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Spidey Senseless: "Spider-Man 3" PDF Print E-mail
Movies - Reviews
Written by Mike Schulz   
Wednesday, 09 May 2007 02:17
Spider-Man 3SPIDER-MAN 3

Spider-Man 3 runs nearly 140 minutes, but it would be difficult to argue that it doesn't require that length. In Sam Raimi's third installment of the comic-book franchise, our crime-fighting web-slinger (Tobey Maguire) has not one, not two, but three über-villains to contend with: the hulking, misunderstood Sandman (Thomas Haden Church); the globular space infestation Venom (played, in human form, by Topher Grace); and former best friend Harry Osborn (James Franco), son of original Spider-Man nemesis the Green Goblin, who's now eager to take on the family business.

But even without these antagonists, Spidey's experiences as Peter Parker would feature enough drama to fill a movie or two. His ego having grown proportionally with his fame, Peter is in danger of losing girlfriend Mary Jane Watson (Kirsten Dunst), especially once platinum-blond Gwen Stacy (Bryce Dallas Howard) enters the picture; snide photographer Eddie Brock (a pre-globular Grace) is threatening to steal Peter's Daily Bugle job; Peter learns that the true killer of his Uncle Ben is still at large; and, oh yeah, that vicious space goo has, without our hero's knowledge, taken up residence in his apartment.

Regardless of length, that's a lot to shoehorn into any movie. But it turns out that Spider-Man 3 needs all the entanglements and plot diversions it can get; it's only the occasional inspirations that keep you from bolting from the auditorium during the hellishly bad ones.

Don't get me wrong: The great moments are legitimately great, and occur early enough to have you expecting an overall marvelous time. An action set piece involving a crane run amok is spectacularly exciting - the sustained silence as a girder prepares to take out a skyscraper's entire floor provides a giggly rush - as is Spider-Man's first battle with Sandman, whose combination of brutishness and suggestive beauty (he wafts through the air like the physical embodiment of a twister) is comic-book perfection. Nearly every sequence involving Sandman is a miracle of special effects, none more so than Church's early transformation into a purely granular creature; for a few minutes, Raimi achieves a mixture of comedy, horror, and wonder that outdoes anything in his previous Spider-Man entries.

In the opening reels, there are also plenty of human touches to fill you with hope. A scene of Peter and Mary Jane happily reclining in an oversize web above Central Park has a true romantic pull, and the welcome reappearance of several supporting characters - Rosemary Harris' touching Aunt May, J.K. Simmons' hysterically dyspeptic J. Jonah Jameson, Elizabeth Banks' snippy secretary Miss Grant, Mageina Tovah's sweetly loopy Ursula - makes you grin. Plus, with Dunst (as ever) lending her role more gravity and emotionalism than it deserves, Mary Jane's travails as a struggling Broadway performer are surprisingly moving, though the character's firing from her first musical would be more poignant if we hadn't heard Dunst sing; based on the evidence, she deserves to be let go. (Perhaps realizing the actress' vocal inadequacy, Raimi, later in the film, wisely has Peter interrupt Mary Jane before she does damage to Peggy Lee's "Fever," though we still have to endure her rendition of "I'm Through with Love.")

The series' villainous newcomers, too, more than carry their weight. We discover that, before acquiring his atomic powers, Church's convict resorted to burglary to raise money for his sick daughter, Penny (after all, a Penny saved ... ), and the actor's solid, heartfelt work in his introductory scenes reverberates even after the character has been thoroughly CGI-ed; Church easily gives Spider-Man 3's standout performance. And Grace's quick-witted smarminess proves positively essential to the proceedings - he's a hissable nemesis you love.

