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Nine times out of ten, in the arts as in life, there is actually no truth to be discovered; there is only an error to be exposed. -- H.L. Menken

The Rating System

Kex Liked It:
It Sucked:
It Really Sucked:
It Sucked as bad as Eyes Wide Shut:

It Sucked badly enough to bring the world to the brink of apocalypse:


The Hunt For Red October

Last Week: A Kex Classic Review: The Hunt For Red October:

I wanted to haul the tribe out this week to see The Castaway, but a confluence of circumstances postponed the expedition for a time. Perhaps we can still get to that one sometime in the next couple of weeks, since it figures to be a significant player in this year's academy awards race. But just how low has Hollywood's opinion of we, the filmgoers, dropped when they are now releasing film trailers with plot spoilers? One of the major preview segments for The Castaway actually gives away the ending. "Here is our subject, here's how we end it, come see it anyway." says Hollywood. "Here is my opinion, its a lame freaking thing to do, blow it out your ass Hollywood." replies Kex.

Tom Clancy was an extremely popular writer back in the 80's. I guess he still is, but since his most significant foil for political thrillers has disappeared from the map, its a difficult job these days to write high tension global conflict stories. Reading about heroic American CIA agents kicking ass on hapless third world countries capable of only mounting small scale terrorist attacks just isn't the same thing as the U.S. and U.S.S.R facing off, eye ball to eye ball, with 50,000 nuclear weapons warming up in the silos.

I've read some of Clancy's work and enjoyed it in sort of the same hide-in-the-closet-and-don't-discuss-it-with-anyone fashion that I enjoy professional wrestling. I'd guess that most of Clancy's readers are also pretty big professional wrestling fans. I imagine they used to go to the matches just to avidly boo guys like The Iron Sheik and Nicholi Volkov. Then they went home afterward and bowed to posters of Sgt. Slaughter on the walls of their makeshift shacks hidden deep in the Montana wilderness where guys like Ted Koczynski stroll out in their robes to pick up the morning paper next door.

The Hunt For Red October is typical Clancy fare. James Bond disquises himself as Soviet Sub Commander Marco Ramius (Sean Connery) and decides to steal his sub and defect to America. A few loyal officers aboard are willing to help him in the effort, but most of the crew is ignorant of his intent. This creates a host of conflicts since the Soviet Navy is not keen on having a new state-of-the art sub abscounded, and the Americans are nervous about the Russian navy steaming at high speed toward the east coast with a new high tech nuclear sub apparently leading the charge.

Meanwhile CIA agent Jack Ryan (obligatory Baldwin brother Alec) is assigned to figure out exactly what is going on. He reasons that Ramius must be trying to defect, because it happens to be the anniversary of his wife's death in a tragic car accident. That is the kind of thing that typically drives men to steal billion dollar military equipment and flee to rival nations they have devoted their lives to protecting their homelands against. Its up to Ryan to sell his idea to skeptical government operatives and military leaders, which leads to him being assigned to attempt to make contact with Ramius.

Meanwhile, back aboard the sub, Ramius' crew is getting suspicious when they discover that they are being chased down by most of the Soviet navy, armed with live ammo. Getting shot at and depth charged probably does make it difficult to preserve Ramius' explanation that the entire event is an exercise to test the submarine's new propulsion system, but so great is the faith of the crew in the legendary submarine captain, they continue to follow him blindly.

Ryan is landed aboard an aircraft carrier group where he must persuade the Admiral (Jack Thompson, now a Republican congressman who probably has a seat next to the guy who used to be Gopher on The Love Boat) to get him in contact with Ramius and The Red October. But the Soviets have warned the Americans that Ramius is crazy, and intends to launch his missles off the east coast. A tense situation is brewing in the Atlantic with American and Soviet vessels squaring off, and everyone hunting Red October.

