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Action & Adventure movie directed by Sam Raimi

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Too Many Eggs in One Basket

  • Aug 14, 2009
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Spider-Man... the films more or less made Comic Book movies more popular.  At least for the new era.  It sort of changed the way we look at hero films and what they can do.  Spider Man 2 was far better than the first by showing the struggles of Peter Parker being Spider Man.  While films like Batman Begins and The Dark Knight put Spider-Man to shame in the character development arena, it was still refreshing to see a Super Hero movie that went a little beyond some of the campiness we saw before.  There are still moments where the series seems a little more like a comic book than anything else... but you know, it is a comic book film.  The third one, however?  Well, we have to wonder just what was going on in the mind of the cast.  Spider Man 3 has visual flair and dynamics, but it seems to set itself far away from what the first and second film established.

I'm not too big on whether or not the adaptation gets it right.  Spider Man 3 has far far bigger things that are annoying than whether or not it is true to the source material.  It's not all Sam Raimi's fault.  Part of it comes from Marvel studios not giving him nearly as much control as he wanted.  Case in point, Raimi doesn't like Venom and never wanted that arc of the story in the first place.  In fact he simply wanted the Sandman.  The stuidos urged him to put in Venom because Venom has a big fanbase.  And Raimi's hatred of Venom really comes through as the movie presses onward.  Spider-Man 3 also carries on an ongoing trend in Superhero movies... that each sequel needs to have more villains.  Unfortunately the Spider Man 3 goes a little overboard in the "How many Villains should we have," department.  And we'll get to that too.  But perhaps the biggest problem with Spider-Man 3 is that it takes one of the defining moments of Spider Man and just about crushes it.  That being the murder of his Uncle Ben.

We'll get to all this.  But let's start at the beginning first.  Spider Man always has uniquely fun opening credits.  And what we see is a montage that sort of reminds us what happened, along with Danny Elfman's fine score.  And as a result, the film pretty much takes off right where the second film left off.  Mary Jane knows who Parker is now, and unfortunately dealing with Peter Parker being Spider Man is hard.  Because... you know... being a crappy actor in a play doesn't compare to nearly getting killed.  Here's how a standard argument between Mary Jane and Peter Parker just about goes

MJ: They called a crappy actor in this review!  I'm having such a bad day!
Peter: Oh, yeah?  Well I was almost killed... twice.  My best friend hates me because he has daddy issues--caused by me--and my boss at the Bugle wants me to take pictures of myself.  They're not nude photos, but damn it sucks being Spider-Man (at the same time it's awesome).  I get beat up and bruised all damn day and you're worried about being criticized for your acting!?  No, not in Spider-Man's house... er... apartment.  FACE!"

Okay, that exchange doesn't happen, but it sort of comes off like that.  Everything in their relationship seems to be about what it's like to be Spider-Man.  In short, the two just don't relate that much.  And for Mary Jane in particular, it's hitting hard.  I mean, can you really complain about your problems to Spider Man?  

That's not to say they don't spend time together.  They do.  And when the two get together to look at the stars a small meteorite falls beside them and something comes out of it and attaches itself to Parker's bike as they ride off.  This is the symbiote. 

There's more to the story than this.  A man has escaped from jail in an attempt to give his daughter a better life.  And in the process he gets involved in some weird experiment that makes him the Sandman.  This makes stealing money for his daughter even easier.  An nearly invincible.  The movie tries to make you feel really bad for him, but it's not as if he gets much development in the first place.  After all, the movie just doesn't have time to do that.  He's not much of a sympathetic character when you see him smashing police cars and whatnot.  Thomas Hayden Church does a really good job playing the guy, but the character just doesn't seem that believable because we can't learn much about him in the first place.

THEN there's Harry, who wants to desperately avenge his father.  In an ambush with Peter that gives you the idea someone was playing with a bunch of action figures, Harry flies head first into a dumpster... and doesn't suffer from anything other than short term memory loss.  How convenient!  That doesn't last for too long. 

Finally, there's Eddie Brock who is taking a freelance job at the Bugle and is coming to steal Peter's thunder.  He's played by Topher Grace.  Yeah, the guy who played Eric on "That 70's Show".  But it works out okay. 

And along those lines there's the symbiote taking over Peter's emotions and aggression.  It makes him stronger and a bit of a jerk.  And unforgiving guy who is pathetically emo:

"   The creepy "You are such a poser" moments don't end there:


If these things are supposed to make Parker seem darker... they don't.  Actually he looks like a dork.  Part of him is kind of a jerk (part where he hits Mary Jane--although in the theater the audience was laughing at this part) but for the most part, these "dark sides" of Peter are funnier than they are actually showing a different side.  This is especially true as "Dark" Spider Man battles Sandman and utters a cheesy line that supposed to make us think he's a jerk, but really it comes off as Tobey Maguire "trying" to be jerk rather than actually doing it. 