Despite all this, though, you may find yourself feeling a mild discomfort - a foreboding - during the film's first hour. (This feeling actually starts during the opening-credits sequence, a schizophrenically edited assemblage of Spider-Man 1 and 2 clips so distracting that you can't read who's responsible for the film ... which might just be intentional.) With a script credited to Raimi, his brother Ivan, and Alvin Sargent, the dialogue is as clunky as it was in the previous Spider-Mans, but the plotting is even more so; the means by which Sandman acquires his powers and that space infestation finds its way to Peter would be lazy even in a Spider-Man comic from the '60s. (What, exactly, was the point of the atomic testing in that enormous sandbox?) The character of Gwen pops up with annoyingly convenient regularity and makes little sense to boot - so she's a model, Peter's lab partner, and the police captain's daughter, and she previously dated Eddie? - and Harry's rehabilitation as a nice guy finds Franco stuck in meandering scenes in which we're just waiting for his inevitable return to Goblinhood. Even the token cameo by Marvel Comics founder Stan Lee is a fizzle; he shows up just long enough to say "'Nuff said" and kill the movie's momentum.

Yet nothing will quite prepare you for the staggering embarrassment to come. After being exposed to the space goo, Spider-Man's latent hostility is awakened, and he transforms into a dark-suited avenger. Peter, however, transforms into a doppelgänger of Eddie Murphy's Buddy Love in The Nutty Professor. Narcissism in full throttle, he struts around and, in general, makes an alpha-male spectacle of himself, yet the film can't decide if this new Peter is meant to be dangerous sexy or just dorky; women laugh as he passes them on the street, yet Gwen, Miss Banks, and a jazz-club hostess all swoon. This extended Staying Alive parody is then followed by a horrifically staged sequence in which Peter - now a hipster pianist/dancer (!) - makes a fool out of Mary Jane in her workplace, and Raimi hits such awkward notes that you don't know where the movie went; it feels as if the director suddenly abdicated his duties, leaving Keenen Ivory Wayans to take over.

Sequences this unremittingly terrible not only make you question the fun you had previously - you want to ask, "Was the whole movie this awful?" - but also ruin your enjoyment of the rest of the film. Questions that might've been ignored in waves of brilliant effects and earned sentiment become all too pertinent: How did Venom learn of Sandman's ailing daughter? Why does Sandman join Venom's quest to kill Spider-Man - wouldn't he just want to take the money and get home? Why is the action suddenly interrupted for an extended, unfunny bit between Jameson and a grade-school extortionist? And while Spider-Man's final confrontation with Sandman is suitably epic, why does the sequence climax on an astonishingly maudlin note? (It feels like the first cinematic battle royale that could conceivably end in a hug.)

The film's best scene might just be a throwaway one, when Raimi regular Bruce Campbell - bless his rascally heart - shows up as a persnickety French maître d', performs some enjoyably silly shtick, and quietly and wittily strolls off with the picture. And therein lies the fundamental problem with Spider-Man 3. Campbell takes his joke role and turns it into a deeply imaginative comedic portrayal. Raimi takes his deeply imagined - and, by this point, deeply loved - comic-book universe and turns it into a joke. 'Nuff said.

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written by Clifford T. Frazier, May 09, 2007
Why is the media being so critical of the Spiderman Movie #3?
Don't you people know that it is only a comic book brought to the screen for people to enjoy and not criticize? Do book critics review comic books with such scrutiny? Let it go.
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written by Dan, May 09, 2007
Although there were some times when it was not oscar quality, this movie was summer blockbuster at pretty much the best that it has been in three years. I think people were ready for it and the critics (including apparently yourself) are out of touch with what people like. Was this movie supposed to be the most awesome special-fx fest of the summer and advance the spiderman story? Yes. Did it do that? Totally. My advice is go see it for yourself and make your own judgement instead of relying on critics that are out of touch with what people want in a movie.
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written by your moms tea buddy, May 09, 2007
This movie is about having fun and bringing out the kid that is inside us all, that is except for Mike Schulzs'inner child which obviously caved decades ago.
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written by J. Kovach, May 09, 2007
Both my wife and I really enjoyed ourselves at this movie. My wife hates "fantasy" movies like LOTR, but she really enjoyed that the director tried to develop the characters in a way that relates to the audience. I feel this is the best Spiderman movie yet. I do feel that the directors could have showed more action sequences with Spiderman in the black suite and this is the only flaw. "One man can make a difference, Nuff said."
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written by The Colonel, May 09, 2007
To quote a good friend, "It's like they tried to shove 60 gallons of crap into a 10 gallon bucket."

Just sit and really think about the plot and the events in the movie, they made practically no sense.