Ryan notices the position of an American sub, The Dallas, under the command of Bart Mancuso (Scott Glenn). Ryan is informed that The Dallas is chasing after an anomalous radio blip, which he realizes is Red October. Arrangements are made to get Ryan out to the Dallas. Mancuso is naturally as skeptical of Ryan's story as the rest of the government and military, but agrees to listen to Ryan as the result of a bit of blind luck: the Red October makes a manuver as predicted by Ryan.

Astonishingly enough to everyone, Ryan turns out to be right: Ramius is defecting. He manages to get his crew off the sub by faking a reactor core leak, and the crew is picked up by an American ship. Now the Americans are allowed aboard, and it becomes possible to steal the submarine. But events are complicated by the presense of a Russian agent aboard, who attempts a last ditch effort to avoid loss of the sub. He plans to blow it up. Thus its up to Ryan and Ramius to hunt him down aboard the sub and kill him before he can detonate the torpedos.

Ramius and Ryan succeed and sail the Soviet sub home in victory. The disheartened Soviet Union realizes that they can't compete with the industrial might of the American military industrial complex as released by Ronald Reagan, and promply the nation disolves one memorial day when a drunk does a tap dance on a tank. He subsequently is elected the new president of Russia.

The Iron Curtain comes down, and Germany is restored to one nation. The American economy collapses into a decade of recession as the result of reckless military spending, but that is of no consequence: The U.S.S.R is dead.

By the time the American economy begins to recover, the principle obsession of the American people is whether or not a president should be removed from office because he got a hummer from a young White House intern. The principle obsession of the Russian people is where they are getting their next meal, or even if there will be one. The principle obsession of Tom Clancy was who would be the foil in his next political thriller, which would earn him about 10 times as much money as most of the people in the former U.S.S.R would ever have in their entire lives.

Last Week: Kate And Leopold:

The fundamental theme of this movie can be summarized in a very brief phrase: Men suck. At least all of them that were born since the beginning of the 20th century. Osama Bin Laden is one of the finer examples of the influence of Y chromosomes and testosterone if you are to believe this piece of crap. That message will probably be received somewhat enthusiasticly from the film's primary audience, since this is an absolutely unashamed, unabashed chick flick. Too bad the film isn't even remotely honest about its own premise.

The plotline of this film revolves around a man who finds a way to travel back and forward in time. Instead of inventing a time machine, he comes up with some sort of idea which allows him to predict time waves in approximately the same fashion as meterologists predict rainstorms. But since he has to jump off the Brooklyn Bridge in order to travel through the time distortions, one has to hope that his predictions are a little more accurate; or not, based upon the story that resulted from his idea.

The first time distortion the man travels through takes him back to New York City in 1876, at a time where nothing particularly interesting is going on. The tone for the entire film is thus set. Instead of looking for a time distortion that could have taken him to Dallas in November of 1963 to see if there were really other shooters, or Whitechapel in 1889 to catch The Ripper redhanded, he goes a time and place where there is not a damned thing of interest happening. Well, conveniently enough, the Brooklyn Bridge is under construction, but other than that, there is no reason for him to have gone to that time and place.

When he returns to the present, he accidentally brings Leopold, the Duke of Something or Other back with him. Leopold is noted to history for inventing the elevator, an accomplishment so monumental that if it hadn't been for his unprecedented genious, mankind would have undoubtedly had to wait a week or two for someone else to have come up with essentially the same idea.

Leopold was in America because his family had apparently squandered their fortune, and his uncle was forcing him to marry into American money. Leopold didn't really want to do that, because he was a man of impecible integrity who wanted to invent stuff and make a fortune of his own. What a guy. They don't make men like that anymore.

Once in the present, the time traveler accidentally falls down an elevator shaft and ends up in the hospital for several days. Meanwhile, Leopold (Hugh Jackman) meets the time traveler's ex-girlfriend, Kate (Meg Ryan) who lives downstairs. Rather than immediately lapsing into convulsive fits of abject disorientation at the changes in the world and astonishing advances in technology that have occured in 125 years, Leopold seems to fit into the modern world with somewhat less difficulty than one might experience in traveling from San Francisco to Cleveland.

