‘Spider-Man 3’ movie review: superhero sequel more good than bad

Charged entertainment that perfectly and authentically replicates its comic-book origins, Sam Raimi´s Spider-Man 3 proves a worthy installment to the successful series, albeit less successful as a standalone film than its predecessors.

The first film presented an effective origin story, though it was plagued by technical problems; the second was nearly perfect; Spidey 3 falls somewhere in-between – exceptional on a technical level, with an overstuffed script that proves a nearly insurmountable obstacle but nevertheless entertains on a truly grand scale.

Tobey Maguire returns as the titular hero and his alter ego, Peter Parker, now dating childhood friend Mary Jane Watson (Kirstin Dunst) and about to propose to her.

But a multitude of problems get in the way: Spider-Man has become widely accepted as a hero in New York, even given the key to the city, causing Peter´s ego to go to his head and resulting in relationship problems with Mary Jane; Harry Osbourne (James Franco) still wants revenge for his father´s death, becoming a new Green Goblin – but will a bout of amnesia solve things? Is Harry still Peter´s friend?

Escaped convict Flint Marko (Thomas Haden Church) – who may have actually been responsible for the death of Uncle Ben – has his molecules bonded with sand, becoming the Sandman and terrorizing the city. And an alien symbiote crash lands in a park and follows Peter home, becoming a new, black Spider-suit (dark in more ways than one), causing further complications in his attitude and personality.

Oh yeah, and hotshot reporter Eddie Brock (Topher Grace) vows revenge against Peter after being exposed as a fraud, and just happens to be in the church where Spidey un-bonds with the alien suit. And then there´s the usual crew: Aunt May, J. Jonah Jameson, Robbie Robertson, Curt Connors, a new addition (Gwen Stacey), and a ridiculous French waiter played by a delicious Bruce Campbell, all given ample screen time. The only wasted talent: James Cromwell as Captain Stacey (though he´ll be back), and Theresa Russell as Marko´s wife.

It´s all straight out of soap opera, full of coincidences, improbabilities, convenient (amnesia?) and obscure (alien symbiote?) plot devices, and unnecessary complications that could be solved if the characters would just talk to each other (though they only do when the plot dictates) – but I wouldn´t have it any other way.

All of it remains true to the comic-book origins, and it´s a testament to director Raimi that we´re able to somehow swallow most of it. The film is stuffed to the brim, however, and many of the plot threads feel rushed; a far cry from the masterful Spider-Man 2, a tighter film where much more care was put into the story.

But all the little things are done right here: we´re given time to spend with all the regular characters and a few new ones, most of whom we look forward to seeing in future installments; the CGI is excellent (albeit excessive), the set design masterful, the music (Christopher Young has replaced Danny Elfman) improved – the movie feels perfect, and looks better than any superhero movie that has come before it.

But money (a reported $270 million in this case) can buy everything except a good screenplay, and that´s exactly what´s happened here; each scene may look and play perfectly, but they fail to build to a cohesive whole. Still highly entertaining.


Jason Pirodsky

Jason Pirodsky

Jason Pirodsky has been writing about the Prague film scene and reviewing films in print and online media since 2005. A member of the Online Film Critics Society, you can also catch his musings on life in Prague at expats.cz and tips on mindfulness sourced from ancient principles at MaArtial.com.

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