For once everything in Peter Parker’s life is perfect. Crime is almost nonexistent, Mary Jane is starring in a new musical which is set to open on Broadway, and Spider-Man is finally receiving his due. Bad reviews, genetically engineered Sandmen, a vengeful former best friend, a rival Daily Bugle photographer, a beautiful starry eyed classmate and a black alien symbiote monster are just some of the opposition introduced in the third film. If this sounds like over-load, that’s because it is. The story-lines presented in Spider-Man 3 could easily have been made into two films. The resulting movie suffers from the suffocation of too much plot, and too many characters.
The problem with Spider-Man 3 is that I (like many others) found an abundance of faults and problems, most of which can be easily dismissed. But to write about the film, means to point out many of the film’s problems. So my positive feelings about the film may become obscured behind some of my criticism. But trust me, the film is good – better than the first movie. Spider-Man 3 is the Return of The Jedi of this comic book trilogy. Spider-Man 2 is the best comic book movie of all time. And like Empire, it’s very hard to follow-up on such greatness.
And Spider-Man 3 sometimes comes closer to cliche, than the smile-enducing corny that was done so well in the second film. Some of the effects, especially in the crane sequence, seem unfinished. Some of the originalÂ Danny Elfman themes were used, and when Christopher Young’s original score comes into play you can tell. His jazz/beat-music like themes feel out of place. And the Kirsten Dunst singing sequences were unneeded and over-excessive.
I think that most people may be disappointed by the lack of Venom in the film, especially considering that he is the core of most of the film’s marketing campaign. I also felt that Topher Grace had too much of a presence in those sequences, when they should have just given the fans the character that they paid to see.
And one must also acknowledge the many convenient coincidences spread throughout the unimpressive screenplay. The meteor containing the black symbiote goo crashes to earth right next to Peter Parker’s moped. Harry Osbourne has a lapse of memory at the most convenient moment. A gimmick of the nature is usually reserved for the lowest of the low entertainment mediums – soap operas. And with Soaps, it is understandable – they have to create so many hours of entertainment each week that some of the plot inherently suffers. But a two and a half hour movie like Spider-Man 3 has no excuse for such bad plotting.
The Sandman’s particle effects provides some of the most interesting visuals in the film. The Green Goblin/Peter Parker skyscraper fight (the one seen in the extended preview) happens early on (probably too early on) but provides more excitement than any action sequence in recent years. It is everything that the final Matrix battle between Agent Smith and Neo promised (but failed) to be. A montage of darker/more-aggressive Peter serves as a companion piece to the wonderful No responsibility montage from the second film.
Fans of the series will enjoy a few inside nods to the fanboy crowd, including an quick hint of Peter Parker’s “relationship” with J. Jonah Jameson’s secretary Betty Brant, a pair of cameos from Bruce Campbell and Stan Lee, and Venom’s auditory weakness (which I feel plays much better in the comic series than in the film adaptation).
But deep down Spider-Man 3 is really the third act in the Peter Parker/Harry Osbourne story. Sure, the other villains help mirror Parker’s internal struggle, but it is Osbourne’s storyline which comes to a dramatic climax. Spider-Man 3 is the perfect bookend to the main through-line that makes up this comic-book trilogy. And while Spider-Man 2 is a film about responsibility (to be or not to be Spider-Man, and Uncle Ben’s death), the third film is about forgiveness and acceptance.
/Film Rating: 8 out of 10