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Face-Off: Spider-Man 3 vs. X-Men 3

In last weeks Face Off, X-Men 2 scored a sweeping victory over Spider-Man 2. People love their Wolverine, lets see how this weeks match up pans out.

When you clicked on the link to this Face-Off you were probably thinking to yourself, what the hell is Huffman thinking? And I answer, this week in a last move to take advantage of Spidey week I've chosen an approach to the Face-Off column never before attempted...taking two films that were pretty much universally panned and letting you the readers decide which film is the bigger heap of shit. I'm sure there are redeeming qualities about both these movies, but tonight we don't care about that. Let's get cracking.
WTF #1
The main complaint against Spider-Man 3 first and foremost is its overkill in the villain department, and the butchering of their stories as a result. We all know how too many interweaving storylines can make a film muddled and the proper development for all the characters you're trying to juggle leaves a lot to be desired. The third installment of Pirates of the Caribbean 3 comes to mind. Leaving a certain character that director Sam Raimi didn't want to have anything to do with to begin with out of the fold would have given more screen time to a more intriguing villain and that of the one they had been developing for two movies. Although, something in the writing fucked up Harry Osbourne this time around anyway.
X-Men 3 I think suffered the same problem as far as character development but part of that situation was a bit more complicated. Two key characters were killed off in this film, one was due to the actors availability and one...well I don't know to this day how the f*ck they justify that decision, but the inclusion of both of them would have added so much more emotional weight to the story which is exactly what this film needed. Even with those said characters gone there was so much talent wasted due to the enormous cast. Alan Cumming didn't return as Nightcrawler for this very reason.
WTF #2
Let's speak on Venom for a minute, the black sheep of the film. It's a well known fact Raimi didn't wish to include the character at all in the film and the casting of the character and the writing of the character seemed like Sam's fuck you to the studio. I've seen some people these days commending Topher Grace for doing what he could with what he was given, and while I can agree with that...it doesn't change the fact that the character didn't belong in the first place. Fangs? Really? The symbiote just magically finds it's way right into Peter Parker's path? Really?
The second films climax teased us quite brilliantly with the Dark Phoenix story. Did it deliver? I can't speak for the rest of you, but in my opinion not quite. It seems for the most part that this particular story focused more on the physical prowess of the character rather than the emotional potential the story could provide. Again, outside influence affected this but because of that the story suffered. To be fair on this end, Famke Janssen did bring her A game in terms of her performance and in the third act there were some touching moments between her and Wolverine.
WTF #3
Peter Parker you emo, hair partin', John Travolta channeling son of a bitch you. If you wanted to get all depressed it would have been way more compelling to watch you go on a drug binge believe you me. We got a 'Raindrops Keep Falling on my Head' sequence in the 2nd film to foreshadow what we would be forced to deal with as Parker dealt with his inner turmoil in this film. It started off well enough I guess with the cliche one tear scene, but we all know what happened after that. I shudder at the memory.
I couldn't find any other WTF moments that would match to the emo Parker I just discussed so for this section I'll talk about what could have been with this third installment. Bryan Singer ditched this project in favor of Superman Returns (aka the boring POS) but worked on a treatment for a third film that relied of course heavily on the Dark Phoenix story with the inclusion of Gambit (reportedly casting Keanu Reeves) and the Hellfire Club. Bottom line, among film lovers Brett Ratner isn't exactly known for quality and I believe the quality of the film would have had some hope if Singer would have finished what he started. NOTE; Matthew Vaughn also believes he could have done an infinitely better job. I tend to agree.
Critical Response
Spider-Man 3 has a total rate of 63% with the majority of its negative attention being focused on the muddled story and the lack of balance that ensued. Fair argument, way too much was going on to make a balanced story and the script was too much of a piece of shit to be anywhere near a saving grace. You can have a packed cast and make your story work, X2 proved that. I think Sam Raimi was backed into a corner by the studio with this film and unconsciously the film suffered as a result. Which is a shame.
X-Men 3 garnered an overall approval rating of 57%. What is fascinating is the 'two thumbs up' rating from Ebert & Roeper praising its high abundance of action and excitement to make up for its lack of emotional investment. To me, this was the final installments weak point. Where X2 lacked in action, it made up for in character development and exploration of its deeper themes which is what I think could have saved this film from its negative backlash from fans.
Spider-Man 3
So there you have it, Spider-Man 3 was a nail in the coffin that came out of nowhere in Sam Raimi's Spidey universe. I had hopes that the fourth film that was being developed could have been a redemption of sorts but alas it wasn't meant to be. But as this Face Off states there was a whole lot of redemption to be had. Do you disagree? In your eyes was X-Men: Last Stand the bigger abomination? Let us know.

If you have an idea that you'd like to see in a future FACE OFF column, feel free to shoot an email to me at [email protected] with your ideas and some ideas for the critique to base your ideas off. Thank you and in the meantime...

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