Tuesday, May 08, 2007


Everyone who knows me knows that I am a big fan of comic book movies. Even though I've never really been an avid reader of any except the old Donald Duck comics, I have a deep an abiding affection for superhero stories. When I was a kid, I remember how I used to wait anxiously for Superman: The Movie to air on television and when Tim Burton's Batman was released, I was a staunch supporter. I actually loved both the Burton Batman movies, adore Christian Bale as the new Batman, and yes, I even watch Batman:Forever and Batman and Robin when they come on televison. As far as my critical opinion goes though, there are three films of the genre that stand out to me above the rest. To give you an idea of where I'm coming from with this review, here's my three favorites: X2-the second of the X Men Movies (for it's excellent story, wonderful characterizations, and great acting), Spiderman 2 (for the sweet love angle , well rounded villains, and brilliant action scenes), and The Hulk (for the tender moments that were lost on most people and the amazingly effective direction by Ang Lee that most accurately conveys the story's source material, in my opinion).

Spiderman 3 was a good movie and just as enjoyable as the other two films, in different ways. The characters are still just as loveable, the direction by Raimi is still very interesting and action-packed without trying to be overly-realistic, and the score is outstanding as always. It tells the continuing story of Peter Parker as he deals w/ his newfound popularity as Spiderman and his deep love for Mary Jane Watson, his childhood crush. Just as Peter is beginning to contemplate a marriage proposal to MJ, his childhood friend Harry Osborne begins to enact his revenge on Spiderman for having killed his father three years early. Add to that a new villain in the form of ex-convict Flint Marko (miraculously transformed into The Sandman by vague agri-scientific means) and Peter's days are pretty full, causing Mary Jane to feel slighted and unimportant. More chaos is thrown into the mix when a competing photographer at the Daily Bugle, Eddie Brock, begins to challenge Parker at work and Gwen Stacey, a beautiful model, vies for his affections. Finally, a strange alien substance begins to bond with Peter and forms a new 'black suit' that brings the dark side out in our hero.

Like I said, there were things about this edition that I really enjoyed. The run time was long (2 hrs 22 minutes) but nicely paced, even for this complex and somewhat maniacal story. Bryce Dallas Howard was memorable and perky as Gwen Stacey, a role very different from her darker, gothic heroines of The Village and Lady in the Water. The transition of Flint Marko into The Sandman was one of the highlights of the movie and I found it emotional and oddly moving. I also loved the story involving the alien costume. One of the best things about these movies has been it's nice stab at comic book humor and the unabashed handling of Peter Parker's goofy personality. This movie deals with that in an even more entertaining manner as the alien matter begins to turn Peter into a darker version of himself, still goofy but now also arrogant and kind of a meathead. Topher Grace is also an excellent addition to the cast and his transformation into Venom was extremely well done. All in all, the good stuff was really good and I was largely entertained.

Now for the bad: In my humble opinion, I felt there were just too many villains in this movie. Just when we're starting to get a feel for Harry has the Goblin, he's given a case of amnesia and replaced w/ The Sandman. The same goes for Flint Marko as he becomes the Sandman, wreaks some havoc, and then conveniently gets set aside as we dwell on the alien costume. So it's no surprise that just when the alien costume is getting super interesting, spidey rips it off and splits, leaving Eddie Brock to 'pick up the pieces' and become Venom. The sheer number of nemeses in this movie prevent true development of any of them, leaving the viewer (especially this Venom fan) understandably dissatisfied. I also felt this problem could have been solved by simply cutting Harry Osborne's amnesia segments altogether and focusing instead on the evolution of the various villains. The love story is nice, as always, but with everything else that is going on, it takes a backseat to the rest of the mayhem.

If you've got kids, this has about the same ammount of comic-booky violence that the first two had, with maybe a little more macabre imagery due to the alien sembiote and Venom's big ol' teeth. Also, the slow, 'human' sections are numerous so they may get a bit bored. If they enjoyed the first two, however, they are bound to love the spidey slinging and the great action sequences as much as the adults.

My rating: 7/10 (worth the theater ticket price but maybe more of a bargain during the day)