Spider-Man 3: A Review

June 15th, 2007 | Posted in General


Number One Son Thomas and I did a Comic Book Day/movie night yesterday and finally got to see “Spider-Man 3”. Summer is so nuts for me I often find even big blockbuster films out of theaters before I finally get a spare few hours to go and see them. I did the above image as one of the “Wall Webbers” for MAD KIDS last month. Tobey Maguire is supposed to be looking like he just sneezed, and his boogers/webbing stretch across the page to a disgusted Kirsten Dunst.

Little did I realize how appropriate the image of a weeping Maguire would be. He spent over half the movie tearing up over this and that.

I was horribly disappointed in this film. I was bored out of my mind for large portions of the movie, which seemed to contain about 30 minutes of vertigo-inducing, hard to follow action and 2 hours of Peter either about to cry, crying, just finished crying or looking doe-eyed, wistful and forlorn for various reasons. There was about 20 minutes or so thrown in there somewhere when he does an over-the-top “Butabi brothers” from SNL imitation while under the influence of the black space goo, which also causes him to brush his hair into his eyes and wear not-so-subtle black eyeliner.

I understand the Marvel stamp of flawed heroes with real life problems and hang-ups… I get it. They might make great comics when you can quickly page through the angst if it gets boring and get to the punchy punchy bits, but the movie came with no TIVO remote to fast forward through those many, MANY moments to the action. The pacing of the previous movies seemed more balanced, with plots that went somewhere and with emotional scenes that ended just before I started looking at my watch wondering when Maguire was going to get into the suit and start shooting webs. In “3” I was looking at my watch, the bottom of my popcorn bucket, my shoelaces and the guy with the bad hairpiece two rows up. There was way too much of the emotional issues, and worse they were all the same issues just restated over and over… Mary Jane and Peter have relationship problems. Got it. How about some fights? I’d have even taken Mary Jane vs. Aunt May at certain points.

The action scenes were frenzied and looked very good, if they were heavy on the crazy movements and a little hard to follow. Venom looked great, as did Sandman. I could take or leave the New Goblin. Spidey himself looks more natural with the CGI than either of the first two movies… it’s amazing how that technology has evolved. It makes me exicted for the new Hulk movie.

I read a number of reviews of this film that complained that there were too many plot and elements going on at once, and that they didn’t mesh well as a whole. Personally that was not something I saw as a problem. I could easily follow the various threads. I thought the Sandman got short changed a bit, as perhaps did Venom, but I think there was room in the film for both villains. Again, too much of Peter’s woes and not enough development of some of the other characters. Why was Gwen Stacy even in this movie??? To make Mary Jane jealous? That could have been accomplished in 2 minutes with an extra. Sam Raimi really lost track of the story’s advancement with his constant hammering of the same relationship issues between Peter and Mary Jane, shoehorning in minor characters from the comics and the slow overall pace.

And what is with Spider-Man losing his mask constantly? Maguire must have something in his contract that he has only a certain amount of time in the mask. Just a few minutes into every fight it’s torn, lost, burnt off or something similar. In the next movie it’ll catch on a nail on his way out of the apartment.

There’s a lot of rumors that “Spider-Man 4” will not have Maguire or Dunst return. I think that will be good. Both have had their time with the characters and I think new actors may bring something fresh to the next film. Neither did much to add to the mix this time. J.K. Simmons was terrific as usual as J. Jonah Jameson, and the Bugle was used in just the right way and right amount of times to compliment the pacing. Bruce Campbell‘s cameo was equally entertaining. Topher Grace was about as threatening as a telletubby as Venom… I laughed out loud when his little baby face popped out of the CGI Venom, complete with fangs. Thomas Hayden Church brought as much life to Sandman as could be done in the short time he had. His face looks as coarse and craggy as sandstone, and he’s a very good actor. Great choice there.

I don’t know if I am interested in seeing this film again anytime soon. I will likely rent it as a DVD when it comes out, but I don’t think I’ll be buying it. As much fun as it is to see some of these images brought from the comic book page to life, there were just way too many long stretches of boredom between the good scenes. Of course, I’ll have my trusty remote at home to fast forward through the endless weeping Tobey moments.


  1. zwallenfang says:

    I also thought Thomas Hayden Church was a good choice, but a complete waste of a fine actor. His only real dialogue was in that bit of exposition with his wife/ex-wife or whatever she was. Other than that, about 85% of his performance consisted of roaming the streets and sewers of New York, looking confused and upset. He should have been called “Remember-me-for-the-ending-battle Man”.

    And that whole “Can one man make a difference?” bologna/cameo with Stan Lee. Did they have to? That wasn’t unlike his bit with Jason Lee in Mall Rats which was mostly a joke…12 years ago! The most redeeming part of this movie (if any) was yet another amusing cameo with Bruce Campbell, now going 3 for 3!

  2. mengblom says:

    “Again, too much of Peter?¬¢‚Äö√ᬮ‚Äö√묢s woes and not enough development of some of the other characters.”

    While I thought Kirsten Dunst was a real drag on the movie (could she have looked MORE haggard?), I think they struck a pretty good balance between Peter’s woes and the lives of the supporting characters.

    We got some interesting backstory on the Sandman, who has always (until recently…perhaps the result of the movie nudging Marvel in that direction) been a one-note badguy with no depth. Of course, some fans complained about that too (“Why do I have to feel sorry for Sandman?”), but I still think it was a good effort on Raimi’s part.

    I think Raimi also spent a good deal of time on Harry Osborn’s story. What could have been a one-note, mustache-twirling turn as a villain became a surprising tale of redemption and restoration….much like the comic book version of Harry’s life (and death).

    Though I agree Topher Grace was all wrong for the part, I think they also spent a good deal of time (perhaps too much) on developing his story as well.

    As for Aunt May, as much as I love Rosemary Harris in the role, I think we got enough Homespun Widsom from her in the first two movies, so I didn’t feel like there was alot of untold story from her direction.

    As for dwelling too much on Peter and his problems, that’s essentially been the central thesis of the Spider-Man character since Amazing Fantasy #15. Sure, they might have overdone it in the movie (perhaps that was a “bargaining chip” to sweeten the deal for Maguire), but at the same time, an intensely Peter-centric story isn’t too much of a stretch in the world of Spider-Man. More than any other hero, I think, the self-absorption angle is almost as much a part of the character as his mask.

    Of course, your mileage may vary. One man’s “fidelity to source material” is another man’s “I think I’ll look at my shoes again”.

  3. Tom says:

    I guess I come from a casual fan background with respect to Spider-Man, as I can count on one hand how many Spider-Man comics I bought and read as a kid. Maybe that makes me a poor judge of a good Spider-Man movie. The movie may have reflected the comic books accurately, but that doesn’t make it a good movie (IMO).

    I judge movies based on one criteria: how well they hold my attention. That could be through engaging storytelling, great dialogue, good pacing, great acting, etc. Elements of this film were terrific and well executed, but there were a lot of moments where they lost my attention and I wished things wold get moving. Not necessarily action, but story. Maguire seems to rely on watery eyed gazes and long, hard swallowing pauses to show emotions. After a lot of those it got old. Maguire plays Peter just a little too far into the milksop department, IMO.

  4. mosquito says:

    i’m living in germany and i wonder if there’s a way to get the spiderman artwork of mad kids or the mad parody of spiderman 2


New profile pic courtesy of my self-caricature for the Scott Maiko penned article “Gotcha! Mug Shots of Common (but Despicable) Criminals” from MAD 550

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