Wednesday, July 5, 2017

Movie Review: "Spider-Man 3" (2007)

Director: Sam Raimi
Year: 2007
Rating: PG-13
Running Time: 2 hours, 19 minutes

Spider-Man struggles to balance his relationship with Mary Jane with his crime-fighting lifestyle. Meanwhile, a trio of new villains emerges, each with a different connection to Peter Parker. 

How the mighty have fallen.

"Spider-Man 3" is the third and final installment in Sam Raimi's "Spider-Man" series, though a trilogy may not have been the original intention. Returning for this sequel is Tobey Maguire as Spider-Man/Peter Parker, Kirsten Dunst as Mary Jane Watson, James Franco as Harry Osborn, Rosemary Harris as Aunt May, and J.K. Simmons as J. Jonah Jameson. New to the series is Thomas Haden Church as Flint Marko, who in a convenient plot twist, is actually the man who shot Uncle Ben. After escaping from prison, Marko gets into an accident, which turns him into the Sandman, who is not only made entirely of sand but can also control sand as well. Also new to the cast is Topher Grace, who plays Eddie Brock. As comic book fans know, Brock becomes what should have been the fan favorite villain Venom, if the studio and filmmakers hadn't screwed it up so badly. In this film, Peter Parker struggles to balance his normal life, including his blossoming relationship with Mary Jane, with his job of stopping crime. Peter also has to deal with his best friend Harry blaming Spider-Man for his father's death. Harry goes crazier day by day, and Peter has old demons dragged out from the past as he learns the man who killed his uncle actually wasn't the one to blame. Oh yeah, he has also been bonded to a parasitic alien that makes him stronger but also turns him emo. You know how that sort of thing goes, right??

After two strong showings from this series, we have now reached its stumbling point. After setting such a high bar with "Spider-Man 2," we honestly didn't expect "Spider-Man 3" to clear it. However, this film didn't just miss the bar, but the bar itself was knocked off its stand and then proceeded to hit everyone in the balls on the way down. Most of the problems stem from director Sam Raimi's conflict with the studio and their insistence on adding Venom as a villain. In turn, this gives us the travesty of them casting Topher Grace as Eddie Brock. This is not to knock Topher Grace's acting abilities, he just wasn't right for the role. And speaking of villains, the addition of so many of them caused the story to completely lack focus. There are three total in this flick, the two aforementioned baddies, and the new Green Goblin, aka James Franco's Harry Osborn. It's as if the studio recognized that Otto Octavius was so successful as a villain, they thought, "well, one really good villain was a smash hit, so let's triple down on the bad guys!" As we know, too much of a good thing is bound to muck it all up, and as such, the film feels like a disjointed mess simply moving from plot point to plot point to conveniently incorporate all three villains for no other reason except that they could. 

There has always been comedy in the "Spider-Man" series. The character himself has always been good for a quick-witted quip, but the script lays on the goofiness way too thick at times in this sequel. Not much good came from Peter Parker's path down emo-lane other than a couple solid and entertaining internet memes that will last for a generation.
BUT WHY?????????????
We have two other big complaints about "Spider-Man 3." How did those behind the scenes manage to take such a relatable superhero and the love of his life, who had excellent chemistry up until this point, and turn them into stiff, awkward wastes of space? It's as if they knew their jobs were on the line, so they hammed it up for the cameras, only to have their performances come across as shoehorned in for dramatic effect. And, how did the award-winning CGI from "Spider-Man 2" wind up looking way worse in "Spider-Man 3"? It always baffles us how this happens in major motion pictures, especially considering the budget didn't get cut.

That being said, there are some good things about this third installment. There are several action sequences that are exciting and excellent. This movie also explores themes of dealing with the past and learning to forgive those who have done you wrong. The Sandman is an interesting and sympathetic character that lends to this theme, as is Harry Osborn, who struggles to come to terms with his father's death.

"Spider-Man 3" might still be the worst movie in this trilogy, but it's not entirely a waste of space. There are many narrative problems because it tries to have so many villains in one movie, and the biggest sore thumb is Venom, who just bogs down the entire thing. Still, we can't help but wonder what a fourth Sam Raimi "Spider-Man" movie would have looked like, and it's obvious as the credits roll here that his story wasn't done being told.

My Rating: 5.5/10
BigJ's Rating: 5.5/10
IMDB's Rating: 6.2/10
Rotten Tomatoes Rating: 63%
Do we recommend this movie: Meh.

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