Duplicity in the big city: Spider Man 3 is either half good or half bad, depending on how you look at it.
Last weekend, I finally finally saw Spider Man 3. The film marks trilogy status for New York's favorite wall crawler. I really liked the first Spider Man and thought the second film was one of the best ever of its genre. When it came to thrilling super hero action, character development, human feeling, splashy direction and sly humor Spider Man 2 was tough to beat. In fact, it was so good that I really wasn't in a rush to see a third movie. I just thought Spidey 2 couldn't be topped. And now that I've seen Spider Man 3, I can honestly say it can't be.
Spider Man 3 picks up where the second film left off. Peter Parker / Spider Man is on top of the world. His girlfriend Mary Jane is starring on Broadway, he's acing his courses in school and New York loves Spider Man. Naturally, this build up is to prepare for the great fall. And fall he does. Three different baddies want Spider blood, a love triangle forms with Harry Osbourn, MJ and Petey plus Venom invades Parker's system to pull him towards his darker nature.
I won't go too much further into plot detail in case anyone other than me hasn't seen it. Spider Man 3 isn't bad, there's a lot to be happy about. All of the actors in the series returns including Tobey Maguire as Peter Parker / Spider Man. Maguire captures the innocent gawkiness of Peter Parker well. Kirsten Dunst also returns as Mary Jane and remains believeable as the actress / model of Parker's dreams. New characters like Bryce Dallas Howard as Gwen Stacy and Topher Grace (That 70's Show) as Eddie Brock add to the Spidey universe. Even characters that were dead in the first movie return for new scenes this go around. Sam Raimi's direction is still packed with quick movement and comic book dynamics. With all these great things going for it, what could go wrong?
Well, the plot for one thing has huge holes that no amount of webbing could fill. The villians this time out (the vengeful Hobgoblin, tragic Sandman and venomous Venom) are impressive in terms of special effects but don't make much impact. With three bad guys, the story becomes overloaded to the point that the villians only make a sketchy impression and a ton of only-in-the-movies coincidences to string them all together. Even Peter Parker's fall to the dark side via Venom doesn't fully register because there's barely enough room for that either. A story this size really needs to be a mini series to make it all work, one movie can't hold this much stuff!
After sitting through it, the only things I took away were: 1. Venom in CGI is way cool and 2. Topher Grace is pretty good in that smirky know it all kind of way. Spider Man 3 isn't the worst movie you can see, it just isn't the best either. With the series running out of creative juice, I hope Spider Man 4 isn't a total bomb because we still haven't seen The Lizard or that old man of the sky, The Vulture. If they can't make it work a fourth time, maybe Sam Raimi's spider sense will tingle and he'll stop the series. Or maybe he'll quit and be replaced by a cheaper director for one last cash in. All I can say is...Excelsior!