Peter Parker will always be a nerd.
It doesnt matter if he dresses snappier, wears his hair down, or gets an attitude adjustment, thanks to a living symbiote attached to him amplifying his aggressive behaviour, the boy will always be a nerd at heart. And this is what the main focus is in Spider-Man 3
the matters of the heart. But does director Sam Raimi succeed in delivering the goods on the subject matter?
Peter Parker is on top of the world. His love life is spectacular as he finally has Mary Jane Watson, the girl of his dreams. He is still a top student earning great grades in Dr. Connors class. And his arachnid alter ego is now the toast of the city. People embrace and love him. He has his hearts desire. To add icing to the cake, he has decided to propose marriage to the love of his life. So whats wrong with this picture? Its too good to be true. In typical Parker fashion, all of this will come crumbling down around him, first in bits and pieces, and then all at once.
His best friend, Harry Osborn, knows his secret as Spider-Man. His hearts desire: he has vowed vengeance on the man who has killed his father. Finding his fathers weaponry, he attacks Peter with such ferocity as the New Goblin. Watching these former friends battle is loaded with high-octane emotion.
Mary Jane Watson must be hanging around Peter too long as his bad luck his rubbing off. Her career as a Broadway star has coming to a screeching halt after less than favourably reviews on a recent performance leads her to be unceremoniously dumped from her the play. Her hearts desire: she wants to be a star and not a part of a supporting cast. Ironically, in this movie, this is exactly what she becomes.
Flint Marko, a common criminal, escapes from jail, only to run away from the law. In his attempted escape, he finds himself accidentally trapped in an experiment that has changed his molecular structure to that of sand. But this transformation doesnt change his crooked ways. Why? His hearts desire: he needs money in order to help save his ailing daughter.
Eddie Brock, Jr. is looking for respect. His hearts desire: to become the new top photographer at The Daily Bugle. But that comes crashing down around him when Peter exposes him as a complete fraud. Brock is humiliated from the experience and wants revenge on Parker.
hes the fans heart desire. Sam Raimi never wanted to include this character as, out of all the Spider-Man villains, he lacks humanity. Quite frankly, as popular as Venom is with the fans (and he does rank up there with the top baddies), he is a one-dimensional character. There are no layers to him. The Green Goblin is conniving and ruthless. To him, its all about obtaining power. Doctor Octopus is a scientific genius. To him, its all about obtaining and utilizing knowledge. With Venom, he only exists for one purpose, and one purpose alone: to kill Spider-Man. If that purpose is finally extinguished for him, then what else is there for Venom? Conquest of the universe? He doesnt seem like that type at all.
But seeing Venom on the big screen, as little as he appeared, was a treat. I wanted to see how he would be rendered, and for the most part, I thought it was a good appearance. Unfortunately, he really needed more screen time. And his most famous trademarked long tongue was missing from his repertoire of creepiness. Even my wife commented on this missing factor.
The acting was good and showed some emotional depth, but this is a case where there were too many cooks in the kitchen. Tobey Maguire, Kirsten Dunst and James Franco reprise their roles as Peter Parker, Mary Jane Watson and Harry Osborn. Maguire and Dunst do their jobs well, but its Franco who really shines in this movie. He is an incredible actor showing a true range of a happy-go-lucky guy to one bent on loathing and revenge, all in a blink of an eye. Its funny to think that he actually auditioned for Peter Parkers role at one point.
I wish a better fate were given towards Rosemary Harris (May Parker), J.K. Simmons (J. Jonah Jameson), and even newcomers Bryce Dallas Howard (Gwen Stacy) and James Cromwell (Captain George Stacy). They deserved to do more than what was shown instead on having throwaway parts. Its a shame, too, because that is one talented group.
Thomas Hayden Church as the Sandman didnt have an impact for me, emotionally or otherwise. If you want to talk about a throwaway character, he is a contender. But he definitely looks and feels right for the part. He did convince me as Sandman, and I know Raimi definitely tried to humanize him by making him a redeemable character, but was he even needed. I guess when he becomes tied to the murder of Ben Parker, this is where Peters emotional state of mind comes into play. And it becomes a huge factor in Peters fall into the dark side.
