Saturday, May 12, 2007

The tangled commercial web of profits

Spider Man 3 (2007, Director Sam Raimi): Rating 5/10

They did it, they finally did it. It took them 3 tries but the studios finally turned one of the most introspective comic book heroes into a joke. And in doing so, they realized my fears from 5 years ago. Against all opinion, I didn't watch the first two Spider Man films in the theater. The trailers for the first film didn't impress me and I couldn't get over how they chose Tobey Maguire as the lead -- I was afraid they would ruin the Spider Man character that I loved so much. But thankfully common sense prevailed and in 2005, I rented the second film. I absolutely loved it (gave it a rating of 10/10) and went back and saw the first one as well. I even enjoyed the first one (rating of 8/10) but in both films, I highlighted the negative aspect as Kirsten Dunst -- terrible acting and well, just painfully annoying.

And then when I found out that the third movie would have Venom, I was excited. I always felt that the best Spider Man story involved Venom -- it was the ultimate test of Peter's inner strength. However, the trailers made me change my mind again. Too many villains and more focus on special effects. So with some hesitation, I walked into the third film. And sure enough, all the fears I had came true -- Tobey was made to look out of sorts, Dunst was terrible as usual, the story was pathetic, too many plot elements and not enough time dedicated to study Venom. And the only reason I think Sandman was selected because of the cool special effects. Otherwise, the film could have done without him.

Also, there are some many contrived elements in the film like the brain dead cheering crowds and Spidey flying past the American flag on his way to rescue MJ. The film is shown to be in the year 2005 yet there is not a single person with a digital camera or cell-phone camera to take a picture of Spidey as he is jumping mask-less across the city. The film includes musical themes from the old (bad) Spider Man cartoon. I think that is appropriate as this does feel like a B-movie. But my rant is just that, a rant. It does not matter. This movie has made plenty of money and the studios will create more pathetic efforts and keep making more money. Do they really care? It seems that every 2-3 years, all the sequel movies are getting dumbed down even further for a younger audience. The Matrix was an intelligent film released back in 1999. But when 4 years later the second and third films were released, they were converted into brain dead studio films or in the case of the second one, a hollow film with enough rambling to make it look intelligent for teenage boys. Likewise, the first Pirates film was fun but the second was unwatchable. I am sure all the big movies this summer will make tons of movies and as a result more and more stupid sequels will be made until the future of Mike Judge's Idiocracy is fully realized, a movie that didn't make it out to the theaters.

Training Day (2001, Director Antoine Fuqua): Rating 7.5/10

Good cop, bad cop. A question of ethics and morality. Just when the good and bad are clearly defined, a grayish meter is shown which indicates that in order to fight crime, pure good can't survive against pure evil. And then suddenly, the tables are turned again and we do realize the gray scale was an illusion -- it is pure evil vs good. Seconds before good is wiped out for sure, a previous act of goodness saves him. Even though this act might feel like a contrived element, it could be seen as an example of the power of Karma -- if one commits even one act of good, it will lead to a favourable outcome. In most cases, it takes decades for Karma to act but since everything in this film is squeezed into one action packed day, even Karma has to act fast. In end, the film is powered by Denzel Washington's stellar performance. The background music is very good as it eludes to the danger lurking around the corner. But the movie is longer than it should be (almost 2 hours) and contains some typical cop movie elements (good cop that can't be killed).

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