Wednesday, June 14, 2017

Recap: "Spider-Man 3" Part 2: A Spider Steep'd

Okay, okay, I'm done referring to Peter's webs as "secretions."  I mean, I probably won't get another chance, since organic webshooters aren't too common in Spider-Man adaptations, but I'm starting to gross myself out.

I mean, the guy just secretes on everything.
Over downtown, there's an out-of-control crane on top of a building, threatening to cause all sorts of havoc. In a neighboring building, Gwen Stacy is being photographed as part of her modeling job. Gwen Stacy never exactly had a career in the comics, since she died at a young age. So this film made her into a model, which is what Mary Jane was in the comics.

I say if they were going to put her in Peter's class, then they should have gone whole hog with making her a science geek.

Maybe have her work at a theme park filled with dinosaurs, or something?
You could even make Stegron be the villain!
In fact, this ends up being exactly what they did with her, come the reboot. The science geek thing, not the dinosaur thing.

Anyway, the crane's I-beam smashes through the window, nearly killing everybody inside and sending down debris to narrowly and improbably miss the people below. One of the people below is Captain George Stacy, who tells an officer to call the power station and have them shut down power to the block, since the crane can't be turned off manually.

The crane swings back for another swipe at the building Gwen's in, leaving her dangling from the edge as Topher Grace arrives to take some pictures.

Topher Grace: "Oh my God. That's Gwen."

Captain Stacy grabs Topher's camera and zooms in to confirm that his daughter is in danger.

Captain Stacy: "What's she doing up there?"
Topher Grace: "I don't know, I just saw her last night. She said she had a modeling gig."

So Topher introduces himself.

Topher Grace: "It's Brock, sir. Edward Brock Jr."

"I'm at your service, sir. I have been looking for you."
"I'm getting nervous."
"Sir."
Sorry about that strange interlude. Eddie Brock always introduces himself as "Brock, sir," and referring to Turn Off the Dark in the last Recap set my brain on a Broadway track.

Anyway, yes, this is Edward Brock Jr, Daily Bugle photographer.

Eddie Brock: "And I'm dating your daughter."

Speaking of Captain Stacy's daughter, Spider-Man arrives on the scene and manages to save her by catching her during her fall and swinging to safety.

"Lucky."
Gwen runs over to hug her dad as Eddie comes over to try and schmooze his way into being Spidey's new photographer.

Spider-Man: "They got a guy."
Eddie Brock: "Who, Parker? Um, yeah, look, just between you and me, guy's kind of an amateur."

"I mean, it's like he just puts the camera on a timer and walks away."
Eddie Brock: "Have you noticed his stuff makes you look a little bloated? Just... yeah, a little chunky."

Eddie snaps some shots as Spidey slings off, and we cut to the Bugle, where Oscar-winner J.K. Simmons does that voodoo that he do so well.

Jameson: "Dazzle me."

Hoffman is in JJJ's office, trying to sell him on a new slogan for the Bugle. Jameson doesn't have much patience for Hoffman, but is interrupted by his desk vibrating when he yells. Apparently, Jameson's blood pressure is getting pretty high, and Betty Brant has installed a device to alert him when he needs to calm down.

He shouldn't be smoking, then. I learned that from M*A*S*H.
Hoffman's bit continues like something from out of a workplace sitcom, which is mercifully interrupted by Betty Brant vibrating JJJ's desk, alerting him that it's time to take a pill.

He reaches for the wrong pills several times, earning him a loud buzz and... I'm sorry, as much as I love J. Jonah Jameson, is this really necessary? We can just blast right ahead through Harry's stint as a villain and cut out most of Flint Marko's story (I'll elaborate soon), but we really need to take a moment to laugh at Hoffman and Betty Brant?

Eddie finally shows up to get something resembling a plot going by doing what he does best. Schmoozing. Eddie sneaks into JJJ's office when Hoffman gets thrown out, allowing him to try and sell some Spider-Man pics while sucking up as hard as he can.

