Published on June 21st, 2008 | by simeon0
The most anticipated film of the summer, Spider-Man 3 has arrived to the delight of moviegoers the world over. It has been roughly a little more than a year since Spider-Man (Tobey Maguire), defeated Dr. Octopus and saved the city from certain doom.
During this time, Spider-man has become New York City’s celebrated hero, and his day to day alter ego, Peter Parker, delights in his fame, while dating the love of his life, Mary Jane Watson (Kirsten Dunst).
As the film opens, Peter has decided to ask Mary Jane to be his wife, and plans to surprise her with a ring during dinner at a fancy restaurant. Mary Jane is starring in a Broadway play, and despite harsh reviews, she is living her dream and madly in love with Peter.
Things take an unexpected twist for Peter when he is attacked one night by his best friend Harry (James Franco), who blames him for the death of his father at the conclusion of the first film. Enhanced by his father’s Goblin serum, Harry is a deadly adversary for Peter who is able to fend off the attack eventually, and put into motion a series of events that will forever change his life.
When a career criminal named Flint Marko (Thomas Hayden Church), is accidentally caught in an experiment while fleeing the authorities, he becomes a living mass of sand, which enables him to start a string of robberies as “The Sandman”, and provides Spider-man with his most unusual opponent yet.
As if this was not enough, Peter must contend with a new hotshot photographer named Eddie Brock (Topher Grace), who is after a staff position at the Daily Bugle. The fact that Peter has more seniority at the paper is of little interest to Eddie, and he will stop at nothing to get the better of Peter.
At this point one would think that Peter has more than enough on his plate, but fate is about to drop an unexpected player into his life, a space based symbiote that bonds
with Peter’s costume and creates a dark black look for Spider-Man as well as an increase in his powers.
Peter becomes obsessed with his new powers, and there is a dramatic change in his persona, which does not sit well with Mary Jane. When new information is given to Peter about the death of his Uncle Ben, Peter is more than willing to use his new found abilities to exact the revenge that he craves.
Peter also has another area of interest as Gwen Stacy (Bryce Dallas Howard), the daughter of the local Chief of Police has caught his eye, much to the chagrin of both Mary Jane and Gwen’s current boyfriend Eddie Brock.
This tangled web of characters soon forces Peter to take stock of his life and the choices he makes, in order to determine what truly matters to him, the love and respect of his friends, or giving into his darker side and pursing power and unending praise and adulation.
The film starts out well, and the early conflict between Peter and Harry is a brilliantly staged spectacle of sight, sound, and motion. There are also some great moments between the lead characters and Church, Howard and Grace do well with their characters, yet something about Spider-Man 3 did not click for me the way the previous two films in the series have.
Having the luxury of time from the press screener to the opening, I was able to look back at the film the past week and a half to try to determine what did not work for me, and I kept coming back to the same conclusions.
First, the film wants very much to be much darker and edgier than the other films, yet just when you think you are going to see Peter fully cross the line, the film pulls back into campy mode, and we are given scenes of Peter hamming it up as a ladies’ man, and I kid you not, doing an impromptu dance number.
While this works for comedic effect, I am supposed to believe that the darker side of Peter’s soul is being exposed, and I had a hard time thinking that his inner demons include “Saturday Night Fever” style strut down the sidewalk, and a floor show.
The second thing that bothered me was the villains, as aside from Harry as the New Goblin, both the Sandman and Venom were sadly lacking. Neither The Sandman nor Venom had over the top plots to rule the world, kill or enslave the masses, or endanger huge parts of the city as was the case with the original Green Goblin and Dr Octopus.
Rather we have one who is content to steal to fund a noble cause, and wishes only to complete this cause and have Spider-Man out of his way. The second simply wants revenge for being slighted, and does not elude the menace nor danger that the character warrants.
effects wise the film is solid and there are some great moments in the film, but to many times I thought I had seen the same sand effects years early in the “Mummy” series which lead to many cases of “been there, seen that” for me. With a budget that many claim to be the most expensive film ever made when based on current dollar values, I had expected more from the film, especially given the talented and dynamic cast, and the ample backing of the studio.
Director and series Guru Sam Raimi seems to be coasting here as one has to wonder if he used up many of his great ideas in the last two films, and was trying so hard not to repeat himself, that he lost that magic spark that made the last two films such classics.
As it stands, “Spider-Man 3” is a good film, but you can’t help but feel it could have been a better one.
4 Stars out of 5.