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Showing posts from May, 2007

Jump for Annoy…

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It is very difficult trying to update a blog when you shouldn't be browsing the Internet for interesting news. So, considering I haven't done this for a few months, here is a copy-paste of my April backpage GEAR column. I don't think it will be a problem posting this "filler" article up, seeing as April is long since past, and the mag's first year anniversary issue hasn't been on shelves for 30+ days.

Jump for Annoy…

On the seventh day God looked over His creation, saw that it was good, and rested. The next day, Satan got to work, devising Monday morning gridlock, the mosquito, Telkom and… the jumping puzzle.

I’ve moaned a lot in the past about gaming frustrations but one of the oldest, and arguably the greatest, is the jumping puzzle. Crossing an expansive area by leaping from platform to (typically moving) platform nibbles away on nerves, particularly when combined with save point systems that force you to retread the same territory and tackle the same ob…

Some gaming under my belt

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I’ve fallen behind with my gaming lately. I know that makes it sound all laborious and job-like, but with writing gaming columns and on the side of my full-time job, it kinda is. You can’t allow yourself to fall behind. Plus, I’m one of those people who feels guilty about buying or loading a game and then neglecting it.

So, after the Amazing Race last night (God, I love that show), I devoted a couple of hours to Jade Empire: Special Edition. I’m still struggling with the combat, particularly when I try to mix up my fighting styles – physical, harmonious support, weapon, chi-stealing – but the story is excellent. Even if, as a typical Action-Adventure gamer, I do sometimes get impatient with having to spend 5 minutes taking to every person I meet.

Anyway, speaking of games, in what has to pass for the weirdest ever announced video-game-to-film adaptation, management title The Sims – one of the highest selling game series of all time – could soon be heading to the big screen.


From: Variet…

No Trailer Tuesday

The problem with having the fastest Googling fingers in the agency is that it also turns you into one of the top Internet protocol abusers. Uh-oh. So I have to cut back on my “personal” web browsing, and, with the company having blown our cap, we’re all restricted to work related online research until Friday. Guess I’ll be reading a lot of News24, my home page...

Unfortunately that means I can’t scrounge YouTube for a trailer today. Which isn’t too much of a problem seeing as I’m kind of running short of interesting upcoming releases. As always, please feel free to post up or email me your suggestions…

Anyway, instead of Trailer Tuesday, here’s a list of high profile films coming soon to South African cinemas:

The Reaping: Friday, 8 June.
Hillary Swank in a biblical plagues horror-thriller.

Oceans 13 Wednesday, 13 June.
Sequel number 2 to the all-star crime caper series.

Fantastic 4 – Rise of the Silver Surfer: Friday, 22 June.
The Silver Surfer and world-devouring Galactus join this Marvel c…

The Weekend

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Phew, well I was certainly glad it was payday on Friday. For one thing birthday season is coming up, with the birthdays of Paul, assorted members of my and his family, as well as various friends all lined up. This last week I did some online shopping to make a dent in the present buying – and at the same time treated myself to some DVD specials… and my own kettlebell weights, which should be arriving in 4 weeks or so.

Anyway, my calendar has something on every weekend until at least mid July. This coming Saturday is the big Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu tournament at Gateway, and I’m starting to get nervous. Especially since I couldn’t practice at all last week with my bad head cold.

Losing on points isn’t really a worry – rather I’m more concerned about the possibility of being embarrassingly outclassed by a superior opponent and quickly submitted during the 5 minute round. I mean, who wants to get their ass handed to them in public with dozens of spectators watching?

As for this last weekend, …

What's going on?

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Something very strange is happening.

So far critics and the viewing public have been backlashing against the big sequels of the US Summer movie season (Spider-Man 3, Shrek the Third, Pirates of the Caribbean 3: At World’s End) – which bloat the studios’ coffers nonetheless.

Common complaints? “Too long.” “Tired.” “Too many characters and plot lines.” “Bigger is not better.”

