Spidey seems a little tired after five years serving your neighborhood movie theater. Although the third installment of the ultra-popular Spider-Man franchise offers a solid amount of fast-paced action and dazzling visuals, the film fails to reach the level of its two 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.
Compounding matters, Spider-Man 3 includes a whole bunch of other subplots resulting in a movie that feels a good 20 minutes too long. But don’t get me wrong: In spite of its not inconsiderable flaws, Spider-Man 3 is still a solid superhero flick.
For instance, Spider-Man 3 hits all the right notes when further developing Peter Parker’s psyche. In the previous two films, we witnessed Parker learn valuable lessons about responsibility and sacrifice, but this time he faces a particularly difficult dilemma: Revenge or forgiveness.
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. Also, 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 considerably less spectacular than what we saw 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 is 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.”
© Franck Tabouring
Spider-Man 3 (2007). Director: Sam Raimi. Screenplay: Alvin Sargent, Sam Raimi, and Ivan Raimi, from Stan Lee and Steve Ditko’s comic-book character. Cast: Tobey Maguire, Kirsten Dunst, James Franco, Thomas Haden Church, Topher Grace, Bryce Dallas Howard.