And just from a fan perspective: 20 minutes of Venom? That's IT?

This movie was a let down, through and through.

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written by Bobby, May 09, 2007
So, if it's based on a comic book, it can be crap? That's okay with you? Huh.
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written by Chumley, May 09, 2007
I suppose people don't try to take into account that there is a feel to a comic book and its characters. I personally think that’s why movies like the Xmen and the older Batman films can be so horrible. Spiderman has been awarded from Wizard The Guide To Comics, the title of The Greatest Hero for several years. There are reasons for this that the movie captures in 140min that merry old Marvel Comics has spent decades to create. Peter is a loser, and the movie has only so much time to convince you of this, Peter always gets the worst out of every deal. He's as poor as it gets and is totally selfless to boot. The movies needs to portray that at times he loves who he is and what he has and then there are times where he hates it. Being Spiderman destroys everything about him that would have made him normal. He has this ability so he has to use it.
I am a really big fan of the black costume, I have the first appearance of it in numerous titles, I’m also a fan of Venom. I ask you this. How are you to pack in Secret Wars (the cross over story that produced the black costume) and about a year of the black suit, while also filling in the stories that lead up to Eddie Brock hating Peter? I think I would have done it just the way Rami did. The people watching need to really get the idea that the costume started to poison Peters mind and make him act that way, this isn’t garbage that’s added to make it funny. It’s essential to make these movies almost more comedy then action. Spiderman comics are actually pretty funny to read, he’s like the standup comic of the Marvel Universe. All the things that you may have thought were horrible I thought were the key parts of the movie. My last statement. I have been all about Star Wars all my life, I can easily say that this set of movies is so much better then that.
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written by Sirena, May 09, 2007
I have to say, I watched Spider Man 3 during a Saturday matinee. The theater, of course, was filled with kids. After the first hour of the movie, most of them were so bored and confused by the plot they were antsy, loud, and roaming the aisles. I left the theater wondering what had happened to the trilogy. I saw no point to Gwen Stacy's character, Dunst should have used a voice over, Peter Parker turned Metro Sexual with a bit of eye liner and an EMO hair cut...Venom's story line upset me, and Church was the performance I had no problems with at all. I whole heartedly agree with your review...100%
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written by Jacob Johnson, May 09, 2007
This was one of the best movies released in a long time. This guy was just trying to find something, anything wrong with it.
I thought the nerdy lady's man act was hilarious, the dance scene was kind of neat, and the number of fight scenes in this movie made it the movie it was supposed to be. It did a much better job at making the main character's dark side understandable than the latest Star Wars' excuse for a plot line. Other than a few areas, I thought the character development was better than usual.
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written by Amigoid, May 09, 2007
:- So, Good? Bad? What?
I enjoyed the movie. My kids did too, and my wife appreciated the fact that most of the men were vunerable enough to cry. The Sandman character/subplot was great. Church brought depth and character to what in the comics was a 2-D villian. If anything, the pathos of his sick daughter is over the top; what parent would not feel sympathy for his dillema. Yes there are consequences, and the was the message through the movie. Venom? Evil, but stupid. And without spoiling the movie, that supersoldier/goblin gas must have some pretty incredible regenerative powers.
Gwen Stacy was a plot device, nothing more. I loved the interactions with the Russian landlord and his daughter. The guy shows some heart when Peter finally throws things back in his place. My wife felt like the men were extremely clueless. Hopefully Ursula will find a man.
Bruce Campbell is a riot, and I loved the Stan Lee cameo. I mean, what else can be said without totally breaking the forth wall... he's getting old. For him to look out, see the world he has created from within that reality and talk to his own creation, his words bring on some poigniacy and depth.
The ending for Venom/Brock left my kids scratching their heads, but Brocks motivation is understood.
Paid full price to see it opening day. Will see it again, and buy the DVD set.
Now that we have another Marvel Movie (or 2) in the pipeline, and we at least see some CGI cameos? Spiderman swinging by while the Fantastic Four are in NYC? A flaming biker going past? Tony Stark making a call to Reed Richards? The THING having a beer with a guy with unusual facial hair? 'Nuff Said.
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written by Watney, May 09, 2007
Actually I agree with the review completely. Its a cop out to say 'It's only a movie' or 'It's based on a comic book'. Science Fiction and Fantasy do not HAVE to be subpar forms of entertainment, it is just that many writers don't put forth much effort and lazy consumers rarely demand more. Critics are savaging this film for the very clear reasons stated above. What made the first two Spidey films great is missing from this film. Spider-Man 3 is a leaden, special effects laden turkey specifically aimed at people who demand little more from a film than special effects and explosions. Humanity, compelling storytelling and the layered characterizations made the first two Spider-Man films more than 'good comic book films'. They were good films, period. Spider-Man 3 is a hollow approximation of this, and no amount of special effects can cover it up.

