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SPIDER-MAN 3 (2007) (PG-13)

Sony Pictures

Official Site

Director: Sam Raimi

Producers: Avi Arad, Laura Ziskin

Written by: Sam Raimi, Ivan Raimi, Alvin Sargent

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.

—Woodrow Bogucki

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