Movie Review: Spider-Man 3 – Starring Tobey Maguire, Kirsten Dunst & James Franco

Watch Spider-Man 3 via Amazon Instant VideoMovie: Spider-Man 3 (PG-13)
Released: May 4th, 2007
Runtime: 2 hr. 18 min.
Ticket Price: $5.00 Early Matinee + $1.25 Fandango surcharge
Refreshments: Swedish Fish
Starring: Tobey Maguire, Kirsten Dunst, James Franco, Topher Grace and Thomas Haden Church
Director: Sam Raimi

Rating: Worth a Full Price Ticket –

Synopsis: When a black entity from out of this world comes in contact with Peter Parker, he has to deal with its aggressive properties. Feelings of revenge and other temptations put obstacles in the way of his love life, while there are new villains to contend with. He must deal with his inner demons to once again become the hero that the city needs.

Review: Spider-Man 3 is a rollicking good time, even if a bit disjointed and more on the dour side than the first two. Sequels are always tricky. How do you give the people something new without changing what it is they like about the first one. Most consider the second one to be the better of the two previous. So, could this one meet the expectations that would be heaped upon it?

Expectations have been riding high ever since a third installment of the Spider-Man franchise was announced. How could they not be after the first two gave the moviegoer everything you could possibly ask for from a comic-book movie? Raising them even more has been all the commercials and the trailers playing before just about every movie for weeks now. If you have Comcast, then you have probably seen the commercial for the trailer that you could watch on demand. Ya gotta love a commercial for what amounts to another commercial. All this leads to a sense of anticipation of great things to come.

The Spider-Man movies have been huge because they didn’t eschew character development and plot. Spider-Man was great because they took their time and gave you the back story of Peter Parker, played by Tobey Maguire (Spider-Man 1&2, Seabiscuit), and how he becomes Spider-Man and what it meant for those around him, they just didn’t give you a synopsis and then get to the web-slinging and fighting the bad guy. Spider-Man 2 took those themes and characters and advanced them. It wasn’t just a great comic-book movie. It was a great movie. Spider-Man 3 tries to pull from the first two and wrap a few storylines up.

In general, it does a good job of this. It finally puts friend against former friend, as Harry Osborn, played by James Franco (Spider-Man 1&2, Annapolis), becomes the New Goblin and wants to take revenge on Spider-Man because he thinks he killed his father. This story arc has been building over the course of each movie. The story also goes back to the death of Peter’s uncle and introduces a new villain, Flint Marko, played by Thomas Haden Church (Sideways, TV’s Wings), who becomes the Sandman. He was actually the person responsible for shooting Uncle Ben. This gives Peter a foe he may well take revenge on, as well.

Revenge is a popular theme in Spider-Man 3. Eddie Brock, played by Topher Grace (Good Company, TV’s That ‘70s Show), wants to get Peter Parker because he feels he has humiliated him and stolen his girl. Granted Eddie did go all James Frey in a photographic way and Peter just pointed it out. But, when Eddie learns that Peter is Spider-Man and gets the other worldly substance on him, he becomes Venom, the evil alter ego of Spider-Man.

Spider-Man 3 is all about the battle between revenge and forgiveness. Can you learn forgiveness? For yourself, for others or will you let revenge consume and destroy you? This is what all the main characters are dealing with. It has elements of a morality play where the lesson is, be forgiving. It made me think of War Games, where the lesson was about nuclear war and that “the only winning move is not to play.” The ending here hits you in much the same way as that does, over the head.

The main problem is how these themes pull together to make the whole. The ideas are good. The acting is good. The roadmap seems to be heading in the right direction. It just doesn’t have the smoothness between dramatic moments and action sequence as I recall from the first two. As stated above, it seems disjointed.

Though the movie is on the dour side, it does have plenty of light comedic moments you have come to expect. These include Peter Parker, under the influence of the black suit, getting his John Travolta on in a few scenes and the scene after Spider-Man first encounters the Sandman is very funny.

Even with all that in mind, it is still worth a full price ticket and a viewing on the big screen. This is not the type of movie to see for the first time on your smaller home theater system. If you loved the first two, you might be a tad disappointed with this one, but go see it anyway. If you are disappointed, just remember to find a little forgiveness, as all three are better than most comic-book tales that get the Hollywood treatment in recent years.

What did you think of Spider-Man 3?

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Jason of New Movie Friday
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