Third movies in a
sagas are notoriously hard to pull off and as it is released,
Spider-Man 3 is getting slammed by critics in a way
that the first two movies never experienced. Some of this is not quite
deserved. While Spider-Man 3 definitely is not on a level of
the first two acts, it basically is a pretty good (if definitely flawed)
It starts off pretty well,
though. Spider-Man 3 has fun with the cult of personality,
making the web-slinger suddenly a media darling and a New York hero.
He is finally openly dating the girl that he loves (Kirsten Dunst), and she
has her first role in a Broadway musical. A timely case of amnesia
even has his best friend (James Franco) back in his life after years of
Of course, when things
are going well in a superhero movie you know that it's just the calm before
the storm. Quickly Spidey and his Peter Parker alter-ego are bombarded
MJ loses her role and
becomes jealous of Peter's model friend (Bryce Newton Howard). A young
hotshot photographer (Topher Grace) is gunning for Peter's job. And,
in the most unlikely plot twist in a movie sadly stuffed with them, some
kind of slimy outer space creature hitches a ride on Parker's scooter and
then turns him into the black Spider-Man, which is sort of the id Spidey,
stronger but more dangerously unpredictable. This makes him ruled by
his baser instincts of greed, pride and revenge, not the good that drove him
Also, not one, but three
super-villains have their sights on Spider-Man – the Sandman, Venom – an
even more evil black Spider-Man look-alike and the return of the son of the
The character of the
Sandman (Thomas Haden Church of Wings and Sideways) particularly makes little sense. He is given a tragic back
story about an estranged wife and a sickly daughter. There are
periodic scenes where he swears he is not a bad guy, just a victim of
circumstance. Okay, that's fine as far as it goes. However, he
keeps doing bad things – putting people in grave danger, stealing and
targeting Spider-Man – all the while that he proclaims his innocence.
Obviously if your molecular
structure has been altered to give you the consistency of sand you will be a
complicated character – however his explanations and his actions are
directly contradictory. Methinks the Sandman doth protest too much.
All in all, Spider-Man 3
is enjoyable but it just has too much on its plate. With three
villains (four if you count the
space slime which creates
evil Spider-Man), two women in his life (three if you count his extremely
flirtatious relationship with J. Jonah Jameson's secretary, played by
Elizabeth Banks of Invincible) and two
Spider-Men (good=red, bad=black) – Peter Parker's life is
just overstuffed with plot. Add to this him coming to terms with fame,
a threat to his photographic career and reliving the deaths of his beloved uncle and
his mentor-turned-enemy and neither Spider-Man nor the audience get the
chance to take a breath.
Spider-Man 3 is a
good movie, but it could have been great had they just streamlined it a bit.
Some of this stuff could have probably been held back for the inevitable
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Posted: May 13, 2007.