Property review: Spider-Man 3

Photo courtesy of IMDB.com
Photo courtesy of IMDB.com

Spider-Man 3

Columbia Pictures, 2007

Webcrawler stumbles a third time

Let’s get something straight from the beginning: Tobey Maguire, in no way, failed the Spider-Man franchise. There’s plenty of blame to go around outside of the cast of the once-juggernaut film property featuring everyone’s friendly neighborhood wall-crawler, but none of it needs to ensnare Maguire in its web. No, the blame game needs to be played like a who’s who gathering of spin the terrible film bottle with Sam Raimi and whoever was his casting director.

Spider-Man and Spider-Man 2 had quite a bit going for each film, especially the first film. But by the time the third film rolls around, there isn’t much here to be seen that hasn’t been done before. That is the unfortunate nature of a trilogy.

There’s Peter Parker, Maguire’s lovable underdog that has as much rooting power and likability to carry a film from start to finish. Then there’s Mary Jane Watson, the heroine. While Kirsten Dunst does an admirable job of being the redheaded damsel in distress that is early Watson, she was kind of playing it by the numbers by the time the final piece of the puzzle was in place. For some reason, Bryce Dallas Howard is thrown in as longtime Spider-Man girlfriend Gwen Stacy. Thomas Haden Church, Topher Grace and James Franco round out the villainy, which is a rather numerous rogue gallery.

The fact that we’ve just typed three names in one sentence to describe the lineup of villains is a major problem and, quite frankly, the worst issue with the film. The story is fine and we like the origin story told here for Venom. The problem is there isn’t enough time to showcase Venom’s story properly. The reason? Too many villains. We’ve said it time and again: Too many foes for the protagonist can and will ruin a film. Spider-Man 3 is easily the worst offender of this practice.

The film feels overly long and bloated to start with, but when Sandman turns into New Goblin who turns into Venom, it’s just too much to deal with. The pacing suffers immediately after New Goblin makes his first appearance, and once Eddie Brock takes on the symbiote/“black suit,” the film swiftly devolves into unmitigated chaos.

Another problem was the terrible effect of dragging in villains for the sake of having a villain. Venom immediately suffers the brunt of the pain here and it’s appalling what’s done to the character. First of all, in the comics, a pumpkin bomb from the New Goblin does not kill Venom; cancer eventually does the job. Second of all, if you’re going to bother doing Venom at all, do him justice and get it right. Venom is arguably Spider-Man’s most lethal and engaging foe, a lot like the Joker is to Batman or Lex Luthor is to Superman. Venom deserved his own film, and pairing him up to fight the wall-crawler is an immediate injustice to the character’s history. Venom doesn’t need anyone else to carry his movie if done right. Finally, Venom looked terrible. The character CGI was awful and looked cheap. If this is the reason why it took so long to get Venom in a film against Spidey, they could have kept him and saved him for the eventual reboot we all knew was coming.

And that reboot? It was apparent with the rote aura surrounding the film long before its release. What is especially angering is the dumbed-down approach to the film itself. In the months leading up to the film, the mainstream appeal to the basic filmgoer was pandering at best, highly insulting at worst. Seriously? The advertising and trailer appeal of a “black suit” that makes Peter Parker flip out was terrible. Trust us when we say the average movie viewer had no idea what the alien symbiote was about let alone cared. So when the comic knowledgeable saw that, it caused a chuckle for what it was worth. Spider-Man had become a “movie event of the year” type of thing, and indeed, his cash sense was probably tingling. Too bad he had to sacrifice quality to do it.

Terrible pacing, too many villains, a tired subplot and an overall lackadaisical feel? Thanks but no thanks. The spider had done all that a spider can and it was well past time for him to move on.

Like the comics?: 7

Casting: 7

Plot: 5

Overall score: 19 out of 30 or 6

How we grade

We score the prop­er­ties in three cat­e­gories: Cast­ing (or voice act­ing in the case of ani­mated), plot and sim­i­lar­i­ties to its source mate­r­ial. Each cat­e­gory receives points out of max­i­mum of 10 per cat­e­gory, and 30 over­all. The per­cent­age is the final score.