Speaking of dark side, I was wondering how Venom was going to be introduced in this movie that made sense. After all, in the comic book, the origin of the black symbiote and how Spidey got his black costume is so complicated that a whole movie dedicated to that story would have to be done in Lord of the Rings fashion (and I kid thee not).
Topher Grace as Eddie Brock didnt seem to click for me. I understand why he was chosen. Raimi wanted to show him as a contemporary to Peter Parker, someone who has almost the same lifestyle as he. The catch is how Brock will bend and break the rules in achieving his goals.
A lot of the build-up explaining how the suit affected Peter was necessary, but the explanation about the symbiote in the first place wasnt even discussed. The nature of why it existed was never addressed. No one, not even Peter, questioned where it came from. And it was actually quite comical to see Peter transform into someone aggressive and less timid. His inhibitions were stripped away; he became Bad Clark as the symbiote was his red Kryptonite (those who watch Smallville will understand that). The comical part: despite his changed behaviour, no matter how he tried to present himself as being cool, Peter looked more like an annoying fool.
The story is definitely one of the more complicated plots I have seen in a long time. It really feels like a comic book story. I enjoyed the drama and I enjoyed the fight scenes, but the pacing was all off for me. I couldnt put my finger on it for a long time until I realized the truth. Reading a comic book story and watching a comic book movie are two different monsters. A comic book story is told month to month, sometimes spawning over multiple issues. Keep in mind that comic book time doesnt follow real world time. A story that unfolds over the course of a few months, maybe even more, really only takes place in a span of a day or two (comic book time). During this course of time, readers become more familiar with the characters, sometimes anticipating for more. But its that monthly regiment that sustains the interest. In a movie, all of that has to be compressed in a matter of two hours. Its hard interweaving the complexities of character development in a limited timeframe. This is why the villains never seem to work as well. Peter, Mary Jane and Harrys story has been developing since the first movie. Time was taken in telling it in the course of three movies. This is why their story is the most significant. This is why Peter and Harrys problems have the most impact than anything else that goes on. In reality, it was all about what happens between these two friends. Everything else was superfluous.
When I first heard that there were going to be three villains in this movie, I hoped Raimi would treat their stories separately. And for the most part, he succeeded in that endeavour. But then he had to do the obligatory supervillain team-up, ala Batman Forvever. It really was unnecessary. Just the nature of the team-up felt forced upon.
But the real star of the film, besides the cantankerous J. Jonah Jameson (he always steals the scenes hes in) and the quick cameo by Stan Lee (Nuff Said), belongs to Bruce Campbell. I swear, the man just kills me every time he makes an appearance in the Spider-Man series. I look forward to his appearance the most, and he does not disappoint at all in this film as a French maître d'. Classic, classic stuff.
Spider-Man 3 was an ambitious undertaking and I know why it was done in this fashion. The complex plot and storyline was created to tie up some loose ends in case these principal actors dont come back for a fourth movie. Trying to create successful sequels is very hard. They always try to top the previous movie and usually fail. Spider-Man 2 was a rare exception to the formula, and I was hoping Spider-Man 3 would do the same. Instead, there were times I felt it jumped the shark and there were times I felt it redeemed itself. In the end, the movie was rushed. The smartest thing to do was split it into two movies, with the birth of Venom serving as the cliffhanger ensuring that there would definitely be a fourth movie.
But thats just my nerdish suggestion.
Other Comic Book Movies
Batman (1943) || Batman: The Movie (1966) || Batman (1989) || Batman Returns || Batman Forever || Batman & Robin || Batman Begins || Batman: Mask of the Phantasm || Batman & Mr. Freeze: SubZero || The Batman Superman Movie || Batman Beyond: Return of the Joker || Catwoman || Constantine || Superman: The Movie || Superman II || Superman II: The Donner Cut || Superman III || Superman IV: The Quest for Peace || Superman Returns || Superman: Brainiac Attacks
Daredevil || Fantastic Four (2005) || The Invincible Iron Man (2007) || The Punisher (2004) || Spider-Man || Spider-Man 2 || Ultimate Avengers: The Movie || Ultimate Avengers 2: Rise of the Panther || X-Men || X2: X-Men United || X-Men: The Last Stand
Independent Comic Books
Popeye || Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles || Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles II: The Secret of the Ooze
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Film Completeness: Looked complete to me.
Worst Part of this Film: Pacing