Cast: Tobey Maguire, Kirsten Dunst, James
Franco, Topher Grace, Thomas Haden Church, Bruce Campbell
The days are getting longer the weather is hotter and what’s
this? A new Spider-Man movie? Yes indeed, a sure sign of summer.
Director Sam Raimi and the creative team from the
first two movies have stuck together for the best Spider-Man movie
so far. This dark and ambitious sequel pits Spider-Man against not
one, not two, but three different villains while Peter’s success
as a superhero drives away the love of his life Mary-Jane (Dunst).
What makes the series so appealing is that Peter Parker (Maguire)
is just such an everyman, who, with a bite from a radioactive spider,
became your friendly neighborhood Spider-Man. At some point everyone
has run into relationship troubles when they put in too many hours
at work or school and lost track of the important people in their
lives, and Peter, despite an impressive catalogue of spider powers,
is instantly rendered powerless by the subtle nuances of human interaction.
Unlike the events in Spider-Man 2, which might as well
have been titled The World Takes a Dump on Peter Parker,
much of the drama here is more compelling because it is largely
the fault of Peter’s own swollen ego.
Spider-Man 3 starts out as brilliantly colored as the
first two, but as Peter Parker falls victim to his own hubris, the
color scheme shifts to being much darker as befits the theme of
the movie. This movie has a lot of fights—in fact the first
one is in less than 10 minutes from the start of the film. These
fights take place in a variety of different locations and all look
pretty good, which is to be expected of a movie with such an incredible
budget. The very first fight suffered from an excess of jump cuts,
making for a little confusion, but after that the action comes in
crystal clear. Best of all, when the fighting slows down the movie
doesn’t, providing laughs and just a touch of pathos to keep
the entire thing from being too silly, but only just a little.
All of the villains have a much more personal conflict with Spider-Man
than Norman Osbourne and Doctor Octopus, who were both just mad
scientists. In fact all of the villains and Peter Parker are just
two sides of the same coin. Peter and Harry Osbourne (Franco)
are both driven to avenge the death of their father figure. Peter
and Flint Marko (Church) suffer from the incredible
guilt of not being there for their family when it matters the most.
Eddie Brock (Grace) is simply Peter Parker minus
the stabilizing influence of Aunt May or Uncle Ben. The comic book
Eddie Brock was another jock as a foil to Peter’s geek, but
casting Topher Grace in the role sidesteps that tired convention
and helps grant more life to his underwritten character.
With so many villains to fight and personal epiphanies to resolve
it would have been easy for the movie to be one tangled mess, but
clever writing and decent acting tie all the pieces together. The
scenes of exposition never slow the story down, and whenever talk
of revenge and guilt threatens to weigh the movie down, a scene
or two of levity pulls it right back, especially when dorky Peter
tries to act like a bad boy. It runs a little long, but doesn’t
have anything objectionable for most children and grown-ups should
not mind the running time of such an enjoyable picture. Start summer
early and see Spider-Man 3 as soon as you can. Of course
no Spider-Man movie would be complete without a cameo from frequent
Raimi collaborator Bruce Campbell. Let’s
see if you can spot him this time.
Take a pal and pay full price for both tickets.
Itís worth a full-price ticket.
Itís worth a matinee ticket.
Wait for video rental.
Check out the video from the library, if you must.
While we would never encourage anyone to destroy a video...