Eddie Brock: "Brock, sir. Edward Brock Jr. Wow, can I just say I really like that shirt?"

Peter comes along and Betty tells him to get in there, since Eddie's young, scrappy, and hungry, and he's not throwing away his shots... of Spider-Man. Peter walks in, and his pictures are compared to Eddie's.

Eddie Brock: "How'd you get that? I didn't see you there. How'd you get so high?"

"Ladder? Plane? Huge bag of weed?"
Peter Parker: "Climbed. Nearly fell off a flagpole."
Eddie Brock: "A flagpole?"

He does get on a lot of flagpoles.
But JJJ prefers Eddie's picture, which is better and cheaper, and Eddie begins launching into his philosophy on photography, which ends with a request for a staff job.

Eddie Brock: "I have a girl that I intend to marry and I guess, I don't know, I have this stupid little dream of working with one of the greatest newspaper editors of our time. J. Jonah Jameson."

There is indeed an opening since Johnson quit...

Robbie Robertson: "You fired him."
Jameson: "Whatever."

...but Peter rightfully points out that Eddie Brock just got here, while he's been freelancing exclusively for the Daily Bugle for years.

You know, you'd think JJJ would jump at the chance to replace Peter with a guy who can get Spider-Man photos and didn't steal away his son's bride-to-be, but he's hearing out Peter's side of the issue.

Jameson: "You want a staff job, you want a staff job... anybody care about what I want?"
Hoffman: "I do."
Jameson: "Shut up. Get out."

As ever, JJJ wants the city of New York to hate Spider-Man with a burning passion.

Jameson: "Catch him in the act. Spider-Man with his hand in a cookie jar. Whoever brings me that photo gets a job."

Oh, no problem, then. All Peter needs to do is take a selfie of his hand in a cookie jar.

After telling Eddie that he'll never get that shot, Peter heads out onto the streets of New York, spotting a news announcement that Spider-Man will recieve the key to the city in an upcoming ceremony for saving the daughter of a police captain.

And standing next to Peter is an old man with a little bit of wisdom.

Stan Lee: "You know, I guess one person can make a difference."

"I mean, just by myself, I've brought life-changing tragedy to so many scientists. Always works out for the best, though."
Stan Lee: "'Nuff said."

"I'll see you when you look like Andrew Garfield."
"What?"
"Don't worry about it."
Later that day, Harry's butler welcomes him home from the hospital. Peter's there with his old basketball as a homecoming present, and the two reminisce about trying out for the varsity team just to meet cheerleaders.

Harry Osborn: "Hey, do I have any girlfriends?"

"If so, I should dump them for not visiting me in the hospital."
Harry and Peter look around Harry's penthouse, but things get a little serious when Harry finds the portrait of his dad.

Harry Osborn: "Just wish I could remember more about him."
Peter Parker: "Well, he loved you. That's the main thing."

Peter tries to get him out of his funk by tossing the basketball, which bounces off a pedestal, knocking down a vase. Impressively, Harry catches both the ball and the vase, which alarms Peter. Harry can't believe what he just did, though, and has a big ol' grin on his face.

But you know who doesn't have a grin on their face? Mary Jane. Because she's just arrived at the theatre to find herself replaced. Apparently, her agent forgot to call her to actually let her know.

Mary Jane: "One critic?"
Director: "No. All the papers, dear."

Oh, for the love of- fire the sound guy.

They offer to make something up for her to save face, like an illness or something, but she just walks away in silence. Her spirits lift when she gets outside and discovers applause waiting for her... but the applause is for Spider-Man swinging by.

Soon enough, it's time for even more Spider-Man-aimed applause at the big celebration. Peter enjoys himself as Eddie arrives on the scene to take pictures of his girlfriend, the lovely Miss Gwen Stacy.

