What can I say about Spider-Man 3? It's good. It's a comic book movie. I don't understand the vitriol aimed toward this movie from other critics unless, of course, the relentless marketing and hype leading up to the movie has caused anyone to believe this would be more than it is: another movie about Spider-Man. It certainly has its flaws — most notably there's a thoroughly bizarre sequence featuring the new "evil" Spider-Man, but more on that later. Overall, it's cool in the computer effects sort of way, but it's not a masterpiece. It's just fun and flashy and will more than satisfy Spider-Man fans.
The biggest flaw on which I must agree with all the other critics is that there is way too much stuff packed into this one story. There are several superheroes, each with his own set of issues to figure out, Peter Parker's struggle with his own ego and then his obsession with revenge, and the whole Peter-Mary Jane saga, which is weirdly drawn-out in a movie that has little to no room to spare. There's a lot more to it than this, though, so
The old sweet Peter Parker (Tobey Maguire) has become something of an egomaniac, loving his fame a little too much, while nothing is coming up Mary Jane (Kirsten Dunst) as her stage musical career stalls. To make matters worse, there's another woman in the picture now, Gwen Stacy (Bryce Dallas Howard), a classmate of Peter's who seems to have a crush on both him and Spider-Man. Flint Marko (Thomas Haden Church), the guy who killed Peter's Uncle Ben is on the loose, a sad, misunderstood man who needs money to help his sick daughter and in a really neat scene he turns into the Sandman.
Gwen's boyfriend Eddie Brock (Topher Grace) is Peter's competition as a freelance photographer at the newspaper. After Peter humiliates him in front of their boss, Eddie becomes vengeful and then becomes Venom. Meanwhile, Harry/Goblin (James Franco) is haunted by his angry Green Goblin dad's ghost who instructs him to avenge him by killing Spider-Man. So, there are a lot of superhumans to keep Spidey busy, and of course, Mary Jane is the pawn used to lure him around.
Adding to all this, Peter gets taken over by the evil, parasitic black stuff which forms his black Spidey suit and causes Peter to become powerful and cruel. However — and here's the weirdest part — Peter acting "evil" consists mostly of ogling women while dancing down the street to disco music and saying things like, "I think you're going to really dig this joint, baby." What? He awkwardly tries to dance around at the jazz club where Mary Jane is singing, followed up by a little sexy dance with Gwen. I guess if Peter's supposed to become dashing and aggressive because of the black suit, that's fine, but aside from being virtually graceless the whole thing is strange because Tobey Maguire looks utterly uncomfortable. There are a lot of campy things in these films, and I can't deny that this part is entertaining — it's just so weird.
Strange homage to the '70s as a reflection of "evil Spidey" aside, the coolest parts of the movie are, unsurprisingly, the visual effects and the action sequences. The Sandman is particularly awe-inspiring to see on the big screen and the final scenes with all four superheroes are definitely cool. The movie is what it is: The "real plot" parts are mostly dull, and the computer animation is impressive. Expect a lot more and you will be disappointed. But as a Spider-Man movie, it more than does its job.
Photos courtesy of Sony Pictures