Naturally Kate begins to fall for Leopold, because he is not an insecure, womanizing pig like all the men that surround her in the early 21st century. She doesn't really believe that he has traveled back from 1876, since her brother Charlie (Breckin Meyer) is an actor and the two believe that Leopold is as well. Kate ends up hiring Leopold to do advertising spots for her firm, because in audience test samplings, women perceive him as being honest and sexy, as opposed to 21st century men who are, well, we've discussed that.

Eventually the time traveler escapes the hospital and persuades Leopold that he must return to his own time. But in a photo he took while back in 1876, he discovers that Kate is at the party where Leopold is set to announce his engagement, and her presence in the past is also part of history. In essense, reality is some sort of bizzare loop where the time traveler went back in time, brough Leo forward, then sent Kate back to him. So time wasn't distorted in any fashion but rather, what was supposed to happen was happening.

PLOT SPOILER WARNING: THE ENDING OF THE FILM WILL NOW BE REVEALED: Kate does travel back in time, and apparently marries Leopold. He invents the elevator and the duo probably have 80 kids, assuming that Kate doesn't expire from puperal fever after one or two. We don't see any scenes in which Leo beats her senseless the very first ensuing election day when she decides to go out and vote, and he is required to prevent her to do so since its against the law. We also miss scenes in which he horsewhips her for smoking, which women were only allowed to do in secret at best. We didn't see him smacking her around for suggesting that she would like to get a job, not that she would have been able to find one anyway, or smacking her senseless for her inability to actually cook things from scratch, as she would have been required to do 125 years ago.

Yes, 1876 would have been a real Valhalla for an educated, liberated woman of the 21st century. I'm sure that Kate would have remained enamored with all of Leopold's world views and attitudes toward such matters as women's rights and her responsibilites in the marriage. Watching half of her children die from some disease that is reasonably minor now days would have been a real joy for her too, and assuming that she did overcome the treacheries of childbirth on every occasion, she at least would have been rid of him by about age 50, since he probably would have died by then. That would have left her a widow with no skills worthwile at the time, no right to any part of his estate, and on the streets for whatever short portion of her life lay ahead of her.

Last Week: Two Week's Notice: (Don't miss the special bonus review, Solaris which follows this review)

As an experiment intended to determine how much pain a human being could endure in a single evening, I selected a film this week that features Hugh Grant AND Sandra Bullock. The Nazis probably could have saddled themselves with an even worse reputation if they had done something like this in the WWII camps. Fortunately, neither Bullock or Grant had been born yet.

This is one of those grossly worn out, formula comedies about opposites attracting. Bullock is a liberal lawyer who is trying to fight the good fight for the downtrodden and oppressed. Grant is the billionaire industrialist who plows down old buildings to build lots of modern, magnificent skyscrappers and the like.

Grant's character is also a notorious womanizer, and he has a habit of hiring pretty female lawyers mostly so he can bag them. You see, Grant isn't really running the company. He is just its attractive public face. The company is actually run by his chubby, bald British brother, and apparently the public would react less favorably to the company's projects if they didn't have pictures of Grant to grace the cover of Newsweek and Time every few weeks.

In an effort to save a beloved community center that looks like it will fall down in a few weeks even without Grant's intervention, Bullock permits herself to be hired on as Grant's new lead attorney. The job turns out to be a nightmare for her, because Grant is a pathetic loser who can't even pick out his own ties. Thus Bullock has to dress him, make sure he is where he is supposed to be on time, answer calls from him at 2 AM, help him with toidy duties, whatever...

After several months of this treatment, which is far beyond what anyone making 6 figures a year can apparently indure, Bullock decides that she needs to find someone to replace her and go back to scratching out a living as a public defender. You see, she was something of a legend at Harvard law school, and since, but apparently she couldn't land a better job inspite of her magnificent reputation.