Eddie Brock: "You're so beautiful. This is front-page stuff."

He tries to set up another date with her, but she's got other things to do. Even after that "amazing... amazing" night they spent together.

Gwen Stacy: "We had coffee, Eddie."

Peter arrives on the scene to do the same thing...

...but it's pretty easy to see where his head's really at.
Mary Jane lies and says that everything's fine when Peter asks, which... You know, lack of communication is the biggest problem with these two, but it's understandable that MJ doesn't want to ruin Peter's special day. But Peter unknowingly makes things worse for MJ by telling her that they'll be laughing about that negative review in no time, but she does a good job of keeping her true feelings hidden. Perhaps these two shouldn't have taken "Talk less, smile more" as relationship advice.

Elsewhere, Flint Marko gets spotted by some cops as he walks down the street. They follow him, but they lose him behind a truck, leading them to believe that he jumped inside.

A guy with sand powers just happens to find a big truck o' sand to hide in. What are the odds?
Now, Flint Marko has the ability to turn himself into sand, meaning that if he stays still long enough, the cops will assume that he isn't in the big truck o' sand and look elsewhere. Flint opts instead to make a giant sand body to menace the cops with. When they fire at him, he turns into a dust devil and whips away.

As Gwen Stacy gives her speech, Harry Osborn walks up to MJ to say hi and have a nice little reunion. Harry seems to be a-okay with his cranial trauma, since he can't remember any of his angst.

Harry Osborn: "Bump on the head, I'm as free as a bird."

We'll just have to see if this bird can change, then.

Mary Jane: "Will you bump me on the head?"

He playfully obliges and asks about her play. He says he'll come again so he can remember it this time, but Mary Jane says that she was fired.

Harry Osborn: "What happened?"
Mary Jane: "I wasn't very good."

"And the sound guy who screwed my mic up is the producer's nephew."
Harry Osborn: "You know, this is embarrassing, but I once wrote you a play in high school."

The only options are to find that creepy or sweet. MJ decides on the latter.

You know, James Franco and Kirsten Dunst have more chemistry than she has with Tobey Maguire. I can't help but want to see these two together, all things considered.

Peter's relationship with MJ is based on the fact that she developed a crush on her anonymous rescuer in the first film. Sure, he has his sweet moments, but she only left John Jameson at the altar after discovering Spider-Man's secret identity. All things considered, Harry Osborn was the best relationship she ever had.

Yes, Harry was way out of line when he yelled at her during the first movie, but you know what? Harry was caught in the middle of the Spider-Man/Norman Osborn feud, and Harry's need to win his father's approval conflicted with his feelings for Mary Jane. Does that excuse what he did? No, not at all. But a mistake under such circumstances is understandable. After all, he's only human. Can you honestly say you've never snapped at a loved one?

But Mary Jane developed her little crush on Spider-Man. And unfortunately for her, Spider-Man happened to be Peter Parker.

Speaking of him, he's on a nearby rooftop, just soaking it all in.

Boy, it's a good thing that absolutely nobody is looking in this direction.
Peter Parker: "They love me!"

"You know what? I am wonderful."
He masks up and swoops down as the marching band plays the 60s Spider-Man theme, making the series 3-for-3 when it comes to that song. Spidey plays to the crowd, handing out the highest of fives, and attempting to turn into Captain Marvel.

Spider-Man: "Shazam!"

He ends up upside down over the stage as the crowd starts yelling "Kiss her!" over and over. So he gives Gwen permission to do just that, alarming a single boy in the crowd.

Boy: "No, Spider-Man, no!"

"Carlie Cooper forever! Carlie Cooper forever!"
Much to Mary Jane's chagrin, Gwen plants a big stage kiss on the wall-crawler.

And... you know, I understand why Mary Jane's upset after the day she's had, but I don't think she should be making such a big deal out of this.

Let's break it down.

Why is Mary Jane upset?

"Because Spider-Man kissed another woman," one might think.

