When I was in high school, Spider-man was the comic series that I read the most. I loved how Peter Parker was just this awkward young guy who just happened to have this super secret identity—in a sense it gave me hope to face my own awkwardness. When the movie franchise started a few years ago I was thrilled with the result. The director of all of the Spider-man films, Sam Raimi, has been able to give the movies the right balance of humor and stylized film making that has made it possible for a guy clad in blue and red tights not to look ridiculous.
Now that we’re on the third installment, the series is becoming quite comfortable with it’s characters and storytelling. As I was watching, it struck me how much like a continuing series on television this franchise was becoming, and in light of shows like Lost and Heroes, I think a TV show about an established super hero would do very well. So it was with that thought it mind that I started evaluating Spider-man 3.
As part of a continuing series, I thought this “episode” fit in very well. We’re continuing the personal relation ship drama that Peter Parker (Tobey Maguire) is having with Mary Jane Watson (Kirsten Dunst) and Harry Osborn (James Franco). We’re seeing characters show up that are important in the comic books like Dr. Curt Connors (Dylan Baker) who eventually becomes The Lizard and Gwen Stacy (Bryce Dallas Howard) who fills her comic book role of being a love interest in a romantic triangle with Peter and Mary Jane.
There were problems, however, when I began thinking of this movie as a stand-alone story. My biggest problem with it was a storyline involving Harry Osborn following in his dad’s footsteps as The New Goblin. I’ll try not to give away too much, but let me just say there’s a short-lived change of heart that does nothing more than take up time in the story because by the time the climax to the movie happens, they had ended up at the same stage the began at.
The other problem that I had with this installment is the fact that there were 3 villains in this movie. I thought we’d learned years ago in Batman Returns that when you try to cram too many villains into a 2 hour movie, someone besides the hero gets the shaft—the audience. As a childhood fan of the Spider-man series, I was really excited to see the Venom villain realized on film and I felt a bit disappointed at how lightly that character was handled.
Will all of this being said, I don’t want anyone to think that I didn’t like this movie—there are many things to love about this film! It has a great message. In addition to the standard themes of “with great power comes great responsibility” and putting the needs and safety of others above your own personal satisfaction, there’s an additional message to this movie that we all of the potential for good or evil in our lives, and it’s up to us to choose.
All in all, I would recommend this movie. It might not be the best of the series, but it definitely fits in well will the overall story of the trilogy and I for one hope that this is a series that’s nowhere near finished running its course.