Movie Review
Spider-Man 3
Spider-Man 3 poster
By Scott Sycamore     Published May 5, 2007
US Release: May 4, 2007

Directed by: Sam Raimi
Starring: Tobey Maguire , Kirsten Dunst , James Franco , Topher Grace

PG-13 sequences of intense action violence
Running Time: 139 minutes
Domestic Box Office: $336,530,303
There's a lack of coherence and conviction on display, and its soul seems to have dripped out little by little.
There's no question about it: this is a flawed-as-hell movie. When something gets this over-stuffed and over-budgeted, it almost can't help but suffer from the mass-appeal Hollywood stench. There's a definite lack of coherence and conviction on display, and its soul seems to have dripped out little by little; kind of like the black goop from outer space that creates Symbiote Spiderman as well as Venom, both of whom are featured very un-prominently in the course of the story. The tone is outrageously cheesy and melancholic, both of which I hate; but I'm still dishing out a halfway-decent grade because I didn't really get bored and there's some fun special effects that they spent a lot of money on.

It's funny that the angle of so many of these mass blockbusters seems to be a weepy, melodramatic one. It's obvious that the public only wants action and distraction, but big movies keep trying to bash us in the gullet with cloying emotional manipulation of the most obvious variety. Why does everything have to be so safe and saccharine? Spider-Man 2 didn't really feel this way. Do even 40-year-old comic-book stories need emo makeovers at this point?

The dialogue, the jokes, and acting are outrageously bad, but we have to forgive it because, y'know, it's a kids' movie after all. They try to clear the air and keep things slightly moving until the next giant action scene. But, they never seem to throw in quite enough excitement to truly satisfy. Even with the gargantuan dollar amount spent on a film like this, they have to pack all the money into twenty minutes - what's up with that? Why not have forty-five minutes straight of cartoonish violence? It won't hurt the box office receipts, so why not try it?

What really makes this flick disappointing is that it is so much worse than part two. Instead of one strong villain, we get three weak ones. Instead of narrative thrust, we get episodic choppiness that never gels. Instead of clear character motivation, we get random back-story fragments which only serve to heighten the level of dissonance between viewer expectations and what's on the screen. This film just seems so much more timid than the last one.

The musical score is pretty good, though; better than the last film, in fact. No more Danny Elfman, please! There's an effective musical piece that accompanies Sandman's discovery of his power, which actually stirs up some real emotion for a few seconds. Too bad the character himself is so underdeveloped and underutilized. The special effects supervisor is also not the same as for part two. This is clear given that the FX have somewhat of a different look; a dark urban vibe rather than colorful zippiness. I thought there was a new quality to the battle between Goblin, Jr. and non-suited Peter Parker as they zoom frantically through neon-lit skyscraper corridors, but this action nugget - as so many others do - suffers from overly rapid editing and extreme close-ups. The set pieces aren't enough of a leap from the second movie, and they are stuck in a dreadful zone of mediocrity for at least half the time.

It just doesn't make sense, really; why is this movie so much worse than the last one? Why are actors like James Cromwell, J.K. Simmons, and Thomas Haden Church so completely wasted in their roles? How did they think that multiple story threads would better serve the film than a simple, solid arc about the principal players? It just doesn't add up. Maybe it's an inevitable side effect of having part three's release date being set before part two even came out in theaters. That's a huge load to shoulder, and there's a lot of pressure behind it. Yes, Raimi, we get that it's tough to be responsible for a multibillion-dollar franchise. But if you're going to commit, use your directorial fire, and stop catering to the wishes of film-illiterate troglodytes everywhere.
Scott's Grade: C+
Scott's Overall Grading: 417 graded movies
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'Spider-Man 3' Articles
  • Lee's review C
    May 5, 2007    Spider-Man 3 is a mess ? bad directing, cheap stunts, and a laughable story make this one a joke. -- Lee Tistaert