And yet... that's incredibly hypocritical of her. She's an actress. There's no doubt in my mind that if she had to kiss somebody on stage, she would. And that's pretty much what Peter's doing as Spider-Man: playing the role for an audience.

"Yeah, but that's their special kiss! The upside down kiss is Peter and MJ's special kiss!" one might reply.

Okay. Fair point. But let me put up a picture from Spider-Man 2.

Picture presented without comment.
Okay, yes, she kissed John Jameson upside down to see if she could recapture the magic from the first kiss and see if she could spend the rest of her life with him... but she still kissed him upside down. She kissed one other person upside down, and so did Peter. Seems fair to me.

But even if I think she's overreacting, Mary Jane does have a right to be upset at the situation. If this makes her uncomfortable, then it makes it uncomfortable, and that's something she needs to bring up with Peter and talk about like healthy couples do.

But not now, because some kind of sandstorm passes by the ceremony before it attacks an armored car. Once again, Spider-Man is needed. The web-head arrives on the scene with his fists at the ready, discovering that punches don't really work against a guy who breaks apart into sand. But they do work against Spider-Men, and our hero gets knocked out of the runaway armored car, allowing the movie to try and top the train chase from the last film by having Spidey surf on the broken door of the armored car.

The fight against the granulated adversary continues...

...including a bit where Sandman literally gets his legs kicked out from under him.
But in the end, the car crashes and the Sandman escapes, meaning that Spidey has nothing to do but get the ground corn sand out of his costume.

Spider-Man: "Where do all these guys come from?"

Yeah, all the superfreaks ending up in the same city? What are the odds?

I mean, all the weirdos in the world are right here in New York City. All the brazen boys and girls, dressed to kill without pity. All the weirdos in the world are here in New York City tonight.

But tonight is also the night that Peter plans on proposing to his girlfriend. He couldn't be more excited, but she has to see pictures of Spider-Man kissing Gwen Stacy during her walk.

Once at the restaurant, Peter walks over to the very French maitre'd to plan something special.

"You look familiar."
"Yeah, probably. It's very hard for me to hold down a job."
And yeah, when I say very French....

Maitre'd: "Table feur teuu: Peckeh."
Peter Parker: "Parker."
Maitre'd: "That iss what ah said. Peckah."

They had to cut out Sandman's quest to fund a cure for his daughter's unspecified illness, but we have enough time for Inspector Clouseau here?

Anyway, Peter and the maitre'd work together to plan something special for Mary Jane.

Maitre'd: "Romance! I am French."

Sure you are, Bruce.

Peter will signal the staff at a certain moment, and they'll come over with champagne and some music. Said champagne will have the ring in one of the glasses, so I guess Mary Jane's going to choke on some jewelry.

Everything is planned out, including the music that Peter requests from the musicians.

"I'm not sure zey know ze Power Rangers theme, but I'll ask."
"Power Rangers in Space, specifically. That's the best one."
"...Oui"
Peter sits down and plans out what he's going to do, in one of the dorkiest things Peter Parker has ever done, which is cut short by Mary Jane's arrival. She's surprised that he's able to afford such a nice meal.

Peter Parker: "Oh, well, it's a special occasion."

"Also, you're paying for your own meal. And mine."
Peter Parker: "You're on Broadway." 
Mary Jane: "I don't feel like much of a star tonight."
Peter Parker: "Well, you are a star. And you've earned it."
Mary Jane: "Peter... you have no idea how I feel right now."

Correct thing to say: "How do you feel?"

Peter Parker: "Oh, no, I know exactly how you feel. Listen, I have been through this. It happens to me all the time."

Don't mention Spider-Man, don't mention Spider-Man...

Peter Parker: "I see Spider-Man posters in the window..."

Oh, crap.

Peter Parker: "Kids running around with me on their sweaters- big Halloween item. I don't know, I guess I've become something of an icon."