What's strange about all this?

I’ve actually been quite content with the offerings so far. Sometimes even pleasantly surprised. Of course I can see the films’ many flaws, but they’re still an entertaining diversion for a few hours – even if I wouldn’t rush out and add the DVD to my collection.


"So, who's been asked to come back for Number 4?"

Pirates of the Caribbean: At World’s End is released worldwide today. It’s expected to shatter all known box office records, but so far reviews have been mixed to negative. Although, the geeky Aint It Cool News reviewers have been kinder.

What I don’t understand …

Gaming glory for Friday

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Oh. My. I've been tracking the development of Assassin's Creed, the latest project from the same team behind one of my favourite ever game series: Prince of Persia. This time expect acrobatic combat (and free roaming) in 12th Century Jerusalem, in the midst of the Crusades.

The Wiki plot:

Assassin's Creed is a video game being developed by Ubisoft Montreal and published by Ubisoft, set for release in 2007. The game takes place during the Third Crusade, in the year 1191. The player assumes the role of Altaïr (الطائر, Arabic, "The flying" eagle), a member of the assassin sect Hashshashin, whose objective is to assassinate the nine historical figures who are propagating the Crusades. As the player finds and kills these targets, their conspiracy is unveiled. The player will be able to travel through three cities, Jerusalem, Acre, and Damascus.

Anyway, this trailer is truly a thing of beauty!



The game is set for release this year, on Xbox 360, PS3 and PC. I really, reall…

New Watchmen casting rumours

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Oh boy oh boy oh boy oh boy… There are new casting rumours circulating about Watchmen, Zack Synder’s ambitious attempt to adapt the greatest graphic novel of all time for the big screen.


Aint It Cool News reports that Patrick Wilson is being approached to play the mild-mannered Night Owl, a Batman-esque vigilante who has felt impotent since hanging up his cowl and tights. (Night Owl is in brown in the bottom right of the pic).

Jude Law has replaced Tom Cruise as the number one choice to play Ozymandias, the golden boy of masked crime fighters, who has shrewdly made a fortune by going public with his alter ego. (He’s the scowling blonde guy with the headband).

And ‘The One’ himself, Keanu Reeves could be playing another “The One”, Dr Manhattan, the only genuine superhero on the planet, whose powers over space, time and reality have guaranteed American superiority during the Cold War, but at the same time distanced him from humanity. (He’s the big naked blue dude).

The only casting rumo…

Pirates of the Caribbean: At World's End

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I’ve never been the biggest fan of the Pirates of the Caribbean series. This is largely because I found the films overlong and bogged down by convoluted plots that resulted in a lot of repetition – characters moving back and forth from the same locations, striking up similar deals and doing identical ‘piratey’ things. This said, I did find the films more palatable with repeat viewings, where I was able to process events more carefully.

Anyway, as for the third instalment of the Pirates trilogy, At World’s End, I’m pleased to report that if you loved the first 2 films, you’ll have a complete blast with number 3. Many of my complaints above stand, but the film makers cleverly avoided the Spider-Man 3 pitfall of overloading the film with new characters, plotlines and overwhelming action set pieces.


The only new high profile character, pirate lord Sao Feng (Chow Yun-Fat) is actually a disappointment – personality-less, he exists merely as a plot device to help the characters reach World’s E…

Trailer Tuesday: The Golden Compass

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Yeah, sorry for the late-ish update. I had a dentist appointment this morning. As I expected, the pain I’ve been having on-and-off on the bottom left side of my face isn’t my teeth – they’re in perfect condition. Rather, it’s the jaw joint itself. I haven’t been grinding my teeth, though. Rather, the teeth aren’t meeting perfectly and that’s causing the joint to twist slightly. I have a sneaking suspicion the frequent elbow-on-jaw pressure in Jiu-jitsu is to blame for the alignment issues.

