Devin says: If you head to NBC.com right now you can watch seven plus minutes of footage from Spider-Man 3, a little film for which Sony is hoping to drum up some interest. To that end they held a screening of the footage on the Sony lot this past weekend, with an introduction by Sam Raimi and a Q&A with Avi Arad. I couldn’t make it to the event, living in New York, but I sent my closest genetic match, my brother Derek. Here’s his report, and the Q&A with Arad:
On Saturday I had the opportunity to see seven minutes of Spider-Man 3 a full seventy-two hours before all you sucka MCs. What we saw was, to put it mildly, pretty damn cool. Besides quick shots of a giant Sandman, Peter in the black suit and that pesky Venom, Sam Raimi showed what he called “scene-its” or a few minutes from three scenes.
Obviously, Sam and his team know what they are doing, we’ve seen that with the first two films, but just to shove their knowledge in your face, what they are showing is a slick bit of greatness. A little bit of Mary Jane and Peter discussing the future, a scene that made me care more about Aunt May then the past fifteen years of reading hundreds of Spider-Man comics ever did and an amazing fight between Peter and Harry Osborne.
To me, the most amazing thing about the fight is how steady it is filmed. In a time where action scenes are always quick cuts and shaky close ups of what could be an elbow or maybe an ass cheek (see the fights in Batman Begins for an example of confusion), Raimi keeps the camera back and trusts that the punches will have the needed impact. What we saw of this fight covers every aspect of Spider-Man. He is fighting someone close to him, someone who he shares an emotional connection with. More so, Harry doesn’t see himself as a villain, he sees himself as the hero of the fight; after all, he is trying to avenge his father. There’s also the old school “Peter just wants to go home” aspect. Pete’s on his scooter when Harry attacks, and more so it looks like Pete was on his way to propose to Mary Jane. We also get to see something that Avi Arad says is the theme of the movie; how Peter deals with his issues. If this fight is any indication, Peter deals with them by getting really angry and going for blood.
I’m not going to do the whole minute by minute breakdown of what happens because, well, I hate those. I mean, if a picture is worth a thousand words, and a movie is twenty four frames per second, it would take me roughly eleven million words to do what I saw (and what you can see right after Heroes) any justice. Instead, why not just read the little Q&A we had with Avi Arad….
Q: What are the pitfalls in making the third film?
AVI ARAD: You’re saying what are the opportunities (laugh). Well, I think when you have the same team, the same cast, same director, same producers and the same writer it gives you an opportunity to dig deeper. Everybody can dig deeper. From the story to the content to the CGI. We have a meeting after every movie because we know they will be successful; we sit and we think ‘what can we do better’. As you can see, we’re getting that. The opportunities are getting to be more complex. Beating up Peter Parker harder and seeing if he can take it; is he still a hero? This movie is really testing every bond, every emotion, every intellectual thing in his head. I think we really have something that surpassed one and two. Some of us feel that this is the biggest of them all.
Q: The trailer revealed that Sandman is supposed to be the real killer of Uncle Ben. How does that change or alter Peter’s motivation for doing what he’s doing. If Peter didn’t play an exact role in the death of his uncle, does that purge his need to be Spider-Man?
AVI ARAD: Well I think that, if you look at the first two movies, the scene that defines Peter’s life is the death of Uncle Ben and his own reactions to his powers as a kid. He didn’t stop the robbery, he was thinking about making some dough so he could get a car and date Mary Jane; which is normal for a kid. That’s what makes Peter so accessible and so lovable forever. Stan (Lee) wrote a kid who is like all kids. So his life is made from a mistake he made; it affects the rest of his life. If you remember in the first movie, he tried to stop the man, but the man fell to his death, which is another tough moment in Peter’s life; realizing that once you take the law into your own hands there are consequences.
Sandman is a fascinating villain for us and Sam made him far more fascinating. In the books the character is pretty limited. He’s an interesting effect, but he’s a goon. We pride ourselves in connecting or villains to our hero. With this story, without going to far into it, we gave Sandman a real good story. We made him an interesting villain. Like all our villains he is a victim of circumstance. This movie has a theme, its about Peter dealing with his dark side that comes out of his personal issues and Sandman is one of the issues. Peter thinks ‘if he’s the guy who really did it and the other guy was an accomplice, if I didn’t chase him maybe things would have been different’. Its a tough guilt trip and Peter examines his life to a great extent.