Yet, as I mentioned earlier one of the biggest insults is how they try to tie the Sandman into all this.  It turns out that the guy they caught who killed Uncle Ben wasn't the right guy.  Instead the guy they really want is Flint Marco who just happens to be *GASP* The Sandman... which is what leads Parker to overreact in the confrontation anyway.  Yet what strikes me as odd is that we don't exactly learn how the police made the mistake or how they actually know it was really Flint.  Instead it comes out of left field to give Parker motivation to fight the Sandman.  But worse than that... Uncle Ben's death and Parker chasing after the killer only to find it was the same guy he let go... was the defining moment.  It was essentially why Parker decided to be a hero in the first place.  Changing it in this way sort of takes away the impact of that moment.  Especially because the third movie works it in while completely ignoring that the first movie did establish this.  Even on the DVD commentary of that film. 

But worse than Uncle Ben's death being changed up, there's also the issue of Venom who finally shows up within the last half hour or so of the film.  The symbiote takes a large role with the whole "darkside of Peter" thing, but Venom himself doesn't exactly appear in the movie that long (not to mention he and the Sandman kidnap Mary Jane--without knowing who she is!).  Parker has worse problems, with Harry regaining his memory and wanting to give it to Parker as well.  Eventually the two settle their difference after Harry's Butler--who apparently is immune to being traumatized and has little desire to say anything to anyone--mentions that Harry's father uh... wasn't killed by Parker.  That's actually true and all but... Harry's butler?  It also comes in at the last moment.

And when juggling all these things you still get the feeling the film is too long.  But the real problem is that it isn't long enough.  It's so jumbled and all over the place because it throws so much in.  So much so that it doesn't have time to really focus on its characters or anything.  Part of it is because Raimi never wanted to put Venom in, but another problem is that Venom feels the wrath of Raimi's hatred by having a pretty brutal death.  Perhaps Venom shouldn't have been in the film.  He would've been better reserved having his own film.  But more than that, Sandman gets one of the most anti-climactic moments in the film.  We have a lot of stuff that happens only because there's so much, but the theme of Peter having a darkside and what's right for a hero to do takes center stage.  Introducing the Symbiote worked... it was working Venom, Sandman and Harry Osborne's revenge that was a mess.  The three stories just don't mold together very well.  They make an overly long movie that doesn't bother to cover all of its tracks. 

Originally after walking out of the theater I decided I had to calm down.  Perhaps I was just comparing it to a far superior film (Spider Man 2).  But it's been two years now and each time I see it those problems just seem to jump out more and more.  

In the end it was probably creative differences that really got in the way of the third film.  Raimi didn't get everything he wanted and neither did the studio.  There's just too much that they try to stuff into the movie, for a franchise that just can't contain it all in one film.  Certainly Spider Man 3 made money, and they're planning a fourth one to come out soon... but the question now becomes: "Isn't the damage already done?"  I guess we'll find out when Spider Man 4 arrives.  Nevertheless, Spider-Man 3 isn't a strong film and they have little to do with whether or not it matches the source material.  It has a lot more to do with the structure of the movie itself.

What did you think of this review?