Anyway, it turns out it’s one of those problems I’ll have to live with for the rest of my life – don’t you love the finality of health problems when you start getting older? The most I can do, if the pain ever gets too unbearable, or causes my jaw to seize, is get a plate made that I will wear for the rest of my life…

Anyway, at least I’m over the “not knowing” stage. Onto the usual entertainment news updates...

Released yesterday was the teaser trailer for fantasy The Golden Compass, due for release i…

The weekend

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Well, I went into the weekend with a head cold that was full blown by Sunday, so I generally tried to take it easy – and as a result missed Burn on Saturday night and a No Rules Fight (featuring some of our Novagen club members) on Sunday evening.

Anyway, on Friday night we attended a massive birthday dinner (probably 30 people) for a friend, Kirsten, at the Musgrave Mimmos. It was very enjoyable evening, and we got to chat to some friends from long-lost university days, who we hadn’t seen in ages.

Saturday was pretty much consumed entirely by rugby. We were in the car at 12, arrived in the stadium at 1pm and then had to wait 2 hours for the match to begin.


We were shocked and annoyed by the number of Blue Bulls supporters present – it was like we were in Loftus. Plenty of our friends had struggled and failed to get tickets for the match, while 3 of the 4 stadium sides were bright blue with the Pretoria team’s supporters. What’s the advantage of a home final when all the tickets are sna…

Heath Ledger's Joker revealed

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I posted up a link to this websitelast week, showing some clever marketing for Batman Begins sequel, The Dark Knight - namely some political campaign material for future Two-Face, Harvey Dent.

Warner Brothers wasn't content to leave things there, however, and also set up a "hacked" website. For every e-mail address and code entered, a pixel was removed from the defaced pic, to reveal another image underneath.The image revealed?

The first official pic of Heath Ledger's Joker - more self-mutilated anarchist than Jack Nicholson's flamboyant showman:


Aint It Cool News also has some photos of Joker playing cards that have begun to appear mysteriously scattered in LA comic book stores.

300 DVD announcement

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Nice! According to SuperHeroHype, there's going to be 3 different versions of the 300 DVD available in the US (Region 1): A single-disc fullscreen, a single-disc widescreen and a 2-disc widescreen special edition. Guess which one I'm leaning towards purchasing? ;)

Special Features on the special edition include:

Audio Commentary with director Zack Snyder, writer Kurt Johnstad and director of photography Larry Fong.

Deleted Scenes with Introduction by Zack Snyder.

300 Spartans - Fact or Fiction? (24:31mins) - Historians, authors and filmmakers reveal how much of the film was based on fact.

Who Were The Spartans: The Warriors of 300 (4:24mins) - Touches on the customs and ways of life of the Spartan that weren’t explicitly shown in 300 but were used by the actors and filmmakers to help build their characters.

Frank Miller Tapes (13:00mins) - We’ll show how the outspoken Miller continued to push his limits to realize his epic graphic novel in the world of film

Webisodes: Behind the scen…

Busy times ahead...

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Phew, it's going to be a busy few weeks and weekends! Apart from friends' birthdays, weddings and all-day Jiu-Jitsu tournaments, we're going to the Super 14 Final this Saturday afternoon - having secured Paul's parents' season tickets.



Speaking of rugby, we had Blue Bulls Day at work on Wednesday - we all had to wear blue or dress like Afrikaners... as well as endure Bok van Blerk's De Le Rey song multiple times. Today is Sharks Friday so we're all in official team gear, or black and white.

Anyway, yay, we're going to a Pirates of the Caribbean: At World's End preview next Tuesday evening.


Oh, and for anyone interested, my DnD character for the game we started last night is a Half-elf Paladin - a muscled, 2 metre tall male warrior with long white hair and muttonchop sideburns.

Dark Knight political posturing

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This is some pretty cool, super-early, viral marketing for Batman Begins sequel, The Dark Knight.


