Movie Review: SPIDER-MAN 3Columbia Pictures
2007
PG-13

“It’s Brock sir, Edward Brock Jr. I’m here humbled and humiliated to ask you for one thing…I want you to kill Peter Parker.”

Things are looking up for our favorite web-head. College is going great, he seems to have the respect of most of the city (save for certain newspaper EIC’s), and he’s about to ask Mary Jane’s hand in marriage. Yep, things are certainly looking up for Spidey. That is, until a space-faring oil spill crash lands on earth and hitches a ride on Pete back to his pad, giving him the makeover from hell. And a brash young photographer begins gunning for Pete’s job. And a petty thief suddenly becomes much, much more grittier. *sigh* Looks like it’s back to the normal status quo for the ol’ webhead…

I’m starting to become a serious believer in the “sophomore sequel slump”. This is a bit of a take on the famed “sophomore slump” curse that is attached to a second release that doesn’t measure up to the expectations set by the first release (you see that a lot in album releases). That doesn’t necessarily mean that the product is bad; it’s an unfortunate side-effect of the way the business is ran. When it comes to movie sequels, especially those rare occasions where the first sequel is just as good if not better than the original, the second sequel has the potential to disappoint. Most movies based on comic books, I’ve noticed, have this affliction. This probably has something to do with trying to top the success a third time. Just check out the movies based on Superman, Batman, and the X-Men, paying particularly close attention to Batman Forever.

Sadly, I must admit that, with Spider-Man 3, the slump has happened. And as a longtime fan of Spider-Man, it pains me to say it. It really does.

That’s not to say that the premise of this third instalment didn’t have the potential to break that slump. It had some very top-notch writing, once again making the characters as three-dimensional and who you care about. The action sequences trumped the ones in the first two combined, really pulling out the stops (that first one between Peter Parker and Harry Osborne was this geek-boy’s fanboy joygasm). Not once did I not believe that these were living, breathing embodiments of the comic book counterparts. Thomas Haden Church was spot-on as the Sandman. Topher Grace, while I had my doubts, was perfect as the anti-Peter of the flick (I’ve never really liked the concept of a muscle-bound Eddie Brock anyway). And Bryce Dallas Howard, while being a bit wasted as a character, nailed the Gwen Stacy part. More villains, more action, and more play time…

…and that’s what I feel was working towards its detriment. See, it was bit longish. That’s the least of my complaints. What bogged the movie down was the needlessly extensive relationship angst between Parker and Mary Jane. Both seemed way out of character, especially when Peter suddenly morphed into what I call “Emo Parker”. Mary Jane seemed to be in constant self-centered harpy mode throughout the entire running time. And Venom…well, I know I’m going to hack off a lot of fans, but I really think that they could have kept that villain out entirely, and it would have made the movie better. Although he looked cool, and the fight scenes between him and Spidey were excellent, you can tell that the decision to include the symbiont baddie was made by studio execs, and not by Sam Raimi. Unlike the Sandman, who has a back story that makes him a tragic character we can sympathize with, Venom gets none of that. Then again, in the comics Venom was a bit of a one-trick pony to begin with. I’m not even going to go into the lameness that was Harry Osborne’s kinda-Green Goblin 2 persona. A flying snowboard? Ray-Bans? Was that supposed to inspire fear and trembling as a villain? Yeesh…

Once again, it pains me to say this, but Spider-Man 3, while it had its many good points, was just another example of over-exuberance, resulting in a bloated, overdone movie. And I know I’ve been kind of late with the review. It was this movie that made me take a hiatus from doing reviews, let alone watch movies again. I was that underwhelmed, folks. Wait for the DVD if you must watch it…

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