The ZONE genre worldwide books movies
the science fiction
fantasy horror &
mystery website
 
 
home  articles  profiles  interviews  essays  books  movies  competitions  guidelines  issues  links  archives  contributors  email

Spider-Man 3 (2007)
Director: Sam Raimi

review by Eric Turowski
Spoiler Alert!
If this weren't a film about everyone's favourite web-slinger, I'd have dropped the rating down to a one- or zero-star film. After all the promise of Spider-Man 2, with a fully menacing baddie, Doc Ock, the old comics plot of Peter Parker (Toby 'I'm-30-and-look-it' Maguire) attempting to dump his duel identity, and the much-played-up endearing inability to maintain romantic relationships, keep up on his rent or his studies, which totally blew the first film out of the water, you would think Spider-Man 3 would be the best Spidey film yet. Alas, the series has become a victim of its own excesses, as so many sequel films will.

I would rehash the complex plot that involves two baddies, the Sandman (Thomas Hayden Church), and Venom (Topher Grace), and a half (Harry Osborn (James Franco) as the New, Green, or Hobgoblin or whatever, all of which rely on the forced connection between antagonist and protagonist. (Except Venom, which is a bunch of goo that crawled off a meteor and became a black spider costume. No, really.)

Harry and his dad Norman have always been Spider-Man's most deadly foes. Melodramatically, the Green Goblin is the one who knows Peter Parker's alternate identity, and the villain is a manifestation of the Osborns' madness (i.e., when the Osborns are fully medicated or whatever, they don't know the truth about Spidey). Maybe it's just comic book crapola, but the instances of Norman (or Harry) Osborn's psychotic breakdowns, and thus homicidal tendencies toward Peter - not Spider-Man - and his loved ones, have always been the most dramatic in the comics. But even the ham-handed writers of comic books manage not to make every villain the hero's best friend, teacher, father, first girlfriend, milkman, etc.

This is a feature, and failure, of the first Batman film franchise as well. Batman is not allowed to have archenemies - they must also be friend, or foe, of Bruce Wayne as well. And so, Peter Parker's Uncle Ben was killed by Flint Marko (the Sandman), instead of Mr Carradine (who? you ask. Exactly, I say), and Thomas and Martha Wayne were killed by Jack Napier (who will become the Joker), instead of Joe Chill (who never becomes anybody, natch). While this makes for tremendous irony for boneheaded moviegoers, it in fact undermines the archetype that has made both superheroes popular: that they were inspired to take up the mantle of justice by the intrusion into happy lives, whether privileged or poor, of common criminals and senseless murder and violence. To undermine the simple archetypes is to tear the stuffing out of these childish entertainments, so you're left with just the plush shell.

And that's all Spider-Man 3 is: a stuffed toy with all the insides removed. Without the simplistic, elemental differences between hero and villain (to wit: the Joker is all about frivolity, the Batman is all about purpose; the Green Goblin's identity is based in insanity, Harry Osborn's in respectability, while Peter Parker can't get a date and Spider-Man is a creation of guilt and responsibility), the thing that has allowed the whole field of superhero entertainment via the comics is lost.

Is this all a fanboy rant? Possibly. But when you consider the Sandman, who is essentially indestructible as living particles of sand, the only thing Spidey ever had over him was that Sandy is about as smart as sand and Peter Parker is a college student (oh yes, I can go on about this for hours). Again, the dichotomy-yet this aspect makes no appearance in Spider-Man 3. Why?

Because this film is all about visuals... Nothing in it makes sense. Mary Jane's (and Kirsten Dunst's) whining and/or screaming in terror, Peter Parker's dancing (my God, what were they thinking?), the fact that the alien symbiote Venom is black instead of bright red and blue, Sandman's looking like a leftover prop from The Mummy Returns, blah-blah and on and on. Sam Raimi, Ivan Raimi and Alvin Sargent's screenwriting is muddy, awful, unconnected, and it's a damn shame they strayed so far from the basic material. The sad fact is that the Spider-Man comics have always been a soap opera anyway, and for someone to take such simplistic material, dress it up in a lot of visuals, and ultimately fail to put together cohesive entertainment is just pathetic.

On the positive side, J.K. Simmons returns as erasable Daily Bugle publisher J. Jonah Jameson, and while his performance is enjoyable in itself, the fanboy in me must wonder if he isn't parodying Stan (the Man) Lee just a little bit. But it is time to give us what we're waiting for, Spider-Man film people. When will Dr Curt Conners (Dylan Baker) become the lethal Lizard? I'm guessing that when he does, Gwen Stacy's (Bryce Dallas Howard) gonna end up dead. Your friendly neighbourhood you-know-who will take the fall, bringing the wrath of Captain Stacy (James Cromwell) and the NYPD, putting the web-head on the lam, and out of public favour, which will impede our hero's ability to bring in Conners and return him to human form. C'mon, you guys, I can write a Spider-Man film sitting at my office desk after hours, and you highly-paid (over $200 million for this crap?) Hollywood types give us Spider-Man 3? I want my money back.

Do yourselves a favour - rent Spider-Man, watch it on your mate's big screen TV, and spend the money you save from buying theatre tickets on beer. You'll have a much better time.
Spider-Man 3 poster

Spidey vs Sandy

Please support this
website - buy stuff
using these links:
Amazon.co.uk
Amazon.com
Send it DVDs
W.H. Smith
Movie Posters

home  articles  profiles  interviews  essays  books  movies  competitions  guidelines  issues  links  archives  contributors  email
copyright © 2001 - 2007 Pigasus Press