Movie Review: Spiderman 3

Spiderman 3I went to see Spiderman 3 the day it opened. A longtime fan of the comic franchise, I’ve been more or less amused by the film versions to date. What follows is my reactions to the latest installment. Warning thar be (minor) spoilers below:

Overall rating: ** (out of 5)

The plot of this film seemed more suited for a 8-month comic book arc than a 2.5 hour movie. The movie undermined itself in an attempt to please the die-hard comic fans, without really appeasing them. The movie was very busy – three villains, amnesia-induced redemption, and a Gwen Stacy with only a physical resemblance to the original all made the movie a hodgepodge rather than a cohesive story.

The Sandman storyline petered out, and seemingly existed only for the benefit of the climactic multi-villain showdown. The ways the symbiote changed Peter were entirely too over-the-top, robbing the character of nuance. Admittedly, watching Peter Parker saunter down the street with his “hip” hair style, his stylish duds and a idiotic “I’m the man” grin led to some amusing scenes with Toby Macguire, the sudden and unsubtle aggression he displays robs Peter of what could have been a great moment when he realizes on his own what a monster he’s become.

The backstory of Venom/Eddie Brock similarly lacked subtlety – while Topher Grace acted well enough, in this fan’s opinion he was physically the wrong choice for the role – the Eddie Brock that becomes venom is supposed to be a large bodybuilder of a man, not a scrawny Peter Parker look-alike. Additionally, the changes in his storyline made Eddie into a morally bankrupt scam artist, not the well-intentioned, spidey-hating, boondock saint-esque vigilante he deserves to be. The movie looks at what may be one of the most intriguing, multifaceted character in the entire Marvel mythos through a two-dimensional “villain” lens.

The saving grace of this film was a superb and endearing performance by James Franco. This movie allowed Franco to explore the full gamut of his character – from happy-go-lucky friend, to darkly cracked and scheming nemesis, and points between. Despite the deus ex machina in the form of his butler, allowing certain transformations to occur, by easily moving between the many facets of Harry Osborne’s/The Green Goblin’s depths, Franco stole the show.