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August 15, 2009
OMG! You totally destroyed this movie but I have to say, I agree wholeheartedly. There were too many villains in this flick that I think the Harry and Venom angle should have been left out. Not developing a villain is a major sin. I guess Raimi got it right with the first two, Spidey 2 remains one of my most beloved comic book films but this may be one of the worst. excellent review, couldn't have said it better. LOL!
More Spider-Man 3 reviews
Quick Tip by . September 07, 2010
posted in Movie Hype
This movie is such a step backward from the first sequel. Too many characters and too much forced devices make this movie an unfocused farce. Sam Raimi deserves to be fired after this melee, how can you allow the Hobgoblin look like a snowboarder....Gwen Stacy's intoduction was unnecessary and the Butler did it! (yeh, he decides to say something after Harry's face gets all messed up. This is such bad storytelling and Raimi at his worst. and Hollywood is already remaking this fallen …
Quick Tip by . August 30, 2010
A movie that gets so much bad press it's unbeliveable when it's NOT a bad movie. Yeah Venom could have been left out and NOT played by Topher Grace but aside from that, it's not bad.
Quick Tip by . July 17, 2010
posted in Movie Hype
Daughter loved this movie she watches it over and over again and I always see something that is new to me!
Quick Tip by . August 10, 2010
I tried to watch this movie again last weekend and I actually got angry and turned it off. How could they take something as cool as Spiderman and make it so lame? And even though it wasn't a critical plot point, why was J. Jonah Jameson's desk hooked up to some ridiculous over-exaggerated buzzer? There was too much cheeze I couldn't make it to the great action scenes.
review by . November 09, 2009
A failure for the series, but good fun none the less..
While Spider-Man  and Spider-man 2 set the bar higher for excellence in  comic book adaptions, Spider-Man 3 the latest installment in the hugely popular  series is a massive step down from those two. It has far too many plot lines and too many villains and that just makes it a crowed  mess. While it does  boast some  really dazzling action sequences and  some cool fights  in the film, it still can't be saved or salvaged from  the  over use of everything   …
review by . September 09, 2009
Being an enormous fan of Spiderman and greatly enjoying the first two films, I looked forward in anticipation to this film. I was greatly disappointed. There was just too much going on in this film. Where Doc Ock and the Green Goblin were fascinating villains with powerful performances in the other films, the Sandman was a very dry character and Venom was comical like Danny Devito's Penguin in the Batman movie. Additionally, Peter Parker's romance with Mary Jane was all over the place and never …
review by . May 15, 2009
The third and final installment (allegedly) of the Spiderman movies is all set to tie up all those little loose ends - Peter Parker is finally secure in his role of Spiderman and seeks Mary Jane Watson's hand in marriage ... but, happy endings are only for fairy tales, right? In this installment we are introduced to two newcomers: 1st we meet Flint Marko (Thomas Haden Church) who, after escaping from prison stumbles into a particle accelerator and is transformed in to the mighty Sandman. The 2nd …
review by . November 01, 2008
(To the tune of Staying Alive)     Well, you can tell by the way the records broke   That the whole world loves that Spidey bloke   Movie three and it's still hot   It's taken over the number one spot   And it's all right - It's okay   though not the best by a long way   Kind of hard to understand   Why so many villains had been planned     Whether you're a spider or riding on a glider   try …
review by . May 29, 2007
posted in Movie Hype
To start off this review, I'd like to give a brief plot synopsis: Peter Parker's got the girl, got the old friend back, got the fame (as Spidey), and got no problems. Then, petty criminal Flint Marko (who's got no money but does have a really sick daughter) gets some sandy powers and uses them to his advantage. Then, Peter gets some galactic goo on his Spidey suit and gets more power (think HGH for superheroes). It all goes to Peter's head and then he loses the girl, loses the old friend (but gains …
review by . May 14, 2007
posted in Movie Hype
Being an enormous fan of Spiderman and greatly enjoying the first two films, I looked forward in anticipation to this film. I was greatly disappointed. There was just too much going on in this film. Where Doc Ock and the Green Goblin were fascinating villains with powerful performances in the other films, the Sandman was a very dry character and Venom was comical like Danny Devito's Penguin in the Batman movie. Additionally, Peter Parker's romance with Mary Jane was all over the place and never …
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Sean A. Rhodes ()
Ranked #7
I'm a more analytical person. I believe that the purpose of the review is not for me to give you my opinion but for me to give you an analysis and help you decide if you want to get it. If you reading … more
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Spider-Man 3 is a 2007 superhero film written and directed by Sam Raimi, with a screenplay by Ivan Raimi and Alvin Sargent. It is the third film in the Spider-Man film franchise based on the fictional Marvel Comics character Spider-Man. The film stars Tobey Maguire, Kirsten Dunst, James Franco, Thomas Haden Church, Topher Grace, and Bryce Dallas Howard.

The film begins with Peter Parker basking in his success as Spider-Man, while Mary Jane Watson continues her Broadway career. Harry Osborn still seeks vengeance for his father's death, and an escaped convict, Flint Marko, falls into a particle accelerator and is transformed into a shape-shifting sand manipulator. An extraterrestrial symbiote crashes to Earth and bonds with Peter, influencing his behavior for the worse. When Parker abandons the symbiote, it finds refuge in Eddie Brock, Jr., a rival photographer, causing Peter to face his greatest challenge.

Spider-Man 3 was commercially released in multiple countries on May 1, 2007, and released in the United States in both conventional and IMAX theaters on May 4, 2007, by Columbia Pictures. Although the film received generally mixed reviews from critics, in contrast to the previous two films' highly positive reviews, it stands as the most successful film in the series worldwide, Marvel's most successful film, as well as the second highest-grossing superhero film behind 2008's The Dark Knight.

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