Spiderman 3
The Amazing, The Astonishing, The... Eh, Not This Time
Spider-Man 3 proves more is less

Inadequate, baffling, and ridiculous at times, Sam Raimi's "Spider-Man 3" lacks the charm and wit that made its predecessors so memorable. Instead of racing across the finish line in a blaze of glory, Raimi's superhero saga trips over its own feet, scrapes a knee and falls flat before the finish.

In the third (and final?) chapter of Spider-Man's adventures, Peter Parker (Tobey Maguire) must balance his private life and his superhero duties while taking on his most fearsome foe yet, a static-filled plot with half-developed storylines.

At the start things seem to be going great for our favorite webslinger. A voiceover by Pete tells us that New York City idolizes and adores their friendly, neighborhood superhero for his good deeds. This sudden change of heart is never explained, and is quite puzzling, as he's been treated like a terrorist armed with box cutters and un-American propaganda for the past two films.

As New York's favorite celebrity, Spidey is given the key to the city by Gwen Stacy (Bryce Dallas Howard), whom he saved in your typical ‘crane smashing into a skyscraper' incident. All this adulation goes straight to Pete's head, and he's so clueless in his relationship with Mary Jane Watson (Kirsten Dunst) that he doesn't even notice she's been fired from her Broadway debut.

If I could choose one word to describe Spider-Man 3, it would be "meanwhile." The whole plot fixates on the idea of roughly 15 different storylines going on at once. While Pete contemplates asking Mary Jane to marry him, Uncle Ben's real killer, Flint Marko (Thomas Hayden Church) escapes from prison and falls victim to an absurd (yet visually stunning) particle experiment that turns him into The Sandman.

Meanwhile, Harry Osborn (James Franco) takes a page from "Memento" and loses his short-term memory in an encounter with Spidey. The result has a conflicted Harry becoming friends with Mary Jane and Pete all over again, only to regain memory of his dead father and wage his vendetta against Spider-Man as the new Goblin (which means he rides a jet-powered snowboard and dresses like a ninja).

Meanwhile, a pompous photographer named Eddie Brock (Topher Grace) fights for a staff position against Pete at The Daily Bugle. Strangely enough, this jealous tool thinks he's dating Gwen Stacy, which only continues to perpetuate trouble for Pete after he saves her life.

MEANWHILE, A meteorite containing mysterious black space goo crashes and attaches itself to Pete, forming a symbiotic bond with Spider-Man to produce "Black Spidey," aka "Evil, Emo Spidey." In case you didn't know, this symbiotic goo attaches itself to Eddie Brock and what results is Spider-Man's most vicious villain, Venom (who is about as intimidating as Topher Grace in real life).

What results from all of this "meanwhile-ing" is Spider-Man facing three villains that don't amount to one Green Goblin or half of a Dr. Octopus.

Sam Raimi, if you're listening - I have a few questions. Did Kirsten Dunst have a stipulation in her contract which stated she must punish the audience with not one, but two musical numbers?

Is "Emo Parker," with black eyeliner prancing flamboyantly down the streets of New York, then putting on a "dark" exhibition of jazz piano and devious dancing in a nightclub really showcasing how revenge can be a poison? We're supposed to feel sorry for Pete as the symbiote takes control of him right? I felt like I was watching "Rent" all over again. Oh, the nightmares.

Why does Spider-Man fight villains and have conversations with them without a mask on? Isn't the whole idea of a costume to conceal his identity? For once I would like to see Spider-Man last through a fight with his mask on and intact. Fans pay to see the iconic Spider-Man beat up the baddies, not Tobey Maguire in a blue and red wet suit.

Okay, I'm finished with my open-ended interview with director Sam Raimi. My final thoughts go something like this: "Spider-Man 3" isn't a bad movie. It's entertaining and visually stunning with its high-priced computer effects, but it's lacking the depth and substance its predecessors had.

"Spider-Man 3" kicks off the summer blockbuster season with a staggered sigh of disappointment. It seems that Marvel's reign at the box office may be coming to an end. It's almost like Raimi sabotaged his own film, hoping after audiences viewed "3," no one would want a 4, 5 or 6.
Reviewed by: adam