A to Z Challenge – S is for Spider-Man 3

We interrupt your regularly scheduled A to Z post because “S” is also for…Superman! The new Man of Steel trailer debuted last week and oh. My. God. Behold:

I’m insanely excited for a Superman movie now. Good show, DC.

And now, back to your regularly scheduled A to Z post and the Marvel universe!

spiderman-3-posterConsidering that I loved the first two Spider-Man movies, you’d think I’d be over the moon for Spider-Man 3 no matter what. A superhero movie, third in a trilogy that was getting exponentially better, two new villains including one fan favorite…it had to be good, right?

All I can say is that if this is an indication of how the movies are going to play out this summer, it’s going to be a long, long, long three months.

In Spider-Man 3, things are going just rosy for Peter Parker (Tobey Maguire), which is quite a change. He’s doing well in school, everybody loves Spider-Man, and he and Mary Jane Watson (Kirsten Dunst) are happily an item. Granted, there’s still that little issue with Harry (James Franco) wanting to kill him because he believes Spider-Man killed his father, but that’s just peanuts, right?

Things are going so stinking well that you almost can’t wait for something bad to happen. It does, in a number of ways: Harry, now the New Goblin (instead of Hobgoblin), attacks Peter; the convict who really shot Uncle Ben, Flint Marko (Thomas Haden Church), escapes from prison and gets turned into Sandman thanks to a particle physics test facility; and new photographer Eddie Brock (Topher Grace) shows up to challenge Peter’s position as the sole Spider-Man photographer for the Daily Bugle.

To top it all off, a weird black goo from outer space has followed Peter home, and attaches itself to his Spidey suit. The alien symbiote amplifies his Spider-Man powers, but has the unfortunate side effect of amplifying Peter’s aggressive tendencies as well, giving him a thirst for revenge and making him more of a jerk. It has the equally unfortunate side effect of making him wear eyeliner and comb his hair so that he looks like the fifth member of Fall Out Boy.

Apparently instead of making somebody more powerful, bonding with an alien symbiote just makes them emo. I half-expected a scene that showed Peter updating his LiveJournal with a whiny blog about how nobody understands him and how it’s just so damn hard being a superhero.

That’s bad enough, but what’s worse is that it gets to the point where you’re rooting more for Sandman or the Goblin as opposed to Spider-Man. It’s frustrating to be forced to watch a character you hate and be told that you ought to be rooting for him.

The whole thing about the movie is that sometimes the greatest villain come from within, which is a great theme that has been done excellently before. I don’t know if it was the script or Maguire or both (I’m leaning toward both), but it just didn’t work the way it should’ve. You should be genuinely worried about Peter succumbing to the dark side of his nature. Instead, you just want to backhand him and tell him to man up. It’s not cool; it’s annoying.

It also doesn’t help that the movie is too long. That’s it. It’s just too damn long, and since you spend the bulk of the two-and-a-half hour runtime wanting to wrap your fingers around Peter’s throat, it feels like forever.

Not all is bad, though. The supporting characters shine, especially Auny May and J. Jonah Jameson. (J.K. Simmons alone is probably reason enough to watch the movie, at least once.) They made a pretty big deal that Bryce Dallas Howard was playing Gwen Stacy, and though she does a fine job, she’s not in that much.

The villains are also done well, especially Sandman. His back story is fleshed out just enough to make him a sympathetic villain. He’s not a calculating genius like Doc Ock, but a big, brawny guy who’s going about trying to save his daughter the only way he knows how: steal the money for her medicine.

It’s most unfortunate that Venom, probably the most anticipated villain of this movie, has only minimal screentime. Grace plays Eddie Brock as a smarmy jerk who pretty much gets what he deserves, but it would’ve been cool to see him as Venom more.

I guess the ultimate thing about Spider-Man 3 is that it’s disappointing. It wasn’t terrible, but there are so many “would’ve, could’ve, should’ve’s” involved. It could’ve been tighter; it could’ve been cooler; it could’ve been better. It’s a hard thing to see a weak link in an otherwise solid series. They had the opportunity to blow us out of the water, and it just didn’t happen.

Here’s hoping the rest of the summer movies do more than just meet expectations.

From 2003 up until 2007, I was lucky enough to have “movie reviewer” as my job description. As such, I’ve built up a *lot* of reviews for just about every movie that came out during those years, as well as reviews of classic movies. This is one of the reviews I originally wrote during that time.

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