Money talks, but it doesn't write all that well, and it can scarcely direct a movie at all. Spider-Man 3, which we are told is the most successful new film release in history, beating even Pirates of the Caribbean 2, and prompting Sony Pictures to offer three more sequels straight off, is more of a mess than you can quite believe. Pieces of plot float in from nowhere, supernatural characters develop new sets of powers in mid-scene, all the most soppy and obvious scenes are played as if they were Ibsen and all the jokes have been replaced by weary memories of what the movies used to be like - what the two previous Spider-Man movies were like, I mean. American critics have more or less universally panned the new film, but someone is laughing all the way to the bank, and probably laughing even more in the bank as they actually count the money. Spider-Man performed well at the box office, but Spider-Man 2, by far the most interesting of the three, did poorly. Why do I wish the critical lessons of history were not so obvious? And is anyone looking forward to the rest of the season's 'threequels', as they are now called: Shrek the Third and the third Pirates of the Caribbean?
LRB 24 May 2007 | PDF Download