Genre: Superhero Running Time: 2 hrs. 19 min.
Release Date: May 4th, 2007 MPAA Rating: PG-13
Director: Sam Raimi Actors: Tobey Maguire, Kirsten Dunst, James Franco, Thomas Haden Church, Topher Grace, Bryce Dallas Howard, Rosemary Harris, J.K. Simmons, James Cromwell, Theresa Russell, Elizabeth Banks
n the final chapter of Sam Raimi’s Spider-Man trilogy, Peter Parker (Tobey Maguire) has finally reached a fulfilling equilibrium between his normal life and his crime-fighting one as he readies a proposal to childhood sweetheart Mary Jane (Kirsten Dunst). But such serenity is not meant to last, as the masked hero is attacked by foes both old and new. Parker’s best friend Harry (James Franco) has again risen to avenge his father; a man made of sand terrorizes New York; and a gooey, symbiotic life-form threatens to destroy the web-slinger entirely. With plenty of fantastical action, a heart-wrenching storyline complete with love and revenge, the funniest Bruce Campbell cameo yet, and a special-effects-laden showdown – the magnitude of which hasn’t been witnessed before – “Spider-Man 3” hits all the hallmarks of the lucrative series.
“Spider-Man 3” is, undeniably, an entertaining film. But Sam Raimi, perhaps pressured by the fan base or studio executives, has tried to cram too much into this third – and presumably last – chapter of this hugely popular property. One of Spider-Man’s best designed and admired comic book villains, Venom, makes his big screen debut, but it feels awfully small. Focusing mainly on New Goblin and the Sandman (Thomas Haden Church), Venom (Topher Grace) is left to relish in only the last half of the film. Plus, his design is greatly lacking from the enormously muscular and grotesque look of the comics; his oversized, teeth-laden mouth and flicking snake-like tongue are drastically toned down – equipped instead with a high-pitched shriek. While Topher Grace’s acting is adequate, his scrawny stature just doesn’t seem to fit with how Venom has been drawn for so many years. And the character development for this role is greatly stunted; by the time Eddie Brock becomes Venom, audiences will feel mostly indifferent about his trivial motives against Spidey.
On the bright side, Sandman is an astonishing villain to behold, with his human side approached with much more care and detailing. Church portrays Flint Marko with a tender demeanor and an honesty that will make viewers believe he’s merely a victim of circumstance. The premise that leads to Marko becoming a powerful manipulator of sand is a bit hokey, but nonetheless relatively accurate to his comic book origins. Spider-Man even goes so far as to comment, “Where do these guys come from?” But the special effects are flat-out jaw-dropping. The realistic particle effects and manipulation of dirt and mud forming into Church’s chiseled visage are simply magnificent. Toward the conclusion, when Sandman becomes a giant monstrosity of earth and cement, his roar of utter awesomeness certainly echoes his appearance.
“Spider-Man 3” does contain the most involved and complex love story of the three, serving as a suitable culmination of all the loose ends and various plotlines continuing from the previous two ventures. The story arc of Harry Osborn and his demented alter ego finally concludes, with Spider-Man still struggling to mend their fragile friendship. A long-awaited marriage is on the horizon, but jealousy and misunderstandings constantly impede the union, while the appearance of Gwen Stacy (the very blonde Bryce Dallas Howard) further complicates a murky love affair.
Raimi divides the suspense in a few key spots with some truly inspired and outrageous dance numbers – a concept that doesn’t sound like it would belong in this picture. Tobey in particular throws around a few riotously funny moves after Venom’s poison takes effect, giving him a cocky self-confidence and the desire to appear a bit “emo.” These bits of humor sharply supplement the tone, while also helping to ease the breakneck pacing of the action. With near perfect special effects, interesting new characters, and an intricate narrative that converges and concludes every open-ended development from its predecessors, “Spider-Man 3” is both a fitting finale and a colossal blockbuster that no Spidey fan should miss. Again shattering the myth that sequels can’t be as good as the original, this closing chapter in the Spider-Man trilogy sends off the flexible superhero with an adventure befitting the expectations his legions of loyal fans demand.
– The Massie Twins
The Spider-Man Franchise