So you're Peter Parker and, though you've had a pretty rough life, you've had a number of really lucky breaks. Now your alter ego, Spider-man, is a beloved hero. You've got the girl, your job is getting slightly better, and you are coming to terms with your past. Yep, things just keep getting sweeter.
Seems now is as good a time as any to pull the rug out from under Peter.
Let's start with an escaped convict, Flint Marko (Thomas Hayden Church: TALES FROM THE CRYPT: DEMON KNIGHT, MR. MURDER, SERIAL KILLING 101). He has a sick little daughter and he killed somebody Peter knows - we'll get back to that later.
Now let's look at a romantic scene between Peter Parker (Tobey Maguire: SPIDER-MAN), and Mary Jane (Kirsten Dunst: INTERVIEW WITH THE VAMPIRE, THE VIRGIN SUICIDES, THE CROW: SALVATION, SPIDER-MAN, KAENA). They are up in one of Peter's webs, thinking about life and watching shooting stars. One meteorite lands a little too close and out plops a black blob who hitches a ride on Peter's scooter. We'll get back to that later.
Yes, everything is going swimmingly for Peter, until he gets jacked right off of his bike by his best friend Harry Osborne (James Franco: SPIDER-MAN, THE WICKERMAN ), who has taken over from his very dead Pop as the new Green Goblin. A visually confusing battle occurs. Seems Spidey STILL can't convince Harry that he did not, in fact, kill his Pop. The first G.G. did that to himself. The fight scene between the new G.G. and Spidey is a blur of bad fighting. Everything is happening so fast, and half of it in the dark, that you don't know who is winning or losing. The fight scene, orchestrated like this, goes on for way too long before it ends in a way that makes you wonder why Spidey didn't do that in the first place.
Meanwhile, back to Marko. In running from the police, he scales the fence of some corporation and winds up in an open pit of sand.
With a huge machine over it.
Even if you couldn't watch where you were going - at night - to miss the pit in the ground, you think you would have noticed the huge freaking machine. Cut to a lab with lots of computers and people wearing white smocks. Though their sensors notice an anomaly in their sand pit, their experiment will continue. Oddly enough they don't have any cameras to watch whatever test they are about to do. Despite the fact that they have said "anomaly" contaminating their test, they brush it off as "probably a bird that will fly away as soon as we start."
Yeah, it could be a bird.
Or grass, garbage, rats, mice, skunks, dog, squirrel, cat, worm, gopher, mole, vole, nematode, slug, snail, insects - pretty much anything. But in this case, its a man contaminating the experiment, rendering it useless. To the most casual observer, this experiment is ridiculous. The researchers only want to test sand, but since this is an open pit, ANYTHING can get into the sand, thus ruining the experiment. I mean, you don't have to be a scienctist to figure this one out. If you just had a cooking class in Home Economics you know that putting the wrong thing in your ingredients is going to louse up the meal. Well, you know that Markos is The Sandman, and this is how it happens to him. Why it happens to him and how it happens to him will likely be believable to the Humans Make Global Warming crowd.
What saves Spider-man movies from other superhero movies with a mind-boggling array of ignorant pseudo-science is the human equation. Co-Writer / Director Sam Raimi (EVIL DEAD [all], SPIDER-MAN [all]), having started out in Horror, understands the "human value" quotient of a movie and knows how to balance scenes of seemingly real emotional turmoil from the standard stupidity of maudlin soap opera drama that we've seen in movies like THE HULK, DAREDEVIL, Catwoman, and ULTRAVIOLET. Raimi knows what crushes our hearts and why our loves and best friends will hurt us - and why we keep loving them when it happens. This human drama is the strongest part of all of the Spider-man movies because the CGI effects will only hold us for so long. As an audience we get bombarded with wicked cool CGI effects in 20 TV commercials every night. Ask any woman who saw the first SPIDER-MAN, and she'll tell you of "That Kiss".
The main problem I had with SPIDER-MAN 3 was the same problem I had with Tim Burton's BATMAN 2: too many main characters and storylines.
With SPIDER-MAN 3 you get a love triangle between Peter, Mary Jane, and Harry: plus you get Harry's dual personalities of nice guy and evil Goblin villain, as Harry is pursued over the same demons in regards to his dead father that Peter is in regards to his dead Uncle.
You also get Mary Jane's own problems with failure in her career, Harry's problems with loneliness, and Marko's problems with his daughter's health. We also get a new guy, Eddie Brock (Topher Grace), who is trying to steal Peter Parker's job away in an Associated Press, CBS News, New York Times, Reuters kinda style. In addition to him being another character, we also get Spiderman having to contend with that black gooey alien, which is a symbiote, which Spiderman first enjoys and then tries to dump. There is also another villain in the mix named Venom which any fan of SPIDER-MAN will know.
So it's a lot to put an audience through in the space of only 2 hours and 20 minutes. And So no one's story really gets told except Peter's and his various transitions to and from SPIDER-MAN in the black suit while the introductions of Sandman and Venom and new Green Goblin, etc. are slapped together.
SPIDER-MAN 3 will no doubt make a lot of money based on audience appreciation for the first two, but it's the least of the three.
Even though 3 is the least (and Tobey Maguire insists it will be his last. HA! Oh yeah, Tobey? How about we double your salary instead? Did I say double? Hell, we'll triple it! NOW do you want to leave the franchise?"), I found myself enjoying most of it even while some parts were unforgivably cringe worthy. If you see it yourself, you'll know why, despite its flaws, I give SPIDER-MAN 3 a good solid Three Shriek Girls.
This review copyright 2007 E.C.McMullen Jr.
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