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Spider-Man 3
Directed by Sam Raimi
Written by Sam Raimi & Ivan Raimi and Alvin Sargent

Spider-Man 3
Principal Cast
Tobey Maguire -- Spider-Man/Peter Parker
Kirsten Dunst -- Mary Jane Watson
James Franco -- New Goblin/Harry Osborn
Thomas Haden Church -- Sandman/Flint Marko
Topher Grace -- Venom/Eddie Brock
Bryce Dallas Howard -- Gwen Stacy
Rosemary Harris -- May Parker
J.K. Simmons -- J. Jonah Jameson
James Cromwell -- Captain Stacy
Theresa Russell -- Emma Marko
Dylan Baker -- Dr. Curt Connors
Bill Nunn -- Joseph 'Robbie' Robertson
Bruce Campbell -- Maître d'
Elizabeth Banks -- Miss Brant
Cliff Robertson -- Uncle Ben Parker
Past Feature Reviews
A review by Rick Klaw

Traditionally, third chapters of franchise series suffer a significant drop in quality when compared to their predecessors. Superman 3, X-Men 3, Return of the Jedi, Batman Forever, Godfather: Part III, and Army of Darkness all disappointed. The only successful franchise to offer a superior third film, the James Bond series, followed up two exceptional features (Dr. No, From Russia With Love) with the genre-defining Goldfinger.1 Thankfully, Spider-Man 3 falls in the James Bond category.

Opening as the previous films with a sensational Kyle Cooper-designed kaleidoscope sequence interspersed with scenes from the first two chapters, Spider-Man 3 picks up from the end of Spider-Man 2 with all the major players and unresolved plot lines returning. Peter Parker and Mary Jane (again portrayed by Tobey Maguire and Kirsten Dunst) explore the next level of their relationship. Harry Osborn (John Franco) seeks revenge for the death of his father, the Green Goblin. Spider-Man enjoys unprecedented levels of popularity as media star. Chaos quickly ensues with the appearances of the bent-on-revenge Harry as a Green Goblin Jr. of sorts, the new super-villain Sandman adding a new twist to the Uncle Ben story, and a mysterious symbiotic alien wreaking havoc in Peter Parker's life. Director Sam Raimi effortlessly weaves the various threads into a complex web of compelling action.

A continuing fight with his best friend, startling revelations about the death of his beloved Uncle Ben, and relationship troubles push Peter through a wide gamut of feelings from guilt to shame to fear, and eventually, to rage. The talented Maguire expressed this wide range effortlessly and believably.

The acting throughout Spider-Man 3 achieves a quality not present in the previous movies. Franco and especially Dunst are obviously comfortable in their roles. Oscar-nominated Thomas Haden Church expertly plays the conflicted, yet simple-minded Sandman. As the deranged Venom, Topher Grace displays previously unseen acting skills. Bruce Campbell's memorable portrayal of a stereotypical farcical French host in an upscale French restaurant offered a much-needed moment of levity.

Unlike the previous chapters, Christopher Young replaces Danny Elfman as the original score composer. Young lacks his predecessor's expertise with super-hero and strange cinema. At times the music jars and lacks fluidity.

With three villains, the plot and the screen sometimes seem cluttered. The Sandman/Uncle Ben subplot feels recycled and beyond offering some really snazzy special effects, it adds little to the film.

The first two Spider-Man installments established new standards in super-hero movie storytelling, thrilling audiences with superior special effects, riveting storytelling, and quality acting, all while staying true to the source material. Ultimately Raimi, who has claimed this will be his last Spider-Man picture, rose to the challenge successfully resolving all dangling plot threads and storylines satisfactorily. Spider-Man 3 is an excellent addition to an amazing movie series.


1 Lord of the Rings is less of a franchise and more one long ten hour story divided into three chapters.

Copyright © 2007 Rick Klaw

Regular SF Site contributor, Rick Klaw is the author of Geek Confidential: Echoes From the 21st Century and has written about super-heroes and movies for Moving Pictures, The Austin Chronicle, RevolutionSF, and other venues. A lifelong Spider-Man fan, Klaw first learned to read so he could understand the webslinger.


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