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Monday, January 28, 2008


Waiting for the DVD Reviews

In case you missed it, it's the cold and flu season.

I don't know about you, but if I tried to see all of the new movies when they hit the theaters, I'd quickly go broke. So I wait for it to come out on DVD and borrow it from my local library. So, without further ado, the first of my Waiting for the DVD Reviews: Spiderman 3 and The Santa Clause 3.

What do Spiderman 3 and The Santa Clause 3 have in common (besides main characters with a fondness for the color red)? Interestingly enough, both films have a character called Sandman. In Spiderman, he's a villain played by Thomas Hayden Church who is actually a living pile of sand. In the Santa Clause, he's the fellow who puts people to sleep and is portrayed by Michael Dorn (Star Trek's Mr. Worf).

You can say a lot of things about the direction of Spiderman 3, but one thing you can't call it is tight. The movie lurches along like a student driver who is still trying to figure out the clutch. It lurches, it stalls, gets moving for a bit, then stalls again. Over and over. For a movie about a crime-fighting superhero, the majority of the screen time in Spiderman 3 is focused on people without tights. The bulk of the movie seems to be dealing with Spiderman's alter-ego, Peter Parker coping with his mundane life. In fact, so much time is devoted to Peter not being Spiderman, the villains don't seem to be really developed very well. Perhaps if the writers had pared things down a bit and concentrated on one or two bad guys, the plot might have fared better. As it is, the fights between spiderman and the villains are brief and (in the case of Venom) we don't really get a feeling for who these guys are or why Spiderman should fear them. At least, not until Sandman and Venom gang up on Spiderman and pound the stuffing out of him while a large crowd of police, firemen, and assorted civilians watch (hey, anybody think of picking up a rock and throwing it?)

After watching that, I was in the mood for a comedy, which brings us to the second film in the review, Santa Clause 3.

The problem with G rated films is that the studios can't resist the urge to throw in lots of jokes, pratfalls and sound effects to amuse the kiddies. (To be fair, the sound effects are probably there so they can get away with the violence and still have a G rating). While Santa Clause 3 is not immune to this formula, they at least keep it to a minimum, trusting in the acting ability of the film's star performers. Tim Allen turns in the same performance he did in the first two films, as a man who is both convincing as Santa Claus, and still aware of his human failings. In this film he is joined by two other comedic actors, Martin Short and Alan Arkin. Unfortunately, Alan Akin just isn't given enough material to let his comedic talent shine. It may be just as well, because it would distract from the main story. Martin Short does a terrific job as the scheming Jack Frost, bent on getting a holiday of his own. Unlike in Santa Clause 2, where Tim Allen had to play against himself, Allen and Short work well together and I hope I'm not the only one who'd like to see these two together again (but let's make it a different franchise, ok?)

In summary, Santa Clause 3 delivers on the story it promises to tell and does so in an entertaining way. It's not as good as the first film, but just slightly better than the second one, simply because of Short's contributions.

Hey, more DVD's on my shelf. Maybe I'll write some more of these.

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