Tuesday, June 05, 2007

Spiderman 3 and the Ken Levine watch test

No spoiler alert necessary!

I saw SPIDERMAN 3 recently. Okay, I hated it but that’s not the point of this post. Fifteen drawn out subplots to explore the same well-worn themes. Between Spiderman swooping in to save the day and Aunt May swooping in to give Sunday school lessons (“good is better than bad, Peter”), I was crushingly bored…even during the action sequences. How many times have we now seen superheroes battle it out at night in Times Square? Buses flying, windows shattering, fireballs exploding in the streets… and all the while a crowd of people watching. Aren’t New Yorkers supposed to have street smarts? Don’t you think maybe they’d RUN FOR THEIR FUCKING LIVES?! Mothers with their cute little tykes standing in the middle of harm’s way watching 200 foot monsters throw the ESPN Fun Zone into Central Park. Apparently the citizens of Metropolis and Gotham City are equally stupid.

But I digress.

The way I rate a movie is by what time I first check my watch.

If I can go the whole movie without checking once, that’s a great movie. And if it’s a three-hour movie, then it’s a classic. Then it’s THE GODFATHER.

Let’s say the movie starts at 8:00.

If I can go until 9:00 then I’m reasonably entertained. The second act is starting to drag but that second act is every writer’s boulder up the hill.

But if I’m glancing at my wrist, it’s 9:00, and Drew Barrymore and Adam Sandler have just met then I know I’m in trouble.

If I think it’s 9:00 when I check and it’s only 8:30 then I’m really screwed. My wife has roped me into another Anthony Minghelia movie.

And if I hit that little light button and it’s 8:15, the next time I look at my watch it’ll be at 8:30 at Starbucks.

With PEARL HARBOR I didn’t get through the opening credits.

My SPIDERMAN 3 time checks: 8:30, 9:00, 9:15, 9:35, 10:00, 10:03. 10:04. 10:05. 10:15. 10:15:30, 10:15:45.

Don’t waste your time.


Anonymous said...

For this to work you have to check your watch when the movie starts, as well. We can't go by the listed time since commercials and trailers now last longer than the movies themselves.

Allen said...

i concur...what an awful movie.

Knocked Up on the other hand...

Anonymous said...

Went with no expectations and actually liked it. Saw it in IMAX at the Bridge which I'm sure added to the oooh factor.

Ran into Mike Binder there and told him what huge fan I was. Loved "Mind of The Married Man" and "Upside of Anger."

Anonymous said...

Okay, first of all, I was told by a few people, including my mother, not to see it, but I was coerced by a group, so I went. I was expecting Superman 4 levels of bad, so I was actually relieved. The only thing that stuck in my craw was when Peter's Aunt May stopped over for about 3 minutes to spout something reassuring and then left. Young, energetic people do not just pop in to say three sentences and then leave, much less an elderly woman who probably had to take two buses and a train in from Queens. And he didn't even offer her something to drink. I couldn't get past that. Fuck the Sandman, Spidey is inhospitable.

Anonymous said...

Funny that you do the watch thing. That's one of my quality meters as well. ;-)

Anonymous said...

What about the crying? I like to judge a movie by how many times the superhero cries.

More than zero and the movie stinks -- one exception, if Halle Berry gets kryptonited before I get my fill of spandex. Then I cry.

Spidey cried cause his girl left him, cause his friend died, cause his enemy died, cause his aunt... I don't even know why his aunt kept making him cry. He even cried about an uncle that died like two movies ago.

Anonymous said...

I haven't seen the movie, but I've gotta speak up for New Yorkers for a moment and say we don't really hang out in Times Square all that much. The people you're seeing are probably from Phoenix.

And on their way to The Lion King.

David J. Loehr said...

I also do the watch test. I remember being dragged to see "The English Patient" by an English major friend who'd loved the book. After an hour, I checked my watch to see that only twenty minutes had passed. Two hours later, I checked to see that only about seventy-five minutes had passed. (And they told two friends, and so on, and so on, and so on...)

At least with "Lawrence of Arabia," after all the long shots of sand, you had Peter O'Toole.

