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Spider-Man 3 (Movie 2007): Franchise Fatigue

Spider-Man 3 Tobey MaguireSpider-Man 3 with Tobey Maguire. The third installment in the Spider-Man franchise collected nearly $900 million worldwide. Its reported budget lay somewhere between $270 and $350 million; one assumes not including marketing/distribution costs.
  • Spider-Man 3 (movie 2007) review: In spite of its undeniable qualities, this third Sam Raimi-Tobey Maguire superhero collaboration shows signs of franchise fatigue.

Spider-Man 3 (movie 2007) review: Latest Sam Raimi and Tobey Maguire collaboration has too many antagonists and too little character and plot development

Ramon Novarro biography Beyond Paradise

Spidey seems a little tired after five years serving your neighborhood movie theater. Even though Spider-Man 3 offers a solid amount of fast-paced action and dazzling visuals, this latest installment in the ultra-popular franchise fails to reach the level of its predecessors.

The chief problem is the overstuffed script by Alvin Sargent and the brothers Ivan and Sam Raimi (the latter also directed), which sets our hero against no less than three villains at the same time: Old rival Harry Osborn (James Franco); the Sandman (Thomas Haden Church); and Venom (Topher Grace), Spider-Man’s scariest opponent so far.

With so many evil forces requiring their own background stories and action sequences, there is simply not enough time for the development of interpersonal relationships. In fact, the essential components of a successful Spider-Man movie – e.g., the conflict between Peter Parker (Tobey Maguire) and Harry Osborn, and Parker’s relationship with Mary Jane Watson (Kirsten Dunst) – feel hasty and dispassionate in this sequel.

That’s a clear indication that the screenwriters struggled to fit way too many elements into the plot.

Revenge or forgiveness?

Compounding matters, Spider-Man 3 includes a whole bunch of other subplots, which result in a movie that feels a good 20 minutes too long.

But don’t get me wrong. In spite of its not inconsiderable flaws, this third entry is still a solid superhero flick.

For instance, Spider-Man 3 hits all the right notes in the scenes focusing on the further developments of Peter Parker’s psyche. In the previous two films, we witnessed Parker learn valuable lessons about responsibility and sacrifice; this time he faces a notably difficult dilemma: Revenge or forgiveness?

Outstanding Tobey Maguire

As a plus, Tobey Maguire is in great shape, delivering an outstanding performance as the shy photographer-turned-superhero, while director Sam Raimi brings his usual grandiose approach to the proceedings.

Besides, Raimi successfully maintains the sense of humor of the two preceding films, though the effectiveness of the action sequences are a tad below expectations. The final battle, in particular, is noticeably less spectacular than the one seen in Spider-Man 2. Even so, the visual effects are just about perfect, and the Sandman and Venom sequences look especially sharp.

Now, considering all the good things Spider-Man 3 has to offer, it’s unfortunate that the filmmakers failed to come up with a first-rate conclusion to their popular franchise. Unless, of course, they’re already planning Spider-Man 4.

Spider-Man 3 (movie 2007) cast & crew

Director: Sam Raimi.

Screenplay: Alvin Sargent, Sam Raimi, and Ivan Raimi.
From a screen story by Sam and Ivan Raimi, based on Stan Lee & Steve Ditko’s comic book characters.

Cast: Tobey Maguire. Kirsten Dunst. James Franco. Thomas Haden Church. Topher Grace. Bryce Dallas Howard. Rosemary Harris. J.K. Simmons. James Cromwell. Theresa Russell. Dylan Baker. Bill Nunn. Bruce Campbell. Elizabeth Banks. Willem Dafoe. Cliff Robertson. Joe Manganiello. Lucy Gordon.

Spider-Man 3 (Movie 2007): Franchise Fatigue” review text © Franck Tabouring; excerpt, image captions, bullet point introduction, and notes © Alt Film Guide.

Spider-Man 3 (Movie 2007): Franchise Fatigue” notes

Tobey Maguire Spider-Man 3 movie image: Columbia Pictures | Sony Pictures.

Spider-Man 3 (Movie 2007): Franchise Fatigue” last updated in April 2023.

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