Spider-Man 3 (2007)

Spider-Man 3 (2007) – Sigh… I said I was going to revisit the Sam Raimi Spider-Man films… and unfortunately that means watching this one again. I can’t believe I even own it (it came with my Playstation 3). Completist that I am however I just had to hold onto it and watch it during my Spider-Man marathon. Now I feel all weird. Why was there so much singing and dancing? It’s an action movie! When they announced the Broadway musical Spider-Man: Turn Off the Dark I said out loud (to no one in particular) “but they already had a Spider-Man musical, it was called Spider-Man 3.” I kid, of course, but what the hell is up with this movie. It maintains the successful tone of the first two films but just misses the mark so wildly in other respects that it hurts my head just trying to fathom what all went wrong. I know that Sam Raimi had to contend with massive studio interference (hence the inclusion of Venom in an otherwise crowded movie) but still… what the fuck? This is a cluttered movie, like they just threw in whatever just because they could. There’s a certain value to the “just throw everything at the screen and see what sticks” formula (just ask Robert Rodriguez… holy shit, Robert Rodriguez should direct a superhero movie!) but the first two Spider-Man films were well-constructed and this aberration throws off the legacy of Raimi’s trilogy.

Peter Parker (Tobey Maguire) is happy and in a relationship with the love of his life Mary Jane Watson (Kirsten Dunst), whose career as a Broadway actress is taking off. However, Harry Osborn (James Franco) now knows that Peter is Spider-Man and still blames him for the death of his father Norman (Willem Dafoe). Harry also stumbled on to his pops Green Goblin stuff and is carrying on his father’s less-than-heroic legacy. Then he hits his head and gets amnesia and that storyline goes away for a while. Seriously. Anyway, on another track, police captain George Stacy (James Cromwell) calls Peter and his Aunt May (Rosemary Harris) down to the station to tell them that the criminal (Michael Papajohn) they previously believed to have killed peter’s Uncle Ben (Cliff Robertson) didn’t and that it was actually a crook named Flint Marko (Thomas Haden Church). Seriously. Vengeance might prove itself tricky though, as Marko has been transformed (by science!) into the Sandman, a sentient bunch of sand, and is using his power and seeming invulnerability to steal money to help his cancer-ridden little daughter. Seriously. Also an alien symbiote has fallen to Earth on a meteor and is leeching onto Peter, amplifying his worst tendencies. PLUS there’s another photographer named Eddie Brock (Topher Grace) who’s gunning for Peter’s job at the Daily Bugle. ALSO there’s a hot girl named Gwen Stacy (Bryce Dallas Howard) who may have a thing for Peter, which makes Mary Jane jealous. IN ADDITION there is also marriages proposals, Bruce Campbell playing French, emo hair, a Stan Lee cameo, and singing and dancing for no discernible reason.

Needless to say the movie is a clusterfuck. There are good things about it. The Daily Bugle staff (J.K. Simmons as J. Jonah Jameson, Bill Nunn as Joseph “Robbie” Robertson, Elizabeth Banks as Betty Brant, and Ted Raimi as Hoffman) continue to be very funny in their few scenes. James Franco sticks out from this movie as giving a performance that really does not belong, but the weird thing is it’s like he’s giving an awesome performance from SOME DIFFERENT MOVIE ALTOGETHER. I got to admit, I kind of love Franco in this even though he is so fucking out of place. Tobey Maguire uses the symbiote storyline to indulge all his worst instincts as Peter. In the first two movie I reasonably liked Maguire, but had some issues with his performance. All those problems are intensified for emo symbiote Peter. Also, dancing… what the hell? Certain characters from the comics are altered radically for bizarre reasons. Topher Grace, like Franco but not as good, seems to be playing a role out of another movie. He’s not the Eddie Brock I read about and watched in cartoons growing up. Gwen Stacey, a great character from the comics, is wasted as part of a love… um, quadrilateral storyline. Her father, also a good character, is even more superfluous to this stupid movie. Spider-Man 2 made Dr. Octopus, the unlikable dick from the comics, into a sympathetic villain and this movie tries to do the same with the Sandman. It doesn’t work. Plus the revisionism that HE killed Uncle Ben is ridiculous. The movie tries to recast him as a tragic monster like the ones from the classic Universal Monster movies, but it doesn’t work well save for a few scenes (like the amazing one where he learns to use his, uh, sand powers). The potential of this movie makes all the stuff it does wrong all the more glaring and obnoxious. There was going to be a Sam Raimi-directed Spider-Man 4 with John Malkovich as the Vulture and Anne Hathaway as the Black Cat (she has since upgraded to a better feline-themed comic book anti-heroine). All things being equal I think it’s better that was cancelled and the series is rebooting. Maybe it’s too quick to reboot, but I think this movie rather firmly proves that the Raimi series had gone irreparably off the rails.

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