Don't forget that the Gotham City district attorney in Batman Begins was killed, so there will naturally need to be a replacement in this movie. Enter charismatic Harvey Dent, the seemingly squeaky-clean attorney with politicical ambitions. The only problem? Dent has spent his whole life suppressing his rage out of guilt. All it takes is one acid attack to unleash his long-chained alter ego, the coin-flipping Two Face.

Well, these events may not all be depicted in The Dark Knight... if Bat fans remember correctly Harvey Dent (Billy Dee Williams) appeared merely as a district attorney, and not his split personality, in Tim Burton's original Batman. Who knows? Maybe Heath Ledger's Joker will coax out Two Face this time around?

Anyway, there's also a new synopsis for the film, according to SuperHeroHype:

Batman raises the stakes in his war on crime. With the help of Lieutenant J…

Remakes!

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Up until now, this week has been pretty quiet at work, but it’s amazing how quickly weekday nights fly by when you have something on every evening and don’t just sit lethargically watching TV – Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu Monday and Wednesday, a boozy dinner at Waxy’s on Tuesday and tonight’s the first of a planned weekly Dungeons & Dragons tabletop gaming evening.

Anyway, time for some gaming news, which is probably appropriate seeing as today is the birthday of Lord Spaceman, Durban’s own Nintendo/Xbox fanboy. Happy birthday!

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Remaking gaming classics seems to be the in-thing right now. Some of you may argue that it’s merely a sign of laziness on the part of developers and publishers, who are content to financially leech off established success with minimal work on their part. Some of you may argue that revamps are a good thing, as they’ll introduce gamers to classics they’re otherwise resistant to because of horribly dated graphics and controls.

Anyway, Xbox gamers will soon be treated …

Deathly Hallows not the last...

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Well, this is hardly a surprise, but JK Rowling may not be finished with the Harry Potter universe after all. For a long time Jo had insisted that after Book 7 of the Potter series, The Deathly Hallows, she would no longer be writing stories about the boy wizard.

Rowling's kinda kept her word - instead of another novel she's considering writing an encyclopedia of everything Potterish, specifically so she can cover aspects of the wizarding world that just couldn't fit into the books. All proceeds from sales will go to charity, as they did with the other 2 Potter mini-reference books, the awesome Quidditch Through The Ages and Fantastic Beasts And Where To Find Them.


Anyway this reminds me... I better double-check that I have preordered my copy of Deathly Hallows for the 21 July release. The Exclusive Books employee who "reserved" my copy a few months back wasn't exactly the freshest cookie in the box.

From: News24.com

JK Rowling's new Potter hint

London - B…

More Ancient World Action...

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Brace yourself for Dante's Peak with togas! It turns out that Roman Polanksi (Chinatown, Rosemary's Baby, The Pianist) is at work on a film adaptation of Robert Harris's bestselling novel Pompeii.


The plot: Pompeii tells the story of the eruption of Mt. Vesuvius in A.D. 79 through the eyes of a young engineer, Marcus Attilius, who is sent to repair the greatest aqueduct in the Roman Empire, which brings water to 250,000 people on the Bay of Naples. Attilius not only has to fight the corrupt forces that control the town of Pompeii, but ultimately the overwhelming power of nature itself.

Ancient epic meets disaster blockbuster - as the one unmistakable vendor at the Durban cricket and rugby stadiums would say, "What a delicious combination of flavours!"


The only drawback? Apparently Orlando Bloom, along with Scarlett Johansson, are being considered for the leads. Johansson isn't a problem at all, but Bloom's lack of commanding presence has a tendency to sink…

Rated R for Smoking

I came across this interesting little news snippet over at IMDB. Apparently films could soon receive age restrictions simply for showing smoking onscreen... I'm not a smoker, but really, how pathetically soft and scared are we becoming as a species that we censor/slap warnings on essentially all depictions of "unpolitically correct" things? Hollywood, by doing this you're supporting the all those 'monkey-see monkey-do' theorists who blame people's actions on their media consumption.