This film represents a radical departure from most of the roles Bullock takes on. Usually she plays a writer who never actually works. In this film she plays an attorney who never actually works, although we are supposed to believe that she is a driven workaholic. This character point becomes increasingly difficult to maintain as about all we ever see her do in the movie is play tennis, attend functions and ride around in limos and helicopters with Grant. Maybe that is what people who make 6 figures mostly do.

Grant's acting abilities are really stretched in this film as well. Most of the time, he plays kind of a friendly, somewhat goony guy without a clue as to what is going on. Oh, wait, he plays that here too. Every time I see him in a movie, there is a prevailing wish that someone would run onto the set and deliver him the script so he'd look like he has some idea what is going on... at least occasionally.

The movie leads us down the path as Bullock and Grant seem to get closer and closer to a romantic tie. Then, Bullock hires her replacement, a cute, young red-haired woman, also from Harvard, and we just know that Grant will mess things up with Bullock by trying to bag her replacement. Surprise! The new attorney wants to get bagged by him. But of course, its Bullock Grant really wants. So he has to take some sort of dramatic action to win her back.

This movie follows the course of all of the standard, opposites attract love story movies that anyone who has ever been to the movies a dozen times in their lives could have mailed the plot in to the writers. None of the writers made any special effort to find anything original in the proceedings, and neither Grant or Bullock did anything out of standard character. In short, this movie isn't much more than a Dollar Store cutter Christmas cookie.

Of course, it would have been interesting to see what happened a few months after Grant and Bullock professed their love for each other, at long last, at movie end. We'd have seen a few week's harmonious bliss. Then Grant probably would have got caught with an endless series of prostitutes, and Bullock would have become fed up with his sexual antics and his revolting business practices. It all would have been followed with a messy divorce proceeding in which the talented attorney Bullock would have so thoroughly cleaned Gramt's clock that he would have ended up on the streets of New York pushing a shopping cart. That would have been worth seeing.

Previously: Cold Mountain:

Imagine the tension Oscar night. You'll be able to cut it with a knife. Yes, I can see it all now: Late Civil War epic vs. Post Civil War epic. Cold Mountain vs. The Last Samurai. Tom Cruise vs. Nicole Kidman; mano y womano, one on one, head to head. Then watch the fur fly when the winner is announced and its......probably neither of the above. But lets hope their mutual disappointment inspires a lot of catty slams at each other.

Meanwhile, back in the present, Cold Mountain is a pretty impressive piece of film making from director Anthony Minghella. This film is almost a dead-on retelling of Homer's Odyssey, with Jude Law as W.P. Inman stepping into the role of weary Odysseus, striving to get home after his courageous battles in Troy.

Waiting back home is Ada Monroe (Nicole Kidman), the preacher's daughter who falls head over heals in love with Inman, although we can't really figure out why. The guy isn't exactly a brilliant conversationalist. Then again, after seeing what else she had to choose from around the settlement of Cold Mountain, North Carolina, he was definitely the pick of the crop.

With her love Inman off the war, Ada settles into a quiet life in Cold Mountain, awaiting his return. But when her father (Donald Sutherland) kicks the bucket, she suddenly has to become much more resourceful just to survive. Unfortunately, she isn't well equiped to deal with a harsh and crumbling world, and mostly survives on the generosity of neighbors. She also has to battle the advances of the local dictator, who spends his time hunting down war desserters when he isn't trying to get into Ada's pants. He actually has time to capture one or two.

Meanwhile, Inman gets seriously injured. Eventually he recovers both his physical strength and common sense, and decides its better to be a live dissertor than a dead Confederate war hero. So he takes it on the lamb, and heads back to Cold Mountain, hoping that Ada is still hot for him.

Things back at Cold Mountain have turned into a marathon of watching Ada slowly sink into poverty, and at least half of the film is in danger of collapsing into tedious festival of Ada angst. But just in a nick of time Ruby (Rene Zellweger) arrives on the scene, and the Cold Mountain part of the story gets interesting again. Rustic Ruby provides a nice contrast to dignified by helpless Ada, and together they try to scratch out a living on the farm Ada inherited from her late father.

