by Gary Schultz
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The third installment in Sam Raimi’s Spiderman trilogy is billed as the largest budgeted movie ever made and will destroy the box office with the largest opening weekend in movie history. The question is will audiences be satisfied with this third installment? The answer is…yes, I think audiences will be satisfied with Spiderman 3 but it won’t quite live up to its massive hype and is not better than the first two. The third installment in any successful movie trilogy is always the most anticipated and most critiqued. So let me briefly take you through the story without giving too much away.
At the start of the film things are great and New York loves Spiderman, minus J. Jonah Jameson of course. Peter Parker loves Mary Jane and Aunt May still bakes great cookies. Harry Osborn stills holds Peter responsible for the death of his father, the original Green Goblin and Harry tries to kill Spiderman about ten minutes into the movie in a fantastic opening fight sequence. Enter the rest of the villains: Flint Marko escapes from prison and is caught in a strange accident where an experiment that displaces molecules transforms him into the Sandman who is able to manipulate his body into any shape of sand he sees fit. Peter is enraged to find out that Flint Marko aka The Sandman was actually responsible for killing his Uncle Ben. At this time Peter discovers a mysterious black substance that has copied the form of his Spidey suit. When he wears the black costume it heightens his power and brings forth a darker side of Peter and Spidey.
Fueled by anger Peter starts to give into this new dark personality, and starts to abandon the ones he loves the most. After Harry’s fight with Spidey leaves him with temporary memory loss he soon regains his focus and takes over as the new Green Goblin. Peter and Mary Jane have a falling-out thanks to Harry’s manipulation and Peter’s own stubbornness. Peter attempts to hurt MJ with a romance with his lab partner, the beautiful Gwen Stacy but in doing so Peter sets off a rival Bugle photographer named Eddie Brock. Brock is obsessed with Stacy and obsessed with taking Peter’s job at the daily bugle. As Peter discovers that the black suit is changing him into something evil he rejects it and separates himself from it. But the mysterious black alien substance finds Eddie Brock, a man that hates Peter Parker as much as the black alien symbiote does. Brock is turned into Venom the most dangerous villain Spiderman will ever have. Peter is forced to become the hero he has forgotten about, the hero that was beloved by millions and face his darkest challenge yet.
It’s difficult to utilize a lot of villains in one movie. It was a disaster for “Batman & Robin” but Sam Raimi in my opinion is a much better suited director for this genre than Joel Schumacher could ever be. The balancing act for the story is a difficult one because in the limited amount of screen time you want to learn as much as you can about these characters and along the way you have to give the audience what it came for, some kick butt battle sequences. This movie is a lot of fun and reflects the aesthetic of the comic book very well. In the comic Spidey is always battling numerous villains and dealing with his relationships and problems at school. This movie takes on a huge amount of story telling and crams it into two and a half hours. This is the biggest flaw of this film. These are great characters and Sam Raimi tries to let the breath as much as possible but with so many great characters there’s just not enough time and so some of the storylines aren’t as developed as I would have liked. I thought Flint Marko’s stumbling into a sandpit and being transformed was all too convenient and the experiment should have been explained more.
Topher Grace is great as Eddie Brock the anti-Peter Parker and I wished I had more of him. Venom looked great but I really wanted something different with his voice to happen. And I’ll say that Harry’s storyline was my favorite. He was my least favorite character in the first two films but here in the third since his story has had so much time to develop everything comes full circle and makes him in most ways the best character in this movie. Sandman’s story is tragic and really parallels Peter Parkers relationship with Harry. As Peter has been trying to tell Harry that he didn’t kill his father, Sandman is trying to explain to Peter that he didn’t mean to kill his Uncle Ben. Neither will listen with revenge on the mind. I really enjoyed the battle sequences and when Peter is influenced by the black suit and becomes a darker figure the best moments of the film are played out.
The Bottom Line is Spiderman 3 is a good time. It’s fun, the action is great when it’s there and the love story just like in the first two Spiderman films is campy and cheesy but that’s okay because everyone loves their friendly neighborhood Spiderman. And even if Spiderman 3 isn’t better than the first two, it does at the very least hang in there and hold it’s own, especially compared to how many other 3rd installments in successful trilogy’s have been a complete let-down. I’ll give you examples: X3: X-Men United was a horrible mess, Superman 3 even with Richard Pryor was a lousy, Blade Trinity wasn’t as cool as the first two and dare I even mention the 3rd installment of the Matrix? Unwatchable garbage. So all you snobbish critics out their put on your teenage or kids size 3-D goggles go to an IMAX and remember the things you love about the Spidey comics. Enjoy Spiderman 3 it’s a lot of fun.
Gary Schultz is an independent filmmaker in Chicago.
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