Marvel character highlight #16: War Machine

Name: James Rupert “Rhodey” RhodesWar Machine

Affiliation: United States Marine Corps, Stark Enterprises, Avengers, West Coast Avengers, Iron Legion, Secret Defenders, Sentinel Squad O*N*E, The Initiative, Team War Machine, Secret Avengers, United States Department of Defense

Special abilities: Rhodes wears an advanced suit capable of becoming the ultimate weapon. Much like Tony Stark’s Iron Man armor, Rhodes’ suit grants flight, advanced warfare weaponry and protection against varying levels of attack. Rhodes is a capable and skilled Marine and aircraft pilot.

Background: James Rhodes was a lieutenant in the U.S. Marine Corps, participating in battles in Southeast Asia. His plane was shot down over a jungle by the Viet Cong, and he meets Tony Stark for the first time.The duo escapes after making it back to an American installation. Stark offers Rhodes a job as his personal pilot, something that Rhodes accepts after the Vietnam War. Rhodes dons the alternate suit of War Machine for the first time to defeat the villain known as Magma as a way to save Stark, who was defeated during his relapse into alcoholism. Rhodes has since used the War Machine armor and battled under the Iron Man banner in various capacities since, despite retiring several times.

Relationships: Tony Stark (Iron Man), best friend and employer; Roberta Rhodes, mother; Joshua Rhodes, uncle; Jeanette Rhodes, sister (deceased)

First Versus game appearance: Marvel vs. Capcom

Appearances in other media: Iron Man (animated TV show), X-Men the Animated Series (animated), Spider-Man (animated TV show, 1994), The Incredible Hulk (animated TV show), Iron Man: Animated Adventures, The Super Hero Squad Show, The Avengers: Earth’s Mightiest Heroes, Avengers Assemble, Ultimate Avengers 2, The Invincible Iron Man, Iron Man: Rise of the Technovore, Iron Man (2008 film), Iron Man 2 (2010 film), Iron Man 3 (2013 film), Marvel vs. Capcom, Marvel vs. Capcom 2, X-Men Legends II: Rise of Apocalypse, Marvel Ultimate Alliance, Iron Man (2008 video game), Marvel Ultimate Alliance 2, Marvel Super Hero Squad, Iron Man 2 (2010 video game), LEGO Marvel Super Heroes

Anime Lounge #07: Myself; Yourself

Myself;Yourself art

Series: Myself; Yourself

Episodes: 1 to 13

Anime-LoungePremise: Hold on to your hat, folks, this one gets really dark, really fast. A young boy, Hidaka Sana, is surrounded by four childhood friends — Yatsushiro Nanaka, Oribe Aoi and brother/sister pair Wakatsuki Shuusuke and Wakatsuki Shuri — in the comfortable town of Sakuranomori. The group spends a lot of time together so when Sana moves to Tokyo, the group splinters. When Sana returns, he rejoins three of the four — Aoi, Shuusuke and Shuri — but doesn’t recognize Nanaka. After their first encounter again after years apart, Sana has to work to regain a friendship with Nanaka or turn it into something else. The problem is there are dark secrets within the group that get in the way.

Is it worth watching?: Yes, if you like dark secrets among a group of people who’ve known each other their entire lives. I can’t give away what the secrets are, but suffice to say it’s hard hitting for a group of teenagers. Most adults don’t deal with the majority of the problems these kids have. And just when you think it couldn’t get any more depressing than it already is, things brighten considerably. It’s good drama, and the character development is good.

Breakout character: Shuri. It’s true that she’s part of a duo storyline here, but she makes the most impact. She starts out a little immature, but by the end, she’s the one making adult decisions that affect her and Shuusuke for the rest of their lives. Besides Shuusuke, she’s probably the most mature of the group by the end, and that’s saying a lot when considering the other story resolutions.

