Language: ENGLISH Genre: Action, Adventure, Drama, Fantasy, Sci-Fi Director: Sam Raimi Producer: Stan Lee, Joseph M. Caracciolo Jr, Joseph M. Caracciolo Jr Cast: Tobey Maguire, Kirsten Dunst, Thomas Haden Church, Topher Grace, James Franco
April 20, 2007 – In Hollywood, conventional wisdom suggests that it doesn’t matter what you do with the first two-thirds of a story as long as you have a strong ending. While the commercial success of any major film series demands that the opposite be true, front-loading a franchise with its best writing, acting and filmmaking in order to draw in that elusive “everyone” demographic, Spider-Man 3 simultaneously confirms and refutes that a series — much less a single installment — need be defined by the sum of its parts. And while some audiences may register skepticism over the possibility that a third film can suitably tie up all of the loose ends, not to mention tie-in all of writer-director Sam Raimi’s ambitious ideas, IGN can confirm that Spider-Man 3 is indeed the trilogy-closer that fans have been waiting for.
Instead of the year-plus barrier that separated the first two films, Spider-Man 3 takes place almost immediately after the events of the second film. This serves an important purpose: Harry (James Franco) learned at the end of Spider-Man 2 that Peter Parker (Tobey Maguire) is Spider-Man, and he isn’t wasting any time trying to take down the person he believes killed his father. In the meantime, Peter has grown comfortable in his relationship with Mary Jane (Kirsten Dunst), not to mention the idea that his alter-ego is an icon and hero to millions. Mary Jane, however, is struggling as an actress after receiving scathing reviews for her appearance in a new musical, and has trouble relating to Peter’s newfound confidence.
In another part of the city, escaped convict Flint Marko (Thomas Haden Church) races to find a cure for his daughter’s illness, landing himself in the middle of a science experiment while trying to evade capture by the police. His transformation into the Sandman makes him a natural adversary for Spider-Man, but Peter takes the pursuit personally when he discovers that Marko may in fact be responsible for Uncle Ben’s (Cliff Robertson) death. Unfortunately, a mysterious creature that feeds off negative energy finds the erstwhile hero during a moment of weakness and attaches itself to him, sending both Peter and Spider-Man into a dark and dangerous spiral of revenge and violence
With so many different story strands working together toward a hopefully concise conclusion to both film and franchise, it’s easy to worry about how all of the pieces can and will fit comfortably together. Indeed, even as a champion of the first Spider-Man (considering it the best comic book movie of all time), I worried that there were too many characters and just too much going on in this third installment. But with few exceptions, Sam Raimi, his brother Ivan and screenwriter Alvin Sargent have masterfully crafted a collection of characters, scenes and sequences that only seem disjointed. Raimi has previously stated that he prefers classic villains like Sandman to the fan-friendly choices like Venom, but he’s successfully managed to combine their respective appeals — the former’s compelling simplicity, the latter’s effects-heavy spectacle — in a way sure to satisfy both camps.
It’s in this capacity that Spider-Man 3 sustains — if not surpasses — that perfect balance of real world and comic book physics (a balanced successfully achieved in the earlier films). Raimi, who has projected his longtime affection for Three Stooges-style camp into almost all of his films, spares no effort here injecting goofy, humanizing undertones into various sequences in order to relieve some of the mounting melodramatic tension. An early quip about J. Jonah Jameson’s (J.K. Simmons) heart medicine seems superfluous, but it exemplifies the director’s enjoyment of silly and borderline sophomoric punch lines. But this is also what makes the film fun, playful and appealing to more than just Spidey’s core audience of fan boys and comic book followers — not to mention the reason why this series can be considered the most faithful representation of “comic book reality” committed to celluloid.