Canister X Movie Review #71: Spider-Man 3 (2007)
Written by Sam Raimi, Ivan Raimi and Alvin Sargent
Directed by Sam Raimi
Runtime 139 min.
4 out of 5
It’s triple trouble for Spider-Man in this third installment in the mega franchise.
Life is good for Peter Parker (Tobey Maguire). He’s got the girl, about to propose, making bucks, the good people of New York love their Friendly Neighborhood Spider-Man like it’s their job—yeah, everything is smooth sailing.
Suddenly, a mysterious new villain shows up out of nowhere: the New Goblin (though he doesn’t refer to himself as such in the film). Quickly, we find out it’s Harry Osborne (James Franco), Peter’s once-best friend out for revenge because he thinks Peter murdered his dad.
One villain Peter can handle, especially since his first altercation with the suped-up Harry Osborne ends rather quickly. But no, things quickly get worse for our favorite wallcrawler when fugitive Flint Marko (Thomas Haden Church) gets himself trapped in a molecular blaster thingy and becomes the shape-shifting Sandman. Also adding to Peter’s troubles is ultra-hungry photographer Eddie Brock (Topher Grace), who wants nothing more than to make a name for himself in the newspaper business.
Unbeknownst to Peter, while he and Mary Jane Watson (Kirsten Dunst) are on a date in a NY park, a mysterious meteor lands from the heavens, leaking a strange black goop that follows Peter home and eventually latches onto him, transforming him into someone darker, meaner and more spider-powered than ever before. When Peter finally realizes his new black suit is slowly destroying his life and he’s alienating everyone he’s ever cared about, he manages to ditch the suit in a cool church bell tower scene that screams Peter’s search for redemption, but also Eddie Brock’s search for revenge. The black goop lands on Brock, carrying a copy of Peter’s spider-powers with it, transforming Eddie into the menacing Venom.
It’s Black Spider-Man versus three villains in this web-slinging rollercoaster ride that scratches Spider-Man fans right where they itch!
The spider effects keep getting better with each installment, especially in the area of you feeling like you’re right there with Spider-Man zipping through the air. That scene where Gwen Stacy (Bryce Dallas Howard) falls off that building and Spidey has to cut through the air in between falling debris to save her? Pure good.
The story had some good twists, especially building up the suspense while we waited for the black symbiote to latch itself onto Peter. Same with Peter proposing to MJ. The whole “it not working out” thing was well done.
James Franco played the villain wonderfully. I genuinely hated him after a while, the big tip of the hat being to when he fooled Peter into thinking he was his buddy again only to screw him over big time later on.
Topher Grace was easily the best actor in the film. He was funny, cocky, yet at times you sincerely felt bad for him.
The fight scenes were great. The symbiote effects for the living suit were fantastic, too.
The ending with Harry Osborne—even after all he did during the film—made tears prick the corners of my eyes.
One would think a major lesson had been learned from Batman & Robin: too many characters is just plain stupid. Unfortunately, Spider-Man 3 didn’t take that warning to heart. The film had way too much going on. I know they had to wrap up some story threads as established in the first two movies, but when all was said and done, things just felt way too rushed and I know I’m not the only fan to think so. If it were me, I would have left it at two villains: the New Goblin and Sandman. Or just do Venom and leave it alone. (And if anyone knows the Venom story, from the comics or the 1990s Spider-Man cartoon, you know that Venom’s mythology is more than enough for a feature film.) I really felt short-changed regarding Venom. So much time was spent building up to him—the origin, Peter going dark, Eddie Brock’s character, both before and after he inherits the suit—that by the time Venom showed up, there wasn’t much time left in the movie for him to really be the bad guy fans know him to be.
There’s really not much to complain about with this movie other than it feeling very rushed and cluttered. Over all, it still was a solid flick, but my least favorite of the three.
Rumor has it that Spider-Man 4 is getting back to basics so I’m eagerly anticipating that one.
Also stars: J.K. Simmons, Bruce Campbell, Rosemary Harris, James Cromwell, Ted Raimi, Bill Nunn, Willem Dafoe, Dylan Baker, Stan Lee and others.