Inman, on the other hand, is still trudging homeward, apparently from somewhere halfway around the planet. Its not that he doesn't have some interesting adventures. But I counted at least 5 opportunites where he could have appropriated a horse and cut the length of the journey significantly. It gives us yet another reason to wonder why Ada finds him so appealing.

Along his personal journey, he befriends a priest who gets run out of town by his own flock. Together they encounter a man who leads them to a cabin of booze and sirens, only to get handed over to another band of vigillantes seeking dissertors. The whole encounter is rather interesting, because it teaches us that women apparently shaved their legs during the Civil War. Here I was under the impression that the habit in question didn't take off until the 1920's.

He eventually manages to escape with the aid of a slightly insane old woman, who has a rather weird fetish with goats. She explains at one point that goats can provide pretty much anything anyone needs: milk, companionship and meat. She added the last item just before she cut the goat's throat, which she did none too soon by my thinking. I was getting a little concerned about where she was heading with that speech.

After leaving the old woman, in better health and spirits, he wanders into the company of a sex starved young widow with a baby. This part was kind of interesting because the baby had the biggest head in the history of the world. I swear, that kid is going to grow up to be Charlie Brown. It was enormous. This movie is worth the price of admission just to see that baby's head.

So Inman wanders homeward, while Ada and Ruby grow closer and eke out a living. We march toward a memorable ending, which I have no intention of giving away. Its well worth experiencing for yourself...well for the most part. The movie was magnificent and moving, but if I have any real criticism, I might note that it probably ran about 30 minutes too long. Its not that I got bored at any point, but at 150 minutes, it probably could have been a little sleeker. That may cost it votes at Oscar time. I guess time will tell. But won't it be fun to watch the daggers flying between Tom and Nicole that night?

Last Week: Coach Carter:

I was watching a football game a couple of weeks ago when one play occurred that pretty much sums up everything that is wrong with sports in America, and the athletes that play them. The team that had the ball made a big gain, about 25 yards as I recall, putting themselves in position to score, potentially putting the game out of reach for the opposition. That didn't seem to matter much to the defender who finally made the tackle.

No, this yogurt brain jumped up after making a very routine tackle, and starting cavorting around and dancing like a junky who had just discovered the fountain of crack. To call it a pathetic display would be pretty seriously understating the case.

It didn't seem to matter in the least to this player that by making a tackle, he had performed a task that has been accomplished a few hundred times in every one of the millions of football games that have been played in the last century. Nor did it seem to matter to him that in the aggregate, something pretty bad had just happened to his team, which on the whole, was about to lead to something WORSE happening to his team. All that mattered to him was that he was getting his own personal "look at me" moment.

Its not like he accomplished something really positive, and it wouldn't matter a hell of a lot if he had. The great late Dallas Cowboys coach, Tom Landry, had very strict rules against his players celebrating after scoring a touchdown. He used to strictly tell them, "When you get into the endzone, act like you've been there before, and you are going to get there again."

I liked Coach Carter (Samuel L. Jackson) because he came down hard on his players at a practise for showboating and trash talking to their opponents. He sternly asked them, "When did winning stop being enough. What gives you the right to disgrace the game I love with your sorry antics?"

Coach Carter made his players sign a contract that they would attend all of their classes, sit in the front row, and maintain at least a 2.3 grade point average in a tough school district where most of the students don't graduate, and practically none of the athletes ever do. When some of his players failed to meet the terms of his contract, he locked them out of practise and forfeited a couple of important games.

"Don't you understand," asked the principle, "that playing these games is going to be the highlight of their lives?" Replied Coach Carter, "Isn't that precisely the problem?"