Though we're all entitled to an opinion, there's no need to savage this reviewer for not having the same low standards you do.
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written by drsuperhero, May 09, 2007
Wow I guess they don't call them critics for nothing. Must be tough to go through life with a glass half-empty. Not to mention the glass is dirty, and the water tainted and the air smells and life just sucks. Good grief.
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written by Capt. Obvious, May 09, 2007
It's critically reviewed because IT IS a movie. Who wouldn't want suggestions on how to make their product better and more enjoyable???
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written by Keith, May 09, 2007
I agree with most of the review but must ask the question - why is everyone harping on Dunst's singing?

Is she really a bad singer? Or is she a good actress playing the roll of of a bad singer?
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written by massappeal, May 09, 2007
i know movies have to appeal to the mass audience who isnt familiar with spiderman's story...which helps when you completely recreate it.

if you just want mindless entertainment for you or your kids im sure you may have enjoyed it cuz there's "action" (mostly cgi) "caring characters" (poor development and more rehash/no advancement) and "humor" (poor attempt, but typical old skool Raimi).

The thing is, if you have brain cells and actually cared about the film, you almost certainly would have been disappointed. Venom is the antithesis of spiderman. He should be the polar opposite of spiderman in every way and deserves a whole movie. To poorly develop the best villain the Spiderman universe and then take him out unceremoniously is virtually unnacceptable to any fan that knows jack about spidey.

Once again...joe shmo dont know. And shmos bring all the $.
Consider me a shmo since i paid my money too. good luck selling spiderman 4 to anyone...hopefully Fantastic 4 will be better since the first one was so bad i still have yet to sit thru it.
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written by WT, May 09, 2007
The movie had some good moments, but it was terrible overall. Many of those defending the movie, are saying things like, "Its a comic, just accept it."

Quite frankly, it doesn't matter where the movie came from, I paid the same money for this movie as any other, and most movies don't make me squirm in my seat from the silliness of the movie.

Then add in all those things that make no sense what-so-ever and you get what should have been a first draft for the movie.
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written by DidntSeeTheMovieYet, May 09, 2007
Long and behold, I enjoy reading the others' comments more than Mike's wisely articulated, in-length critique. Which, in turn, makes me wonder if at all we need the critique to spark good comments, or can we do even better without it ? ... but first I have to pay my dues and go to see the movie.

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written by True critic, May 09, 2007
Spidey 3 was by far the worst of the 3 movies. It was on the level of being as bad as daredevil if not worse. The movie was too long.. the villains were innacurate.. the plot was well there wasn't one.. nothing followed the cartoon or the comic books.. what is so hard to do about that and finally a whole 7 minutes devoted to the best and most well known spiderman villain venom. They did nothing right in this movie and although business wise I do commend them on a job well done, as a movie it was horrible and if a 4th one is made.. count me out.. after a showing like this i do not want to see or hear about spiderman movie again
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written by Brando, May 09, 2007
The "it's based on a comic-book" excuse doesn't work for me in the least. Yes, there are inane, pointless comics. And there are dramatic, overdone, space opera comics that are outlandish. But there are also complex, smart, and completely wonderful comics, too. Like with movies, I think it's important to make that distinction.