Smoke in Movies -- Get an "R"

In a rare alteration of its movie ratings system, the MPAA said on Thursday that the panel that assesses Hollywood movies will begin considering "depictions that glamorize smoking or movies that feature pervasive smoking outside of a historic or other mitigating context." Until now, the subjects that movie raters have primarily considered are violence, language, nudity, and drugs. In a statement, MPAA CEO Dan Glickman said, "…

Trailer Tuesday: 28 Weeks Later

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I thoroughly enjoyed Danny Boyle's next-generation zombie film 28 Days Later. Along with Zack Synder's remake of Dawn of the Dead, it resurrected all my old chase nightmares... except this time the pursuers were rapid, unstoppable, haemorrhaging zombies.

28 Days Later did have a major flaw though that tarnished the squirming horror brilliance: the last third act, involving desperate soldiers at a military outpost.

Now, the sequel, 28 Weeks Later has just released in the US to excellent reviews, and a No. 2 spot at the box office (behind Spidey 3 of course). The critical response: 28 Weeks Later is actually that rare sequel that tops the original, combining exhilarating action, stomach-turning suspense and gore, and intelligent scripting.


The plot this time:
28 WEEKS LATER, the follow-up to the terrifically successful 28 Days Later, picks up six months after the rage virus has annihilated the British Isles. The US Army declares that the war against infection has been won, and that…

The Weekend

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Friday evening was the most chilled of the weekend. Paul and I just vegged on the couch, eating pizza and catching up on the first 2 episodes of Rome: Season 2. Events follow on directly from the end of Season 1, with the characters reeling from Julius Caesar’s assassination. Rome’s political life has been plunged into chaos, with bullying soldier Mark Antony stepping in to act as all-powerful Consol despite Caesar naming adolescent Octavian as his heir.

Rome is a fantastic series, but like Lost, it’s impossible to suddenly sit down and start watching it – you actually have to begin with Season 1 Episode 1 to really come to terms with the incredibly large cast, their complicated relationships with one another, and the general political intrigue.


On Saturday we did some Mother’s Day shopping and browsing at the Pavillion and then headed very early to Absa Stadium for the Super 14 Rugby Semi-final between the Sharks and the Blues.

Apart from a sluggish start to the second half (actually c…

Girlz 'N' Games #23

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When 300 was released, a number of guys complained about the lack of realism, particularly in terms of the Spartans' battle gear. Of course, we know the real reason why they were uncomfortable with such 'dudity'...

Dark fun for Friday

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Sitting in stop-start rush hour traffic every morning and evening, I'm afraid I've found myself slowing leaning towards the dark side. Mostly I've been thinking that perhaps a little mini-Apocalypse wouldn't be too bad. Imagine 1 million less people in every city. Imagine the idiot-free, uncongested roads... Perhaps just a dash of bird flu, maybe some SARS, a little evolved super AIDS or even some sterilising agents in the water supply for a Children of Men future...

Anyway, speaking of evil fantasy, I've been tracking the development of PC and Xbox 360 game Overlord (from Age of Wonders developers Triumph Studios) for a while now.


Honestly, Overlord is probably my most anticipated game of 2007. From the first full trailer below it just looks like so much fun - setting idiot peasants and bouncing sheep on fire, dueling with unicorns and all the while monitoring your devoted, if easily distracted, army of Gremlin-esque minions.

Finally a return to Dungeon Keeper styl…

Crank

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If you go into Jason Statham’s latest film expecting the over-serious tone and hyper-choreographed wire-stunt fight sequences of his Transporter movies, you’ll be disappointed… because Crank is funny, brawling, high energy mayhem all the way. It’s the closest you’ll ever get to a Grand Theft Auto movie – shot in the same disjointed MTV style of crime capers like Snatch.


The film has a fantastic, simple premise for an action flick – retired hitman Chev Chelios (Statham) wakes up to discover he’s been injected with a Chinese synthetic poison. Chelios is out for revenge, but in order to keep the fatal poison’s effects at bay, he has to keep his adrenaline flowing.