Funniest episode: Humor goes a long way in this series, and it’s hard to come by. So, instead of funniest episode, let’s just say the happiest episode is the final episode, “Bonds.” For the sake of lifting the depressing veil off events, the entire group reunites and all is well.

Where is it going: The entire series is 13 episodes, so if you can hang on and get through the sad parts (like the entire series except for the final 10 minutes), you can see for yourself how well things end for the five friends.

*Special note: The opening wasn’t really anything special, but the ending song “Kimi to Yozora to Sakamichi to” is excellent. It’s definitely worth listening to on repeat a few dozen times.

Top 5 on The Strip: Marvel supers edition

Cable-Time Flip

Cable, “Time Flip”

Cable is game-breaking. Cable is top tier. Cable is one of the few characters that can counteract himself in the game’s tier rankings. So, when his least usable super is shouted, you’re probably going to be shocked enough to get hit by it. Time Flip is useless, but it looks cool. Also, it’s taken 13 years to figure out if he’s saying time slip or time flip. We’ve settled mostly on flip. And nothing is more cool than watching Cable shake his fist angrily when he misses with the move and wastes super meter. We hate Cable.

 Spiral-Hyper Metamorphose

Spiral, “Metamorphose”

Amazingly, this super isn’t used that much if you’re fighting a lot of Spiral players. And you will, because she’s a popular girl. And by popular, we mean just about anyone who has any knowledge about tiers in MvC2 will know that she’s worth using. The Dance isn’t used that widely because why use it when you can throw a wall of Dancing Swords? But we digress. The move still looks cool as hell as she morphs into all of the Marvel roster. Protip: The move always ends with her kicking you in the face as Cyclops.

 Blackheart-Heart of Darkness

Blackheart, “Heart of Darkness”

Once upon a time, there was a team nicknamed Team Giggles. The trio was composed of Blackheart, M. Bison and Dr. Doom. Blackheart, of the demented group, seems to do the most giggling and it’s mostly because of this super. For a dude who’s the spawn of the lead demon in Marvel’s Hell, he sure seems to have a lot to laugh about. And, no doubt, if you’re able to connect this after trapping someone with a previous Inferno and watching your little demon friends come out do massive damage, you’re probably going to giggle a bit, too.

 Iron Man-Proton Cannon

Iron Man, “Proton Cannon”

It was hard to choose between Iron Man’s version or War Machine’s version of the big beam super. We love the simplicity with Iron Man’s move, but we also love War Machine throwing out that random “It’s my Sunday best!” in Marvel vs. Capcom, too. It was too cool to attempt to figure out what War Machine was getting at the first time around. And that giant super beam of doom? Good luck blocking that thing if Iron Man decides to use it. At least he isn’t using the Iron Man infinite.

 Rogue-Goodnight Sugah

Rogue, “Good Night Sugah”

Rogue doesn’t have much to go on here, but the one super she has is cute. Sure, it’s pretty obvious that she’s going to do it. And you’re going to have try to get around the crazy concept of blocking that your opponent has. But, hey, once you launch that rush and you connect with your kiss of attribute thievery, you’re well on your way. And the fact that the theft of an attribute happens is pretty amazing. You have to love this particular brand of Southern charm.

Otaku Corner: Onimusha: Night of Genesis

Capcom manga continues Onimusha saga

Brandon-2012-cutoutWelcome back to Otaku Corner, where we bring you the finest anime and manga this side of the Northern Hemisphere. Previously, I reviewed the first installment of Capcom’s samurai adventure series Onimusha. It did not take long for a manga adaptation to not only tie-in the series, but also to present new characters in the recent Onimusha game, Dawn of Dreams. This adaptation is “Onimusha: Night of Genesis.”