Just... one question, Peter. What do you think any of that has to do with Mary Jane's Broadway frustrations?

"I mean, how would you describe me, MJ? Great hero? Or the greatest hero?"
Peter Parker: "Like, yesterday, they kept screaming 'Spider-Man! Spider-Man!' I don't know, you know, I mean, I'm thinking to myself, 'I'm just a nerdy kid from Queens. Do I deserve this?"
"And the answer, of course, is yes."
Here's the thing. Peter is not paying attention to Mary Jane. Not just because he won't shut up about himself, but because he's not reading her body language to know that his humblebragging isn't helping.

This is not the expression of a woman who's about to say yes to the dress.
And because of Peter's lack of attention toward MJ, what happens next is even more unfortunate.

Gwen Stacy: "Hi, Pete!"

Gwen and her parents are in the middle of dinner, and she introduces herself to Mary Jane.

"Hi, I’m Gwen Stacy, I'll be the love interest for the next two films."
Gwen Stacy: "Pete talks about you all the time."

Which, objectively, means that Peter loves his girlfriend enough to talk about her to another woman. Unfortunately, this also means that Peter hangs out with that woman he kissed onstage "all the time." Oh, what tangled webs we weave indeed.

To make matters worse, Gwen asks for a picture of her kiss with Spider-Man to bring to class.

Gwen Stacy: "After all, who gets kissed by Spider-Man, right?"
Mary Jane: "...I can't imagine."

So let's recap.

Peter Parker is becoming self-absorbed, making it difficult for MJ to discuss her personal issues with him.

He kissed the lab partner he hangs out with all the time (that he never mentioned to Mary Jane) using the "special kiss" in front of thousands of people.

While I may have picked apart each individual part of the situation, Mary Jane is sort of justified in assuming that Peter doesn't care about her. All the evidence seems to point in that direction.

Mary Jane: "She's your lab partner? You saved her life? She thinks you're a genius, and she had her polished fingernails all over you? Or didn't you notice? And she gave Spider-Man the key to the city."

Cheating would seem to be the logical conclusion to jump to here.

Mary Jane: "Let me ask you something. When you kissed her... who was kissing her? Spider-Man? Or Peter?"

See, the problem here is that Mary Jane believes she lives in a rational world, rather than one that revolves around coincidence. In a rational world, this would be beyond "coincidence." In this world, it's just another Tuesday. Gwen Stacy is just Peter's lab partner. Everything else is the usual set of infinitely improbable occurrences that involve secret double lives.

And if these two human beings were actually capable of communicating with each other, then maybe they could work through this. Heck, they probably could have dealt with some of these problems already.

Mary Jane: "That was our kiss!"

Picture presented again without comment.
Mary Jane: "Why would you do that? You must have known how it'd make me feel."

There's a saying that I think every couple should keep in mind. "Never assume malice when stupidity will do."

Sometimes people do things without thinking about how it will affect people around them. And sometimes, people have crowds yelling at them. I mean, what was Spider-Man going to do, say "no" and disappoint the whole city?

Except this kid, of course.
But Peter and Mary Jane fail to resolve their issues tonight, and MJ leaves early as the champagne is brought out.

"Dammit, I still have to pay for this."
And so, for the third movie in a row, we get a scene where Peter calls Mary Jane. Luckily, the Green Goblin doesn't answer this time. But just like last time, he just kind of mutters and rambles until he hangs up. The phone suddenly rings, but it's not Mary Jane. It's the cops. They want to see him and his aunt down at the station.

Once there, Captain Stacy informs the Parkers that new evidence has come to light in the murder of Ben Parker. Apparently, the guy who robbed the wrestling manager's office was not the man who fired the gun. According to eyewitnesses, the real killer was the man's partner: Flint Marko. Apparently, the case was reopened after Marko confessed to his cellmate.