I don't meet a lot of characters in movies these days that I like, but I liked Coach Carter. If I had a child playing sports, he's the kind of coach I'd want my child to have. Teach disipline, teach sportsmanship, and keep perspective; the academics are the most important thing, because with very very very few exceptions, the sports are not going to take you anywhere career wise.

So this was a good movie. Sports these days are not good, because we have lost all perspective in this country about what sports are really about, and for. Fans are so devastatingly loyal to their own teams that they can no longer enjoy a contest without dehumanizing the fans and players of the opposing squad. Players are more interested in their own accomplishments than the bigger picture of their team's performance. Coaches are caught in a win-at-all-costs-or else environment.

we need to fix sports in the country before our exhibitions start making European soccer looked civilized. But we'll only do that with dedicated coaches like Coach Ken Carter, a real guy who coached in Richmond California. And I recommend this movie.

Last Week: Eight Below:

I am so excited! It looks like the people in D.C. are finally ready to bury the hatchet. I just got a wonderful email invitation to go quail hunting with the Vice-President! What an honor.

The preceeding paragraph is inspired by true events. They just didn't happen to me. Fortunately.

And I'm not going to load up here with a bunch of "Dead-Eye Dick" jokes. It was all just an unfortunate accident that we should all forget and put behind us. It could happen to anyone. Anyone one of you out there could accidentally go hunting without a license, and accidentally ingest some alcohol and accidentally shoot a guy 30 yards away, with a shotgun, while shooting at birds. Just keep in mind that if you do, your butt will probably accidentally end up in jail.

Coincidentally, the movie I am reviewing this week is also inspired by a true story. Or so we are told. According to the closing credits, its actually based on a Japanese novel, which is evidently inspired by a true story. Frankly, I have no desire to try to sort it all out.

And just in case you are wondering why this review is being posted a bit late, I will offer that it just isn't a lot of fun to go see a film called Eight Below when it is 12 below. Fortunately, things finally warmed up a bit, and we were able to get out and see this one.

This movie is also unique in that it is getting two ratings. That is because it is essentially two different films. First, there is the entertaining, sometimes heartbreaking, and always interesting saga of a team of Antarctic sled dogs to find themselves stranded alone when their human companions are forced to abandon the base, and there isn't sufficient room for the dogs.

Second, there is an incredibly dull tale of the humans which only exposes how much more entertaining, and better at acting the dogs are. I got so sick of hearing Gerry Shepherd (Paul Walker) whining over his guilt about leaving his dogs behind that I was half hoping that the team would rip him to shreds in anger the moment they came running over the hill and spotted him.

Gary Shepherd is a guide who leads scientists to various research destinations around Antarctica, sometimes utilizing his beloved dog team. A scientist (who evidently has no name and is played by Bruce Greenwood) comes late in the season, in search of a rock that may have come from the planet Mercury. They find the rock, but the scientist is injured, and a big storm is coming. The dogs get everyone safely back to the base.

But with another storm on the way, the humans have to high tail it out. There isn't room to take the dogs, but the pilot evacuating them (Moon Bloodgood) promises Gary that she will return for them asap. Of course, she is never able to, because storm after storm hits during the Antarctic winter. The dogs have to find ways to survive in the harsh climate.

Meanwhile, Gary hops around all over the country trying to beg up the funding to go back. His first stop is Washington D.C. in February, where all the trees are mysteriously leafed out. But all his efforts result in failure, and he can't go back.

The dogs face trials and perils in the Antarctic winter, where curiously, there is a lot more daylight than is typical in winter at the bottom of the world. I guess that must be for same reason that trees have all their leaves in D.C. in early February: The director was kind of an idiot.

Eventually Gary makes it back, around the time that scientists probably would have been heading back anyway. Most of the dogs survive, and they don't rip him apart in anger when he returns, which was a bit disappointing.

This movie is a bit of a throwback to older classic Disney films like The Incredible Journey. Its decent family fare, but somes scenes are emotionally distressing.And Paul Walker's inability to carry a lead role is consistantly emotionally distressing.

