Spiderman 3: (2007)
Director Sam Raimi
Starring: Tobey Maguire, Kirsten Dunst, James Franco
I don’t like Spiders. I’m more indifferent to the small ones, can live with the ones the size of a 2p, and can just about cope with the spindly invisible ones that leave webs everywhere. But the largest ones simply must be destroyed, as they swagger across the bathroom or bedroom floor, confident that their bloated bodies and intimidating leg span will keep you too terrified to go near it. That’s why I have a huge-spider-thwacking-stick to get the overconfident bastards that think they’re too big to touch.
In a seamless intersection, the creators of Spiderman 3 may have felt much the same way as a recent beastie in our bathroom. They had a very good reason for this, as did the audience. Spiderman One and Two were both highly enjoyable movies, weaving the perfect balance of storytelling, character and awesome comic book action. The anticipation for this third instalment has been, to put it mildly, MASSIVE. The trailer first appeared about 8 months before the release date, followed by a constant barrage of images, and a tie-in font with Sony’s Playstation 3 logo. Just in case.
So I’m going into this film with hopes only a little deflated by absolutely atrocious reviews, even from that bastion of blockbuster big-ups, the mighty Empire magazine.
And I can see why the reviews have been mixed. In some ways, this is the greatest example of comic book adaptations ever put on screen. And, in others, it’s definitely a load of sentimental juvenile crap. Discuss.
Let’s see the case for the ‘awesomeness’. It contains some truly astounding SFX work. The creation of Sandman (Topher Grace) alone is worth the ticket fee. Never have tiny particles of dirt looked so lifelike, flowing into human form and performing stunts that look totally, unarguably natural. There are many-many fights, all created beautifully. The opening battle between Spidey and New Goblin is a spectacular treat, and things just get bigger from there!
As well as the SFX eye-candy, it’s also very funny. Jonah Jameson, in particular, is on top form as Parker’s newspaper chief. Bruce Campbell also cameos again to try and ruin Peter’s life. There were many cheers in the theatre when Campbell appeared, and I have to admit to looking forward to him most of all! Also look out for Ted Raimi, the director’s younger brother, in a side-splitting scene set in Jameson’s office.
The little character moments tend to work better than the overall story. It’s as though they tried to cram every idea they ever had into this ‘final’ part of the Spiderman Trilogy. This made an otherwise fun film far too long, and very awkwardly paced. The multiple of characters have the combined depth of cardboard cut outs, without the light-hearted charm of the previous two movies. In addition, there’s a weird moralising thread about one’s ‘dark side’ that entirely misses the spot. Peter Parker’s over-hyped ‘rebellion’ is nothing more than him being slightly less of a sap – and it’s played heavily for laughs. For example, a dance number, in Spiderman? It just about works, but it does give many critics a big stick of their own to attack this Spidey with.
The fact that I still can’t decide if I really like it or not proves that at least some of it was enormous fun – which it certainly was – but overall, it really clunks. A downbeat finish, with one-ending too many – means that this time Spidey overloads his web.
The short version is – I can’t love it, but I did enjoy it hugely til the very end.