SPIDER-MAN 3: Seduced By The Dark Side
SPIDER-MAN 3 (sci-fi adventure)
Cast: Tobey Maguire, Kristen Dunst, Thomas Haden Church, James Franco and Topher Grace
Director: Sam Raimi
Time: 139 mins
Rating: * * * (out of 4)
WHAT'S THE BIG DEAL? The third instalment of the "Spider-Man" franchise takes the story into "Star Wars" territory, with Spidey getting ‘seduced’ by a ‘dark side’. This seems to have come the way of Superman – in the form of a meteor of gooey black gel that crashes into Earth from another galaxy.
Now, if you are thinking that the script-writers are rummaging in the ‘box of movie cliches’ for plot ideas, yes, "Spider-Man 3" can be rather predictable, and even a little long-winded. However, director Sam Raimi has upped the ante in the special effects department and his awesome sequences of the shape-changing Sandman would probably blow you away. If, somehow, you feel disappointed with the plot of this sequel, it is probably because Raimi had made the two predecessors so fantastic that expectations inevitably run high for this one. No, "Spider-Man 3" is not disappointing. It just gets bogged down a bit by a heavily-laden plot, repetitive sequences and some recurring jokes...
WHAT'S IT ABOUT? Peter Parker (Tobey Maguire) seems to have everything going for him and (Kristen Dunst). He has been given a special ring by his Aunt May (Rosemary Harris) so that he can pop the question to MJ at a posh French restaurant. However, a blob of black goo drops from outer space, latches on to his Spidey suit and generally fouls things up for him by enhancing his powers and corrupting his ego. From here on, his relationship with MJ hits the proverbial rocks.
If that is not bad enough, he has to contend with escaped convict Flint Marko (Thomas Haden Church) who transforms into the formidable shape-changing Sandman; wrestle with his buddy Harry Osborn (James Franco); and ward off Eddie Brock (Topher Grace), the new photographer at the Daily Bugle who is also changed by the black goo into the nasty Venom.
HIGHLIGHTS & LOWLIGHTS: Fighting three villains – and himself – may be too much for Spidey but it can also be a strain on the movie as Raimi seems to be trying to cramp everything into the plot. With so many things going on, we are distracted from the main characters, especially the juicy love triangle among Parker, Mary Jane and Harry Osbourn.
Some of the other subplots are equally engaging, like Parker’s tryst with his beautiful course-mate Gwen Stacey (Bryce Dallas Howard). However, it also gets the short shrift when it is quickly dismissed so that Spidey can get to other matters at hand. Yeah, if we feel letdown, it is because Raimi gives us such glimpses of delectable plot dishes, only to take it away before we can digest them. While he had maintained a wonderful balance between stunts and story-telling in the first two efforts, he seems to be in quite a hurry here.
The saving grace is the cast, though. Maguire and Dunst have definitely grown accustomed to their roles – and each other – and it is delightful to see them together again. Church and Grace have fleshed out their roles convincingly as ‘accidental’ villains, and many of us would feel pity for them. Ms Howard also proves she is not just ‘eye candy’ and has made good use of the little on-screen time she has. The only one who looks rather ‘lost’ is Franco, the poor rich boy who can never get the girl or anything he wants.
THE LOWDOWN: There is no doubt "Spider-Man 3" will do well in the summer box-office stakes. After watching the ‘origin’ of Sandman sequence, you will realise that Raimi and his crew have made good use of the budget. Welcome back, Spidey!