As George Stacy explains that Marko escaped, Peter envisions what it must have looked like when Marko killed Uncle Ben in cold blood. And he lashes out at Captain Stacy for keeping these suspicions secret for years.

Captain Stacy: "Settle down."
Peter Parker: "No, I have no intention of settling down!"

"Unless you meant with my girlfriend, 'cause I was gonna propose to her!"
Peter heads home and angrily taps his finger on the mantlepiece while the police scanner taunts him with a police report that sounds a lot like Uncle Ben's murder. Then Mary Jane shows up to try and help him through these new developments.

Mary Jane: "I don't want you to do something stupid."
Peter Parker: "Like try to find my uncle's killer?"

"Yeah, it's surprisingly hard, isn't it? I sort of gave up."
Mary Jane: "And do something you'll regret. Like with that other guy." 
Peter Parker: "He had a gun on me. I made a move and he fell. I told you that."
Mary Jane: "I'm not accusing you of anything."

"But if I were, it would be pushing that guy out a window."
MJ tries to be there for Peter, but he declines any help.

Mary Jane: "Everybody needs help sometimes, Peter. Even Spider-Man."

It's been a long, trying couple of days, so Peter ends up falling asleep in costume while waiting for news of the Sandman on his police scanner. As Peter has nightmares of his uncle's killer, that alien goo creature decides that it wants to be in the movie again. So while Peter sleeps, it envelops him.

When Peter wakes up, he's upside down, looking at an unfamiliar costume in the reflection of a building window. He's initially shocked, but soon decides that he likes the strange sensation of strength that the costume gives him.

I like to think that the building’s night janitor is watching him flex and laughing.
So Spidey swings through the city for a bit, enjoying his new costume before going to the only scientist he knows who isn't slowly decaying at the bottom of the Hudson River next to a rusty fusion reactor, Dr. Connors.

Dr. Connors: "I'm a physicist, not a biologist..."

Which is the only reason he's not currently rampaging around the city as a lizardman.

Dr. Connors: "...but let me look at it in the morning. Run some tests."

The sample makes its way toward Peter, which alarms the good doctor.

Dr. Connors: "It has the characteristics of a symbiote, which needs to bond to a host to survive. And sometimes these things in nature, when they bind... they can be hard to unbind."

Like that parasite that eats a fish's tongue before replacing it! LINK TO WIKIPEDIA

Peter arrives back home, where he hears a crime on the scanner that matches Sandman's MO. He briefly considers wearing the ol' red-and-blues, but ends up taking his new black suit instead. Just in case.

He arrives at the bank just in time to see some sand flow into a drain, so he rips the drain out of the ground... just as Eddie comes along to snap some pictures.

Eddie Brock: "Gimme some of that web action."

"That web action" ends up smashing Eddie's camera into a wall. And so, Spidey jumps down into the sewers while Topher Grace reverts to That 70s Show for a second.

Eddie Brock: "What the hell?"

But Eddie has another camera on him. And a plan....

Down below the streets on New York, Spider-Man spots the Sandman in a train tunnel and confronts him.

Spider-Man: "Remember Ben Parker? The old man you shot down in cold blood?"
Flint Marko: "What does it matter to you, anyway?'
Spider-Man: "Everything!"

And so, the Train Fight Mk II. The two fight between subway trains passing each other in a pretty visually interesting sequence that gives us shots like this.

Okay, that's cool.
This continues until they crash into the water works below. Spidey sees Marko get soggy and lose his hand, giving him the idea to rip open a pipe and flush away the villain forever.

Spider-Man: "Good riddance."

Peter emerges into the street above and changes back into his civilian clothes, deciding to pull his hair over a single eye apropos of basically nothing.

Funnily enough, while researching some old MTV articles, I found a surprising number of people who favorably compared his look to Jared Leto. Which just goes to show that Jared Leto can even ruin superhero movies by proxy.
Coming up in Part 3! At least one of the plot threads ends.

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