That means doing everything from snorting cocaine, to burning himself with a waffle iron, to gorging himself on Red Bull, to picking fights with inner city gangs, to staging hijackings and hostage situations, to spontaneous public sex with girlfriend, Amy Smart – who has always believed Chelios is a video game programmer.

What’s r…

The Weekly Weekend Update

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Ha, you thought I’d forgotten about my usual weekend activities update? Well, I promise not to bore you. Here’s the summary version.

Friday evening was just spent relaxing after a 3-day working week that felt like a full 5 days. After watching the first Pirates of the Caribbean last weekend, Paul and I watched the sequel Dead Man’s Chest on Friday evening in preparation for the third movie, released at the end of the May. We wanted to be familiar with the carry-on storyline… particularly since I micro-slept while watching Dead Man at the cinema.


Saturday was spent entirely at Gateway. We were very lucky to get the last 2 seats for the IMAX early show of Spider-Man 3 – my review here, if you haven’t seen it. So, if you want to see the film at IMAX, book! I have never seen the place so busy, and the staff wasn’t coping particularly well with the deluge of people.

Anyway, the one huge advantage of IMAX is the beauty of its design – you can actually sit on the front row, towards the side, an…

Stardust poster / advertisement

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Here's the first poster promotional visual for romantic-fantasy Stardust, which appeared over the weekend in the LA Times Sunday edition. Slashfilm.com kindly uploaded the pic, although I first became aware of it on author Neil Gaimain's blog.

It's that time of year again

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The tournament is less than a month away, and I'm starting to get nervous... particularly since something like 6 girls could be coming down from Johannesburg, and we have no idea yet of women from Cape Town. I'd expect most female competitors to be in my Under 65kg division...

In class last night I lost on points in a demo match - kinda silly really since I was in a very good position, applying an armbar for quite a while. I felt a bit better later on during end-of-class grappling when I submitted a blue belt guy via gillotine choke.

Anyway, I updated the Novagen website this morning with some details on the Africa Cup. There are also some new, cute images in the Picture Gallery section of the every-growing Kids' Class.

Trailer Tuesday Twosome

This UK trailer for Stardust isn't much different from the US I posted a few weeks back, but there are a few extra scenes included that help make the romantic fantasy's tonal jumps a little less jarring. Plus, in this trailer you get to see the 'Dead brothers' as well as enjoy a more gratifying clip montage right at the end. Stardust opens in the US in August, and has just received another glowing review from the Aint It Cool News geeks.


This is the final trailer, meanwhile, for Fantastic 4: Rise of the Silver Surfer, which is released in North America on 15 June. I was one of those few people who were actually quite happy with the original film. I'm probably in the minority this time when I say I'm happy with the rumoured decision that the Silver Surfer's master, Galactus, the Eater of Worlds (who I've always thought was a dumb character), will be represented as a solar/storm cloud instead of a giant humanoid. As far as I'm concerned the Fantastic …

Spider-Man 3

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Again, I reviewed this movie for a new magazine I’m involved in, but this is a far longer, more in-depth review than the one that will appear in print.

As a sidenote: For anyone wanting to see this film at IMAX – book! I have never seen the cinema so busy.

And, for those of you interested in box office figures, as expected, Spidey 3 has shattered records, with the biggest opening in cinema history... $375 million worldwide! I’m curious to see what the drop-off will be next weekend. And don’t forget that Pirates 3 opens on 25 May, in 3 weeks’ time.



Spider-Man 3 may have plenty of flaws, but it’s easily the most interesting of the Spider-Man movies. This is largely because the returning cast finally gets to explore different aspects of their characters.

Tobey Maguire’s Peter Parker/Spider-Man, for example, is no longer a teary-eyed, frequently bullied wimp. His life is going well – Spider-Man is a celebrated hero, he’s top of his class, he’s finally earning some respect at the Daily Bugle…