I suppose it's disappointing to me that EVERYONE sees summer blockbusters, despite constant let-down, and largely ignores the wealth of great material out there. ***Sighhhhhh***
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written by Quevol, May 09, 2007
Just curious Watney, is Mike Schulz your brother-in-law? :D
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written by Average Reader, May 10, 2007
The writer of this review obviously hasn't opened a comic book at all, especially if he doesn't know WHO Gwen Stacey is, or what role she has to play in Peter's life. That alone gives this writer, Mike Schulz, no credibility. Top this off with him not knowing much about Venom's abilities, leaves me wondering if this critic did any research before embarrassing himself by commenting on things he has no knowledge of. What is ironic is that the only negative reviews the movie has gotten are from clueless critics who wouldn't know a comic book if it slapped them in the face--such as Mike Schulz, the writer of this review.
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written by mr movieman, May 10, 2007
I'm not a movie critic, just someone who enjoy watching movies. I'm the sort to chuck disbelief (well, most of it) at the door and settle down for a good story told well. I really enjoyed Spiderman 1 & 2, but somehow the feeling was not the same watching the 3rd instalment. I couldn't put my finger on it.. too long? Too unbelievable (yeah even for a comic book)? Like I said I'm not a critic and am not good with words but I was let down by this one.
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written by societeez, May 10, 2007
Well, It seems what has been said about the movie has been said. I agree with Schulz, but my reason is irrelevant at this time. It would just be adding more fuel to the fire. However, I dont know about anyone else here, but did anyone see the Across the Universe trailer before Spiderman 3 started? I thought that itself was worth almost my 7.25.

And why didnt the alien goo come down with the space shuttle, like it was suppose too? Jameson mentioned his son (i think it was his son) was going to space in Spiderman 2. That would have made more sense than a small meteor hitting ironically about a quarter of a mile away from Parker. Just a thought.
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written by rhea lahiri, May 10, 2007
Good review. Pretty much on the money. Movie really did not deliver and was a dissapointment as far as I am concerned. What a waste of time. They completely lost the movie halfway through. Too mushy
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written by Cody Banning, November 07, 2007
This movie was the best it could be. No fan boy such as myself will ever truely praise a comic book movie unless it remains at least rooted loosely in continuity. With the exception of Mike MIgnola and Guillermo del Toro's work on the Hellboy film and Frank Miller's Sin City, I have yet to see a comic based film truely strike home with out either taking itself too seriously or just being plain campy while trying feebly to stick to some of it's roots. The main differenc in "Hellboy" and "Sin City" were that the creators/writers/ of the comic were on board for all or most of the screenwriting duties. I digress.
As for the Spiderman franchise, I never expected much from it, so I did not get let down very much. Yes the dialogue is choppy and some of the scenes are horribly placed, but I wish to clarify some points to you that were left for the fan boys to know, and for the rest of the four-color deprived world to find out.
Firstly, sir, J. Jonah Jameson's secretary is called Betty Brant. I had to get that out of the way right up top. Secondly, the reason Eddie Brock knew that Sandman was on his mission is because the symbiote (which you affectionately refer to as a "globular space infestation") known as Venom is telepathic, something that should not have been left to the imagination, I agree. Thirdly, Sam Raimi was BORN to direct the arrogant symbiote infested Parker. Peter ws MEANT to act hokey. Read the comics man. Last but no least, to borrow loosely from the vernacular of the amazing Mr. Jason Mewes: Don't you never say an unkind word about The Man. Stan Lee has more talent in his pinky than most writers today. He created comic book icons that made the industry great. The phrase " 'Nuff said." actually being uttered onscreen by The Man himself is enough to make fanboys far and wide cream their drawers.
In closing, sir, I know criticisim is largely just opinion anyway, but a little research cant hurt. If you wish to know my sorces on any of this material, please, feel free to email me. Thank you.
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written by Michael-DAV, November 15, 2007
I just saw this movie and would not comment on it except that I see too many people saying this was good. It was not. It was a bad movie in every sense of the term. Because of this movie, I never want to see the Peter Parker guy in any movie ever again. The first movie was adequate and mostly enjoyable, the second movie improved dramatically and really made the most of Sam Raimi's talents. I expected the 3rd to be at least as good as 1. I was wrong. There was too much they tried to cram into one movie. Instead of having limited characters and making a good movie, they loaded it up with characters and made us hate them all.
Arturo-F
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written by Arturo-F, January 20, 2008
GOD. Brutal critisism to spidey.

Anything for a paycheck huh?

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