It’s insanely difficult not to have high expectations for (what looks to be) the final part in this wildly popular Marvel movie franchise featuring the world’s fave loser Peter Parker, a.k.a. Spider-Man.
Which sets the movie up to be a let down. It really proves the theory of “less is more” to be absolutely true. For while this movie has no less than three villains (or four if you count in Peter’s black-suited alter ego), it is the least watchable out of the three. There are just way too many sand-fisted, glider-riding, teeth-baring villains everywhere. Add a strained love affair and a buxomy blonde swooning at Peter’s feet and you get the idea. It’s too much.
The movie opens with a grinning Peter (Tobey Maguire, The Good German), whose mundane life has finally turned hunky dory. He’s got MJ (Kirsten Dunst, Marie Antoinette) for a girlfriend, he’s riding the top of geekdom at school and he’s a freelance photographer. But a black substance attaches itself to him and feeds off his rage—turning him into a creepy crawlie, and he discovers that Sandman, Flint Marko, (Thomas Haden Church, Sideways) is the real murderer of Uncle Ben. Meanwhile, his best friend Harry (James Franco, Tristan + Isolde) morphs into Green Goblin Version Two, while The Venom (Topher Grace, In Good Company) dogs his heels. Not only must he defeat them, make peace with Harry and win MJ back, but he’s got to turn good again.
The director Sam Raimi (The Gift) is one sentimental guy, for he strives to make the audience sympathetic towards the villains. But he succeeds at the expense of the audience’s attention span and, ironically, it is Peter Parker that the audience ends up feeling the least sorry for. Caught up in his jaunty, bad-guy mode, he’s downright annoying. He was way more likeable when he had to face his conflict (Spider-Man) and learn the meaning of sacrifice (Spider-Man 2). Gone is the mantra “With great power comes great responsibility.” It’s now replaced by the moral undertone of the individual having the power to choose what he wants to be.
Fair enough, but the movie degenerates into an overly moralistic mode. It’s the extremely high feel-good factor that has always ensured that Spidey swings high, but that is low in this sequel. Instead, the movie is contrived and drags in many bits. Only sporadic humor and the special effects save it from the movie bonfire. The excellent-but-disastrously-underrated James Franco also put in a convincing performance.
All in all, Spider-Man 3 completely fails to end this movie franchise on a high note—much less an engaging one.
You will dig Spider-Man 3 if you dig: Sequels and want to see how directors, in milking something for all it’s worth, lose the essence of the real thing. Think Terminator 3, Blade 3, Die Hard 3, Final Destination 3.