Spider-Man 3 Dazzles And Fizzles!

Spider-Man 3 onesheetSpider-Man 3 is bigger and more spectacular than its predecessors. It's also proof positive that Sam Raimi should have never let Avi Arad persuade him to add Venom to the film. There are enough good-to-great moments to recommend Spidey 3 but, in the end, the sum of its parts is a good deal less than its whole…









Peter Parker [Tobey Maguire] has finally decided to ask Mary Jane Watson [Kirsten Dunst] to marry him. Armed with the engagement ring his late Uncle Ben [Cliff Robertson] gave Aunt May [Rosemary Harris] – and a bit of a pep talk from his aunt – Peter heads off to tell MJ how he feels when… Harry Osborne [James Franco] – in spiffy new armor and aboard a sweet new ride – attacks, making Peter drop the ring.

Meanwhile, Flint Marko [Thomas Hayden Church] has escaped prison and, while running from the police, stumbles into a classified area just as ominous machinery lights up and whirrs into action. And then there's Eddie Brock [Topher Grace], who's angling for a job at The Daily Bugle – where he's not above shamelessly flattering editor J. Jonah Jameson [J.K. Simmons]. Then there's the meteor that crashes in Central Park – and the black, oily thing that issues forth from it.

Spider-Man 3 - Spidey vs Sandman

Eventually, Parker acquires a new costume that brings his bad boy side to the surface; Marko goes on a crime spree – and thumps Spidey; and Brock comes up with a photo that paints Spidey as a big-time robber. Long-time fans will realize that Spidey's new costume isn't exactly kosher and what happens to Brock is, from that point on, inevitable.

There are at least three really good movies mashed up in Spider-Man 3: an angsty romantic drama that features Peter, MJ and Harry; a prison escape because of extremely extenuating circumstances, featuring Spidey, Marko [now the familiar Sandman] and his dying daughter, and the competition between Brock and Peter for the new staff job at the Bugle. Each of them – indeed, any two of them – could have led to a brilliant film, but all three just wind up getting in each other's way.

Spider-Man 3 - Bad boy Pete

It's too bad that this happened. Raimi propels the story along with grace and wit, for the most part. The cast gives a series of good-to-great performances. The CGI is exemplary and the action set pieces range from impressive to awesome. The problem is that there are too many characters; too many arcs that crossover in too many ways, and it goes on too long.

Had there been fewer arcs and less effort to shoehorn everything in, Spidey 3 would have packed a far more devastating punch. Instead, each and every moment of true emotional impact is given to little time to act on the audience before we're on to the next big slam-bang action sequence. Then there's the way that the different arcs are shot: the Peter/MJ/Harry stuff is almost languid; the Spidey/Marko/daughter arc is kinda of a medium pace, and the Spidey/Venom/Sandman stuff seems so frenetic that it could provide energy for a small city. Unfortunately, the shifts between arcs are frequently too abrupt, giving the impression that there's good stuff that was edited out for timing reasons that should still be there [which would have made the film even longer].

In the end, Spider-Man 3 is, while being worth seeing, the least of the three films in the series. If Raimi had gone with the Harry/New Goblin and Marko/Sandman stuff – or the Sandman/Venom stuff – this could have been a superhero masterpiece. Instead, the overkill may satisfy ultra-comics-geeks, but Spider-Man 3 is only just worth watching on the big screen…

Grade: C+


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