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Laramie Movie Scope:
Spider-Man 3

Overstuffed, overlong, but entertaining

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by Robert Roten, Film Critic
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May 5, 2007 -- “Spider-Man 3” is a movie that is longer than it needs to be. It has a plot that is too busy. It has too many villains and too many heroes and way too much emotional baggage. It also has a good amount of humor to offset its angst. It also has some great special effects and stunts. Despite all its excesses, all the hangers-on and nepotism, it is also entertaining in its own overwrought way.

The third film in the Spider-Man franchise brings back all its familiar characters and adds a bunch more. This time Peter Parker (Spider-Man, played by Tobey Maguire) is cruising along doing pretty well for himself, and is almost ready to pop the question to his longtime girlfriend, Mary Jane Watson (Kirsten Dunst, reprising the role). Hanging around in the shadows is his nemesis Harry Osborn (James Franco reprising his role), who believes that Parker killed his father. Osborn wants to avenge his father's death by killing Parker. If that's not enough, a new villain arises, Sandman. He is an escaped convict, Flint Marko (played by Thomas Hayden Church of “Sideways”), who becomes a super villain in a science experiment gone bad. If that's not enough, there is yet another villain who shows up, blob-like out of a meteorite to menace Parker, and his alter-ego Spider-Man, in various ways. This black blob also attaches itself to another character later on, who becomes yet another super villain.

This plot is clearly overcooked. What are the odds of three super villains showing up in the same week, one from outer space, one from a renegade science experiment and one who invents his own super flying surfboard? That's a stretch, don't you think? Not only do we get three villains, but the film explores each villain's motivations, except for the black blob, which is just plain evil. The other characters, including Peter Parker are given a complete psychoanalysis in the movie. A couple of characters turn out to be not such bad guys after all. Then there is the continuing angst of Parker's labored relationship with Mary Jane Watson. There is a clumsily contrived rift between those two lovebirds which becomes exaggerated when Parker starts turning mean and vengeful. When Parker becomes aggressive we begin to see the jagged edges of Tobey Maguire as an actor. He's very good at playing the bumbling Peter Parker, but he is not convincing as an aggressive, menacing, sexually-charged man. His aggressive, manly portrayal looks unintentionally funny.

All this drama doesn't work very well, but the comedy interspersed between the dramatic scenes is funny stuff. One such funny scene has Spider-Man dumping sand out of his costume after a battle with the sandman. The action scenes are really terrific. One scene has Spider-Man diving through falling debris, using his webs as slingshots and accelerating by jumping off other debris during the dizzying dive. It is an imaginative, brilliantly constructed action sequence. At two hours and 20 minutes this movie is pretty long and it probably could have benefitted by cutting out at least one villain, The Sandman. Some people think that more is better than enough. I think that in this case, more is too much. The movie could also have done without the presence of Director Sam Raimi's brother, Ted, and three kids named Emma Raimi, Lorne Raimi and Henry Raimi. At least one, Emma, has a speaking role, as does Ted Raimi. Raimi's other brother, Ivan co-wrote the screenplay with Sam and Alvin Sargent. There is also a speaking role in the film for Spider-Man creator Stan Lee. There is also a whole scene for an old buddy of Sam Raimi's, Bruce Campbell, who seems to have a role in every Raimi film. In all fairness, Campbell, an accomplished actor, is very funny in his comic restaurant scene. Raimi seems to have a whole entourage in this movie that probably adds 15 minutes or so to the film. That's a lot of baggage for an already overloaded film to carry.

If you have never seen a Spider-Man film, this is definitely not the place to start. Watch the first two first. This is the lesser of the three films. It is entertaining enough, but it has a number of problems, detailed above. This movie is mainly suited for hard-core Spidey fans. This film rates a C+.

Click here for links to places to buy or rent this movie in video and/or DVD format, or to buy the soundtrack, posters, books, even used videos, games, electronics and lots of other stuff. I suggest you shop at least two of these places before buying anything. Prices seem to vary continuously. For more information on this film, click on this link to The Internet Movie Database. Type in the name of the movie in the search box and press enter. You will be able to find background information on the film, the actors, and links to much more information.

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Copyright © 2007 Robert Roten. All rights reserved.
Reproduced with the permission of the copyright holder.
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Robert Roten can be reached via e-mail at my last name at lariat dot org. [Mailer button: image of letter and envelope]

(If you e-mail me with a question about this or any other movie or review, please mention the name of the movie you are asking the question about, otherwise I may have no way of knowing which film you are referring to)