Spider-Man 3 may have more to deliver than the usual fan-wanking, simple-dick plotting and intravenous CG opium, to judge by this rave Michael Rechtshaffen review in the Hollywood Reporter. But I’ve had issues with Rechtstaffen before and I really don’t trust him much. Nobody should. He’s a “trade reviewer” who accepts the notion that he’s supposed to keep things fair and polite and balanced, which means that a lot of his reactions, in my view, tend to be a little too gracious.
Keep in mind that Rechtshaffen gave a friendly pass to The Last Mimzy — that should tell you a lot.
Besides, it you carefully examine Rechtshaffen’s prose, you’ll see that he’s not exactly trumpeting Spider-Man 3 as anything too wondrous.
He calls it “dazzling” — a rote adjective that’s syonymous with “eye-filling,” which is hardly a stunning achievement for a film of this sort. He says that “arachnophiles everywhere” — i.e., fans of the previous two Spider-Man films — “finally have cause to celebrate” after an absence of three years. What else are fans of a big franchise supposed to do when part 3 finally rolls out — vomit on the sidewalk?
Rechtstaffen’s most troublesome proclamation is that Spider-Man 3 “has done it again,” which is far from comforting news to this columnist.
Noting that the film is “certain to please the geek squad by remaining ever true to its comic book roots while retaining that satisfying emotional core that has registered with equal numbers of female fans,” Rechtstaffen declares that Spider-Man 3 “has all its demographic bases covered.” This is a trade review, all right — a few upbeat pat-on-the-back sentiments aimed at Columbia advertisers, confident clucking about how satisfied the fans will be (and how much money will be made), an attaboy marketing analysis.
Surprising as this may sound, Rechtstaffen allows a note of negativity to slip into paragraph #4. “While the picture as a contained whole might fall an itsy-bitsy short of the personal best set by Sam Raimi’s 2004 edition, the wow factor works overtime with state-of-the-art effects sequences that often are as beautiful as they are astonishing.”
Did everybody read that? A politically-minded Hollywood Reporter critic says Spider-Man 3 is not as good as the last one (i.e., the “Doc Ock” version with fat Alfred Molina) , which I thought was just okay and which I’ve never wanted to see a second time. I take it back — Rechtstaffen hasn’t written a rave. It just seems like one from the headline and the gushy first three graphs.