Sam Raimi is cooking again, serving us the latest installment of the Spiderman legacy that he has slaved to create for us. Overwhelming helpings of CGI and conflict (internal and external) abound, Raimi delivers a hearty helping of duality with slight dashes of humor comingled to distract from the overabundant internal struggles. Raimi's current vision of Spiderman is, however, moderately different than his previous incarnations.
The first Spiderman installment presented us with the back-story and character development to give us some understanding and foreshadowing of things to come. Peter Parker (Tobey Maguire) is a nerd who gets chomped on by an obviously hungry and bored radioactive arachnid (name withheld). This eight-legged monster is also as arrogant as Peter Parker will become and desires to leave its mark on Mr. Parker, its victim. Peter Parker subsequently mutates into what we'd all like to call Spiderman, aka 'Box-office Billions.' He has this whole unrequited love thing with Mary Jane Watson (Kirstin Dunst) that establishes just how nerdy Peter Parker really is by demonstrating his utter inability to obtain the girl. Director, Raimi, gives us a small glimpse at the computer-created comic world that Spiderman lives in. Spiderman is a newbie to the superhero game at this point and he suffers from the low-end of the learning curve at first.
Fast forward to Spiderman 2. Peter Parker has now figured out the whole superhero game and tires of it. He wants a real life like the rest of his friends and decides to give up being popular so that he can get the girl. Sadly, as in most scripts, things were destined to be different for poor Peter. He gets forced out of early-retirement and back into battle to defend the honor of the girl and the city against the gigantic-metal-tentacled, multi-limbed super-villain, Dr. Octopus. Spidey's friends begin to turn to enemies and his clothing begins to make you question, 'just HOW does his webbing come out?' and 'where does his body store all the substance to make it all??!?!' The CGI makes you also wonder, 'just how long before it isn't obvious anymore what's real footage and what's CGI???'
Unfortunately for us, Spiderman 3 doesn't answer any questions about Parker's attire mysteries or respond to the CGI question with a resounding, 'NOW!' In this installment, Peter Parker is happy and healthy with his girlfriend, Mary Jane Watson. Now he has quite refined his superhero abilities and begins to feel the need to outwardly express his personal delight with his accomplishments. He starts to seek acknowledgement for his efforts and focuses on nothing except himself. There are numerous scenes endlessly drilling this in for us, just in case it wasn't obvious that his character had developed an ego bigger than the budget for this movie. With his newly discovered super-sized ego, and the entering of an alien symbiont, Tobey Maguire gets to show us that he can be naughty and nice.
Foreshadowing the end of the Spiderman institution, the writers of this movie decided that it would be unnecessary to prevent as many different character introductions and struggles from being seen by the viewing public. After the establishment of Spiderman's egomaniac syndrome, we get the pleasure of having various internal conflicts over-exaggerated for us. The Sandman comes into the picture, rife with guilt and strife, endeavoring to balance criminal acts with concern for his loved-ones. Green Goblin v2.0 is around in the form of Harry (James Franco), Peter's best friend. After giving an excuse to show off some fantastic new costuming, gadgetry and CGI, he begins to wrestle with his duality love for his friends or avenging his father's death. Even Venom makes an appearance this go-round, however, Venom proves to be one of the few straight-forward characters, who's only struggle is, 'How do I keep from drooling all over this fancy black costume??!?'
When the internal battles aren't enough, we are presented with a CGI explosion. How many times can we turn the camera around mid-fight and change directions? Well, we have CGI! Let's just keep it up and show the audience what it is REALLY like in comic-land NYC!! Sadly, the theme of extraordinary comic-land isn't portrayed appropriately, as Raimi comingles an extremely dramatic storyline/acting with ultra-ridiculous characters (Hello Bruce Campbell!), shots and scenes.
This movie felt like a last-ditch effort to show off special effects and mend up all potentially loose-ends in the storyline. I couldn't tell if I was supposed to be worried for Peter Parker or proud that he finally gets to let his evil side show. The life-lessons in this movie send mixed signals and I left wondering if I should abandon my morals and values to pursue a life of endless self-gratification at the cost of all of those around me. The over-pumped final battle sequence leaves you with the strange sensation of, 'I've seen this sometime before' as you watch Mary Jane again be in the predicament that Spidey must resolve before we can all get up and leave.
Overall, Spiderman 3 was entertaining if you can ignore the excessive duality encountered in every scene, the overabundance of 'wow!' CGI shots thrown in to distract, and the average acting capabilities of those involved in the movie (exception Maguire, Franco and Campbell). Go in expecting a blockbuster movie overkill and you'll leave satisfied and stuffed full of drama and action.
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