman tries his hardest to get some kind of character going, but not enough to actually make you care. one minute he's smashing the shit out of anything that moves, the next he's crying into a locket and saying he doesn't want to hurt anyone. venom's hideously underused and when he does finally appear he's an even bigger cock than spider-man. but not in a cool way. in a, "just fuck off you annoying little shit" kind of way.

but it's not all bad, there are some hilarious moments, unintentional as they may be. when a character jumps a fence with a sign saying, "WARNING. PARTICLE PHYSICS TESTING IN PROGRESS. DO NOT ENTER." you know there's going to be enough bad science to keep you chuckling. but the prize has to go to the moment when spider-man is heroically running into the final fight across buildings with the crowd cheering below as the american flag flutters in the sky behind him. it's the kind of patriotic atrocity that i'd expect to be edited out of releases outside of the US, but it did make me laugh. the special effects and action sequences are as action-packed and as entertaining as ever, but that's just a given nowadays with computer graphics being what they are. still impressive.

this film also made me realise how cut and paste a lot of hollywood scenes are nowadays. as soon as anyone mentions feelings, revenge, talks to themselves in a mirror, dies, in fact does anything vaguely emotional, i get this sharp centred attack of boredom on my brain. it's because i've seen the same scene re-done time and time again in every other hollywood blockbuster. everyone knows what's going to happen, what people are going to say, can't we just show one frame of the scene so everyone can go, 'oh ok, that's what happened', before moving on with the rest of the film, instead of lingering on it for fucking hours. in fact you could probably show most blockbuster films using this method in about six frames, saving me two hours of my life which i'm never getting back.

maybe i've been a bit harsh on spider-man 3. it's because i've been let down time and time again by trilogies, and i don't want to get hurt again.

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