General Release 2007
139 minutes approx
Peter Parker/Spider-Man -
Thomas Haden Church
Bryce Dallas Howard
Directed by -
Written by -
Sam Raimi, Ivan Raimi & Alvin Sargent
Spider-Man has become a fixture in New York City in recent months, but life hasn't become that much easier for his alter-ego Peter Parker. Still stuck in the apartment from hell, he plans to ask high school sweetheart Mary Jane Watson to marry him all the same. His newfound sense of confidence, brought about by the adulation of the crowds, makes him an ideal target for an alien symbiote fallen to earth and which thrives on negative emotions as well as giving him a natty new black suit. As a result, he sends Mary Jane back into the arms of best pal and recent deadly enemy Harry Osborne, tries to take revenge on Flint Marko, recently turned into a man composed of sand and revealed as the real killer of his uncle Ben and generally acts as a right jerk.
Fortunately, he manages to divest himself of the symbiote only for it to attach itself to a rival photographer who becomes the evil Venom, a being with all of Spider-Man's powers, but more hate than can be good for any creature. With Mary Jane's life on the line, how many enemies will it take to kill Spider-Man?
Consider the X-MEN trilogy. The first film was a superhero flick that was a little light on the action, preferring to concentrate on character. The second continued to concentrate on character, but was able to ladle on the action now that the origin story was out of the way. The third film tried to jam too many storylines into what it knew would be the last instalment. This is a pattern that is all-too familiar when looking at the Spider-Man films.
The probably is the last of the Spider-Man films, at least with the current players and so too many plotlines have been jammed in before the end comes. The Venom storyline on its own would have been sufficient, as would the new Goblin/Harry Osborne story. The Sandman story would have needed some serious beefing up, but could have been enough with a bit of work. Having all three of these in one film makes it a little crowded in there and Sam Raimi's determination to do right by all of them makes for a film that, quite frankly, rambles all over the place at times. Having three villains instead of one means that you have to have at least one fight with each and so the action comes thick, fast and somewhat repetitive.
The fights, as in the film's predecessor, are fast moving - in fact so fast moving that the camera is whipping around faster than the characters and it's hard to follow who's doing what to whom. Action needs to be fast, but not to the point of losing sense.
Surprisingly enough, some of the CGI work is a bit dodgy as well. Spider-Man flying through the air is now so second nature that the effects guys don't even need to try, but the Sandman, especially the giant one that takes part in the final battle, is surprisingly less than convincing. The alien symbiote effects, though, are brilliant and downright creepy.
It's on a human level that the film works best. When it is dealing with the complex relationship between Peter, MJ and Harry the film is grounded and earthy and believable in a way that the silly comic book stuff doesn't deserve. Take away the heroics and this would be a pretty good human drama in its own right. Tobey Maguire has Parker nailed, whether as the uncertain, loveable hero or the alien-made super jerk. He carries the film with ease and provides a very strong centre. Kirsten Dunst is also excellent as Mary Jane, vulnerable and confused and not too bad at screaming when in deadly peril. James Franco also makes a real impact as Harry Osborne, the third side of the triangle. The rest of the cast give good support and when you can waste the likes of Theresa Russell in a single scene cameo then you know you have strength is depth.
The dominant theme is revenge and redemption. Just about everyone here is acting badly under the influence of outside forces (alien symbiotes, dead fathers and sick children) and they are all looking for some form of redemption before the end.
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