Spider-Man 3
Director: Sam Raimi (Spider-Man series, For Love of the Game, Evil Dead Series)
Writers: Sam Raimi, Ivan Raimi, Alvin Sargent
Producers: Grant Curtis, Laura Ziskin, Avi Arad
Starring: Tobey Maguire, Kirsten Dunst, James Franco, Thomas Haden Church, Topher Grace, Bryce Dallas Howard
MPAA Rating: PG-13
Running time: 140 min
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reviewed by Andrew James
     You know the old saying that goes, "money can't buy everything?" Well, I finally understand what ol' dad was trying to tell me. Money can buy things: giant sand creatures, men on flying surf-boards, even a hideous looking creature with black goo that shoots all over the place; but it sure can't buy acting, storyline, dialogue or intrigue.

      Walking into the theater for Spider-Man 3, I went in with reservation and very low expectations as I am in the minority, but not a fan of any of the installments of the Spider-Man franchise. I will say that my expectations were met. Peter Parker swings around on webs shot from his wrists, struggles with his girlfriend and fights the bad guy in the end. Hey, I remember seeing this exact same scenario play out in the first Spider-Man of 2002 and another film, also directed by Sam Raimi, called Spider-Man 2.

      This time however, our friendly neighborhood web slinger is confronted with not one, not two, but count 'em, three villains! And if you account for Parker's inner demons and his struggle with "the dark side of the force," you technically have four villains. So there is little room for growth or development among any of the villains and they are as shallow and hollow as they can possibly be. This is attempted to be compensated for by fast paced action for the first 15 minutes of the movie and the last 15 minutes. The rest is filled with corny, CORNY dialogue, some of the stiffest acting I've seen since Glitter and shakey camera technique.

      For 45 minutes to an hour of the middle part of Spider-Man 3 is filled with the most uncharacteristic Spidey yet. Some sort of cosmic, black substance has taken over Spidey's body and created someone totally different from Peter Parker's normal, good-natured persona. The way in which this new persona is carried out is laughable, bordering on disgusting. It is more reminiscent of Saturday Night Fever than a big budget comic book adaptation. One can only hope that the intention was for it to be laughable. Even if that is the case, I weep for the future of this franchise. Without details, all I can say is, "would you like some wine with that CHEESE?"

      As I said, $300 million can get you some neat effects and it's easy to see that that is exactly where this money went. The Sandman looks fantastic and just about every shot of him on screen is wonderful to look at and a spectacle to behold. Venom is equally as impressive, though not quite as showy or grandiose. We've seen The Green Goblin before, so that's not really anything new, though his theatrics and high flying ability seem to have improved since the first film. Same goes for Spidey. We've seen it twice before... ho-hum.

      So then there's the acting... weeping Jesus on the cross, the horrible acting. I don't know if this is characteristic or intentional as to more effectively translate the emotions of a comic book character, but scenes that are intended to be full of drama and pain elicited groans and cackles throughout the theater on several occasions; specifically Tobey Maguire in just about every scene. I have a biassed dislike of Maguire as it is, but even trying to put that aside, this performance was laughably poor. Even actors that I normally really appreciate, like Topher Grace and Bryce Dallas Howard lacked any kind of interest for me and were as stiff and hollow as can be. Granted, they're side characters dealing with a screenplay based on a comic book about a man bitten by a radio-active spider, but c'mon; there must be something that can bring about your motivation. The best part was easily Bruce Campbell's (who has appeared in every Spider-Man movie) cameo as a French maître d'. J.K. Simmons is always fun, too, as the editor in chief of The Bugle. Too bad niether of these characters are on screen for more than a few moments.

      As Roger Murtaugh would say, I think I'm too old for this bleep. The camera is constantly moving and after five minutes my eyes were shaky and my head was spinning. The chaos and confusion of a street battle between good and evil is forced with uber close-ups, unbelievably fast-paced editing and shaky camera work. If I were A.D.D. I'd be right at home during these sequences.

      This isn't the worst movie all time, but it's certainly one of the worst of 2007. With a running time of almost 2 1/2 hours, it was almost too much to take. More than one ending, Dunst singing songs (yes, that's songs - plural) and nothing we haven't really seen before; just bigger, brighter, louder, longer and more frantic. I've never walked out on a movie before and I certainly wasn't about to do so during the kick-off to summer block-buster season. Still, this was one of the most uninteresting, unintentionally amusing movies I've seen in a long time. Hopefully this isn't what we have to look forward to in the coming months with the other big money-makers of the year.

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IMDb.com - full cast and crew
Official Site