Notes from the back row 

A retraction of sorts

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“High flying, webslinging, ass-kicking good times.” That is what, just before heading of to Toronto for a few weeks, I told you to expect from Spider-Man 3.

What a crock of shit. Yeah sure, there were some webslinging good times, and the Sandman stuff was actually pretty cool, but you can only imagine my pain, dear readers, while sitting in a packed Toronto theatre on opening night, as I suffered through the most confusing, ridiculous film I’ve seen in a long time.

What the F? That scene where MJ and Harry make omelets? Who puts one tiny teaspoon of chopped peppers in an omelet? Or, for that matter, what kind of evil mega-villain even uses a teaspoon when he puts peppers into an omelet? Gay.

And don’t even get me started on the jazz-hands dance sequences, the black-costume strut, or the ah-so-easy ending. I realize it’s a comic book movie but come on, kinda juvenile and pedestrian.

Of course the sophisticated big-city Toronto audience ate it all up, and that movie was bigger than god on opening weekend. I still felt a pang of shame though, for misleading you all, and for that I apologize. I really thought Sam Raimi could do better than that. What a shitheap.

But now I’m back from Toronto and there’s a whole slew of new blockbusters out so let’s jump right into things with Shrek the Third, a return to the well for one of the most successful franchises in recent history. The third story is a natural progression from the previous flicks.

Shrek and Fiona are married and, when her father dies, Shrek must deal with the duties of being king. He decides to shirk said duties and instead takes off with his posse to find now-pregnant Fiona’s half-brother Artie, a slacker teenage character that’s an obvious pander to the middle school American audience.

Meanwhile, Prince Charming assembles a cast of losers (Captain Hook, Big Bad Wolf) and promises them their own happy ending if they help him take the throne. Luckily a band of shit-kicking princesses (including a transgendered chick) have a thing or two to say about that (while female-empowerment junkies get all wet and misty eyed). In the end we’re treated to a dull, long-winded speech chock-full of valuable lessons. Not much of a climax.

The computer animation is fantastic and the numerous in-jokes, fairy tales and pop culture references are still there, you just expect them this time (you expect them to be better). While it seems the franchise has been aimed much more at kids than ever before Shrek 3 isn’t an all-bad flick, but it’s nothing new, and like most comedies lately, it sort of peters out after the first half-hour. Still though, a better sequel than Spider-Man 3 for sure.

Speaking of good sequels, despite a few easy plot points, 28 Weeks Later is still playing at the Village 8. This zombie flick sequel is part social commentary on crisis and the social breakdown that follows and part bloody, gory, zombie terror. Don, (Robert Carlyle) who abandons his wife to save himself, is later re-united with his children and brought to “The Green Zone,” a U.S. military-occupied region of London that is supposedly safe to live in as all the “infecteds” have apparently died from lack of food. Of course, all hell breaks loose and between heli-blade chopping scenes, high-angle emptiness, and waves of suspense we learn that, when the shit goes down, it’s everyone for themselves and a war on anything (terror, zombies, etc.) is ultimately self-destructive for everyone involved. It’s sharp shooting, flesh tearing, Zombie bad times. And I mean it this time.

AT VILLAGE 8 May 18-24: Shrek 3; Spiderman 3; Georgia Rule; Amazing Grace; 28 Weeks; Hot Fuzz and Blades of Glory.

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