Anonymous said...

I came up with the same system for rating lectures, but I had two measurements - first time of checking and frequency of checking after that. It was a remarkably accurate guide to how bad the lecture was.

Anonymous said...

Now imagine Spiderman 3 as directed by Richard Linklater.

Time literally stops in his hands.

Jim Endecott said...

I knew I was in trouble when the scientists blew off the warning light as a bird in the sand pit that would fly away when the experiment started...all down hill from there.

2.5 villains diluted the story way to much.

I think they were prepping for a Broadway production with the all the musical numbers.

Kevin Wolf said...

Glad I'm not the only one who thinks The English Patient sucks the space time continuum into an endless loop.

Richard Cooper said...

I am proud to say I've never seen The English Patient, and calmly changed the cable channel when it was coming on the other night. I rock.

The key to Spiderman is to imagine you're only six years old while watching it, and to actually wear the spidey mask and tights to the movies. It is rather a challenge to eat buttery popcorn with the mask over one's face, so be warned.

Anonymous said...

I am always amazed at how many overpriced "development" execs it takes to say "Great idea, let's make 'Knocked Up 7'!

TJ said...

Spidey 3 was the first movie I ever walked out of. I'll catch the end on HBO, when I don't have some yutz talking to the screen sitting directly behind me.

The only worthwhile thing about that movie (or at least what I saw) was Bruce Campbell.

Anonymous said...

It was terrible.

Apart from the quality per se, the biggest problem is that Arad et al have undermined Spider-Man's entire reason to exist. SM became a hero because the crook he refused to stop went on to murder his Uncle Ben. Now, his refusal to help didn't produce any consequences.

And what's with letting Sandman, who's now attacked or killed numerous people, just go off because SM felt sorry for him?

gaylep said...

Re: Superman: You've convinced me to dodge that bullet--thanks!

Unknown said...

Do you ever check your watch in hopes that you have PLENTY of time left to savor the masterpiece, happy to find out only 15 minutes have elapsed?

Todd Mueller said...

Spiderman 3. Bad, bad action flick; funny, funny film. I laughed out loud when I saw that Venom and Sandman were kind enough to write a challenge to Spiderman using Venom's web.

SANDMAN: You're making the woids too big. They'll never fit between those buildings.

VENOM: Oh, I see. Now you're a webbing expert?

SANDMAN: I'm just saying. There won't be enough room for the explanation point.

VENOM: Exclamation! The word is EXCLAMATION!

dotter said...

I didn't think SM3 was that bad. It had the same problem POTC3 has: trying to cram too much story into one movie.

But as someone else said, "Knocked Up" is hilarious. I'm still laughing at lines, 4 days later.

Anonymous said...

I've thrown in the towel on this whole goin' to the theater business. With idiots yapping on phones, LED screens flicking left and right as the OCD types check email…'oye. Then throw in the commercials for the captive audience…is it me or has our theater society lost all manner of well, manners?

On the upside it's wonderful to watch Babel in HD on the Plasma.

Bill Nesbitt

Anonymous said...

"Spiderman 3" looks so bad to me that I was checking my watch during Richard Roeper's review.

What never ceases to amaze me is the mentality that if the first movie was a success then sequel should be the exact same plot devices, set pieces and gags, but with more explosions and destruction.

It would be like the Beatles recording Sgt. Peppers and then following it up by recording the same songs again, only louder.

About the only really good sequel I can think of in the past few years was "Bourne Supremacy".

maven said...

Bill Nesbitt said: I've thrown in the towel on this whole goin' to the theater business.
I'm 100% with you on this one. My husband and I have stopped going to the movies. They come to us via Netflix! We got a pretty large DLP TV, and it's like being in a theater without all the crap going on around you. If your phone rings or you have to pee, you can put the movie on pause! And if you check your watch, just stop watching and wait for the next Netflix!

Dwacon said...

I enjoyed the woman behind me who muttered "SLUT!" when MJ kissed Harry. But you will be WIDE AWAKE when my film hits the screen.

Febrifuge said...

