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May 2007


By Julian Roman


Distributor: Columbia Pictures
Director: Sam Raimi
Screenwriter: Alvin Sargent

Cinematographer: Bill Pope
Composer: Christopher Young
Cast: Tobey Maguire, Kirsten Dunst, James Franco, Rosemary Harris, J.K. Simmons, Thomas Haden Church, Topher Grace, Bryce Dallas Howard, Daniel Gillies, Ted Raimi, Adrian Lester, Theresa Russell, James Cromwell



Spider-Man 3 is best described as a Mexican soap opera with mind-blowing special effects. It’s all melodrama as the characters talk about their feelings and share in a good cry. Peter Parker (Tobey Maguire) cries seven times throughout the film. If he’s not kicking bad guy ass, then he’s probably shedding a few tears. I’m being a bit sarcastic, but the third installment does really ramp up the emotional aspects of the story. This will be the crux of the negative reviews or responses. I thought it was a bit overblown, but added much more to the film than it took away. The filmmakers took the film seriously and decided to match the physical punches with emotional ones.

The plot picks up with Peter Parker and Mary Jane (Kirsten Dunst) madly in love. They’re a happy couple and New York City is crazy for Spider-man. Crime is at an all time low, the city is much safer, and Peter basks in the glory. But while the spotlight shines brightly on him, Mary Jane’s Broadway career falters. Harry Osborne (James Franco) has lost his memory after a vengeful attack on Peter. At first this is a positive development, but it isn’t long before Mary Jane and Harry begin to reconnect. Peter, blissfully unaware of what’s happening, is brought down to earth by a shattering revelation. An escaped convict, Flint Marko (Thomas Hayden Church), has admitted to be the real killer of his beloved Uncle Ben. Marko’s flight from the cops lands him at a particle test facility, where’s he accidentally transformed into the shape-shifting Sandman.

Peter’s anger toward the Sandman and his feelings for Mary Jane spark a tremendous inner rage. He becomes the target of a gooey black parasite that spouted from a crashed meteor. The parasite overtakes Peter, releases his ferocity, and the black Spider-man is unleashed on the city. The change attracts the suspicion of Eddie Brock (Topher Grace), a rival reporter hell bent on taking Peter’s job at the Daily Bugle. Peter revels in his newfound power, swears to kill his enemies, and becomes the deadliest threat of all.

To say there’s a lot going on in this film is the cinematic understatement of the year. There are numerous themes involving many different characters. It’s a lot to digest, but not nearly as overwhelming as critics have made it out to be. I agree it’s all kind of hobbled together, but it’s a damn good effort. The focus here was not to let the film’s amazing fight scenes detract from the development of the characters. I’ll take too much character development any day over a bloated spectacle, which was the case with the absolutely terrible X3.

Tobey Maguire gets no respect for being a great Peter Parker. Spiderman can be a stuntman or CGI, but Peter is the real hero behind the suit. I love the fact that he’s a complex character. He struggles with fame, friendship, and love; but submits to his anger when overcome. Why wouldn’t he want to take revenge? Why shouldn’t he? This is the moral decision that Peter Parker makes, the choice between being a symbol for good, or using his amazing abilities to satisfy his personal need for vengeance. It’s heady stuff, maybe too dramatic for some people, but adds weight to what could be a pretty sappy story.

Spider-man 3 is undoubtedly the most serious film of the trilogy. But it also has the most action. There’s no entertainment value being lost. It lays the drama on thick, but more than makes up for it with stupefyingly awesome fight scenes. I thought it was very entertaining, not a great film, but a good way to kickstart the summer.