On the other hand, when you look at something like Sandman, you think what a great opportunity for the effects guys to create a whole new algorithm. Its like the first time you saw a big wave in a movie. It took a lot of time for guys to create that wave or that fire; sand is a new effect that SPI created. We’re very fortunate because SONY and SPI is one company and we can ask them to got he extra distance. And designing Sandman is very complicated. They literally created an algorithm of a grain of sand and then learn how to manipulate it. We knew we had something the world had never seen before and if you add the great story into it then its a win/win situation.
Q: Do you see this as a fitting conclusion to the franchise or do you want to see it continue?
AVI ARAD: There are never conclusions. This story, Peter’s story has been going on a long time and it will continue going. There are some issues that will come, not to an end, but to a conclusion, but Peter Parker’s story will continue forever. The love story will always be the ruling thing in his life; its always about the girl. So, no, it’s just number three.
Q: Is there anything in the movie that you’ve seen that surprised you?
AVI ARAD: No because we are here all the time.
Q: What we just saw (and what you can see here) – Can you tell us where in the context of the movie it is? Is that the first act?
AVI ARAD: I’d rather not get into that because then people will try and construct the story before seeing it. I think this movie is the most complex and amazing story yet. Both adversaries have agendas that connect to Peter in a big way, and Mary Jane too. So what you see gives you the issues in the movie about where the characters are.
Q: How long do you anticipate the movie being?
AVI ARAD: Over two hours.
Q: Are you astonished at how far the effects have come since the first movie?
AVI ARAD: I think its more then just technology. I think we have a great team and Sam is drawn to the world of technology. But this movie unlike movies that are CGI driven, has more then just physical effects, special effects and CGI. Everyone here is pushing themselves. There’s no effects artist that doesn’t want to do this movie. These people pride themselves on pushing the envelope and making it better then they did before, or new people come on and want to prove themselves and we’re the beneficiaries.
Q: Variety reported a few weeks ago that David Koepp was in talks to write Spidey four. Can you say how far along those talks are? Will he definitely be writing it?
AVI ARAD: I think it will be great if he does, but its far too early to speak about it.
Q: Spider-Man from the comics is a bit of a jokester. Will be seeing that side of him in the movie?
AVI ARAD: I thought it was a funny line, “I hate these things” [Peter says this about one of Harry’s new and improved pumpkin bombs]. One of the things that blew me away is how funny Tobey can be. This movie, unlike the others except for one scene, has physical comedy. I think Tobey was ready for the improv. He’s a funny guy. The humor has to come out of an emotional situation, out of being cornered into a place. It’s easy to do quips in comics, in 2-D, but when you have a whole scene, a complex scene, a line like that is a lot. You’ll see other scenes, I can’t give them away, but you know Sam’s a funny guy, he doesn’t look it but he is a funny guy. You’ll see scenes where, because its such high drama and a great love story, you need to just breathe deep and you’ll see from the start of the movie that the humor is sophisticated. Only someone like Peter Parker, only an uber-geek like him could say certain things and you’ll see how people around him just shake their heads.
Q: We saw Peter fighting Harry, but to describe it, should we call him Green Goblin, Hobgoblin or what exactly was Peter fighting there?
AVI ARAD: Call him Harry.
Q: So you just call him Harry? He doesn’t take on a name?
AVI ARAD: Just call him Harry. He will be named later, but not now.
Q: What was the decision to change the black suit for Spider-Man 3 from how it looks in the comics?
AVI ARAD: We try really hard to elevate the story and elevate the costumes. We did things that are different then the books before. I remember everyone was up in arms over the organic webs but can you imagine in a battle Peter stopping to say “Hold on I have to change my thing”? The idea is to take our characters and do things to them. If the red suit becomes a black suit, people still want to see the spider. Its like with ‘Spidey No More’, you can’t wait till he dons the suit again. So when we go into this metaphor, the whole idea is to know that Peter is still inside. There are parts of Peter that are troubled but… its all about metaphors, all these kinds of changes, but you want to make the connection; you want to make sure its clear that ‘yeah its the same guy but he’s going through something and he will come back as the saga continues’.