Go see a little movie called "Once." It's the exact polar opposite of SM3. Nothing blows up; nobody cries; it's un-polished, and pleasantly talky (it's Irish, or is that redundant?). None of the images are computer-generated, and instead there are human-generated emotions. It's full of singing, and while not much happens, it does so beautifully.

This is one I'm glad I saw in a theater, because it'll be forever before the DVD and my speakers suck. It also washed away the lingering cinema-hate I had going because SM3 was the LAST thing I saw in the theater.

Dave said...

The movie came to a dead stop for me when MJ started to sing. Not that she couldn't (which is, of course, true), but I couldn't bend my mind around the ideas that a) anyone would name a show "Manhattan Memories;" b) anyone would start a show with that song in that staging in any non-ironic context; c) the show opened cold, with no prevews, and d) no one on the creative staff noticed until the reviews came out that MJ had no talent, and then fired her with no notice.

Other than that, Mrs. Lincoln . . .

Kerri said...

Add me to The English Patient group. It took 20 minutes before I was pacing the floor begging my friend to leave with me. She didn't, I paced. Absolutely unbearable movie.

Dante Kleinberg said...

I don't think it was terrible, but I don't think it was good either. Probably around a B-.

I did a whole analysis on my own blog and came to the conclusion that it was carelessness that killed the movie. Lazy writing filled with amnesia and butlers and "Find religion" and "It's probably a bird" and coincidence upon coincidence... A few more drafts and a little TLC and maybe we would've had a better movie. It didn't HAVE to be this way.

Anonymous said...

Hey, this could be a whole other thread - bad movies! It's been twenty years, but my friend still brings up "Picnic at Hanging Rock"
as the longest two hours of his life.

Dave said...

Bad movies?

I'd give a year's pay to have the two hours I lost watching "Being John Malkovich."

I hear they use it at Gitmo.

SJ said...

Why do people expect much from the Spiderman movies? The only reason I watch them is because of the action scenes, and I enjoyed the action scenes (especially the Spidey/Sandman fights).

But everything else was utter crap...ruining Venom (who is supposed to be the ultimate bad guy) and Sandman (he's an actual big-time thief...pure evil sort of thing, not some guy who accidentally committed a crime). F you Raimi brothers.

Anonymous said...

That watch test is great. The only good thing I can say about S3 is I didn't have to pay for and there were unlimited free concessions (junket screening).

Anonymous said...

"Aren’t New Yorkers supposed to have street smarts? Don’t you think maybe they’d RUN FOR THEIR FUCKING LIVES?! Mothers with their cute little tykes standing in the middle of harm’s way watching 200 foot monsters throw the ESPN Fun Zone into Central Park."

Yes, this blows, but the other thing that drives me batshit is that while they're watching whatever it is coming toward them (fire, flood, monster), it gets up to about 2 feet from them and then they start running, or driving, or diving into sewer grates, calling their dog (Independence Day, for God's sake) and they STILL get away. (Well, they're being paid a lot of money, so it makes sense to let them live.) If the shit ever hits the fan where I live, I want it to move as slowly as bad things do in movies.

Love your blog. After a bad day, I know I can always find some humor on your site.

To back up a bit, not suggesting that one should not save one's animals, by the way, only that it's done so stupidly. I remember watching the endless coverage of the tsunami and realizing that this wasn't a movie, and that these people were doing the right thing, running.

Anonymous said...

You can put frosting on a cowpie
but that doesn't make it cake.

How about that scene where the iron girder sweeps through the office tower? Gwen Stacey grabs hold of the beam to avoid plummetting to her death.
Cut to Gwen Stacey's father -the
police chief- observing his daughter's plight from the street
below.Is he panicking? Is he
frantically mobilizing the people in his command in a desperate bid to rescue his daughter from certain doom? No. He just stands there staring upwards with the pinched expression of a parent
who's just noticed that his kid isn't wearing any underwear.As if that weren't bad enough, he takes a
moment out to get aquainted with
his daughter's self-described new
boyfriend.The alleged boyfriend
introduces himself in a calm cordial manner, seemingly unmoved by his alleged girlfriend's plight.
That's cold even for a New Yorker.
Too cold to be believable.