Last Week: Spiderman 3:

Never before in the history of cinema have so many whiny-ass, annoying characters been gathered together into a single film. That is saying a lot, because this film has so many villians for Spiderman to contend with that it seems impossible that he is ever going to dispose of them in anything less than 16 hours. Come to think of it, I think that is exactly the running time of this movie.

Evidently, the people who subjected us to this travesty didn't learn a darned thing about what really drove the original Batman series into cinematic oblivion. No folks, it wasn't really George Clooney, although that was something of a contributing factor. The main problem was trying to pack so many bad guys with so many competing motives into the story that nobody could remember why Batman and Robin need to kick their asses. So pretty soon, we just gave up trying and found ourselves mistakenly pulling for Batman to open up a can of whoop ass on Alfred for no other reason than him appearing onscreen.

Spiderman 3 opens with a horrifying scene of Mary Jane (Kirsten Dunst) singing. She is starring in a Broadway musical, and she is strolling down a long staircase belting out an awful song badly. In reality, I guess she is supposed to be bad, but Dunst overacted the scene. Or maybe she really is that awful. The suspiciion here falls to the latter, for reasons I will get to later.

She gets a string of awful reviews, coincident with a time in which Peter Parker (Tobey McQuire) is riding high. Things are going well at school, and Spiderman has become an extremely popular celebrity. They are even holding some sort of ceremony to give him the key to the city. This sets off M.J. on a fit of self pity. She becomes such a whiny bitch that she makes Peter's angst trip in Spiderman 2 look like he is on uppers.

But soon things get complicated for Spidey. First of all, he has to do battle with his old nemesis Harry Osborn/New Goblin (not to be confused with Harry Potter/growing very old and stale boy sorcerer). Spidy very nearly kills New Goblin, but ends up saving him. Thus Harry apparently loses his memory and reverts back to his nice old self. Actually, its just a ploy to launch a new means of destroying Peter/Spidey. He wants to steal away Mary Jane and drive Peter to complete breakdown.

Spidey also has to contend with Sandman/Flint Marko who is revealed to be the man who really killed Peter's uncle. That is a bit of revisionist history enough to drive anyone who has tortured themselves into watching the first two installments completely out of the theater. Franco is turned into Sandman when he is caught in some pointless scientific experiment, which seems to be about the only villan producing contrivance this series can come up with.

Then, Spiderman also has to do battle with his own darkside, which is unleashed by a falling meteor containing some bizzare goo that convienently manages to infect Peter. Six billion people on the planet, and Peter gets infected. The goo is a symbiotic lifeform that magnifies the personality characteristics of its host. What it mostly does is provide an opportunity for campy scenes of Peter strutting down the streets of New York City like John Travolta in Saturday Night Fever.

And, if this weren't enough, Peter also has to fight of Venom/Eddie Brock (Topher Grace of That 70's Show fame). He is a new photographer competing with Peter for a gig at the Bugle. Peter gets him fired, and once Peter fights of the alien goo, it infects Eddie who has a grudge, and he becomes Venom.

Oh. I forgot one. Peter also has to contend with unbearably whiny Mary Jane. She isn't infected with alien goo, nor does she get transformed by a scientific experiment gone amock. She just gets a terminal case of raging PMS or something, and becomes so annoying that the audience almost gave a standing ovation when Peter accidentally decks her one. Understand that we do not endorse violence to women here at K.A.W. in any way, shape or form. But M.J. had become such an insufferable bitch 10 minutes into this film that we were close to joining the majority of the audience in hoping she would get up and allow Peter to sock her again.

Here is a shocker. In the end, Spidey triumphs over all evil. He also makes the most important save of the film at the end when he stops Mary Jane from singing another song...well, not entirely. She does belt out a few was awful. This whole mess eventually turns into a pathetic moraity play, with Peter offering that we can all chose to do the right thing. For those of you who haven't seen Spiderman 3, I strongly recommend that you do the right thing and avoid it like a herd of Black Widows.

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