Written and drawn by Mitsuru Ohsaki and published by Udon Comics, “Night of Genesis” follows two new Onimusha warriors who are destined to face the notorious genma forces, but for different reasons. At the beginning of the first chapter, Hideyasu Yuki and Jubei-Akane Yagyu face off with each other. As the manga goes on, these warriors discover that while they have different adversaries to battle, they awaken the awesome power inside them that would not only destroy their respective foes, but also would remove the even greater threat of the genma destroying Japan and the world.

Night of Genesis” is a radical take on the Onimusha series that remains loyal to the games’ storyline. While reading, I

Photo courtesy of Amazon.com
Photo courtesy of Amazon.com

found that although the character’s back stories and relevant elements of Japanese history are entwined, Oshaki-san took great care to keep these elements from overlapping. This is important since fans of certain games discover that when their favorite title and characters appear in graphic novels, very little or none of the game’s story remains as the main story. I also give credit to Udon Comics’ team of Gala Ferrire and Jim Zubkavich, whose English adaptation maintained understanding of the manga’s plot; and Mike Youngberg, whose translations were helpful, especially when sword-fighting techniques needed explanation. Overall, Onimusha fans and otaku looking for a good samurai manga won’t be disappointed.

Onimusha: Night of Genesis is the first official tie-in to a gaming series that really does not disappoint its fans. This goes to show that with great stories and comic art, transitions of video games to comic format can be a successful formula if all involved parties focus on quality not quantity. Udon did it, and you can, too, Capcom. I’m looking at you, Kenzo Tsujimoto.

Brandon Beatty is editor at large of Gaming Insurrection. He can be reached by email at gicomics@gaminginsurrection.com

Strip Talk #17: When the X-Men ruled the weekend

Lyndsey-2013-cutout-onlineI grew up in a household where Saturdays were prized affairs of laziness and doing absolutely as little as possible. Mostly, we sat around reading romance novels (my mom), playing cards or board games or doing a little housework well before noon so that the rest of the day was free to be leisurely. As a child with a little disposable income in the form of an allowance, I indulged in simple pleasures such as comic books, visits to Red Wing Rollerway (RIP), and movie and arcade trips. These were all to be done on my days off from school. They stayed my trivial pursuits throughout my teenage years, but a new rule was put into place in 1992, the year I entered sixth grade: Under absolutely no circumstances could I be out of the house between the hours of 11 a.m. and noon. X-Men the Animated Series was on.

I created that rule after the first time that I watched an episode in that first season. I was prone to sleeping late to start with, but I woke up one Saturday morning to realize that there were X-Men on TV. I’m not even sure how I stumbled across it other than there was a small child in our household who also loved Saturday morning cartoons. The problem was that she didn’t consistently watch the same things every week, so I was at the mercy of a toddler who didn’t know Cyclops from Havok. I quickly explained the situation to mama, who understood the importance of my comic book love — she, once upon a time, was a devoted reader of Spider-Man. That weekend, I formulated a plan to watch the show from her bedroom — where I spent most of my time playing video games anyway — and made sure she knew what time and channel to turn to once I was up for the morning. I still, however, had to get her to warm up to not scheduling events and trips out too early before the show. I wanted to immerse myself in the world of the X-Men, not be out of the house tooling around JC Penney for a shirt that I would probably never wear.

The show was mesmerizing and drew me in to follow the greatest group of superheroes to have ever been created. The storylines were mature, and with great voice acting, I came to immensely enjoy the exploits of Marvel’s merry band of mutants. After two seasons, we moved into an apartment of our own and I was free to watch the show in the privacy of my own bedroom. Sadly, it wasn’t the same, though I still enjoyed the show.

In the days before DVR and Internet, there was no way to catch up on a broadcast if I missed it and no one recorded it on VHS. Slowly but surely, I fell out of getting up to watch the show. But that year of waking for X-Men has stuck around with me. Those were the days of mutant magnificence in animated form.

Lyndsey Hicks is editor-in-chief of Gaming Insurrection. She can be reached by email at lyndseym@gaminginsurrection.com