The central premise of Sam Raimi’s epic Spiderman 3 concerns the alien symbiote that crashes to earth and affixes itself to Tobey Maguire’s nerdy Peter Parker. This black goo influences Peter and he turns into “evil-Spidey”, illustrated in the film by a black suit and an emo fringe. Thus, the superhero is transformed, caught between his sweet, geektastic nobility and his newfound swagger, all eyeliner and hip-thrusts.
In somewhat the same way, I myself face an internal struggle when it comes to my feelings about Spidey 3. My purist self insists that it’s badly made, overlong and cheesy, while my snarky side tells me that it’s pure fun escapism. There’s no doubt that I was thoroughly entertained by most of this film (though at times I began to drift) but the snobbish side of me refuses to call it a Great Film.
My main problem is the sheer bulk of the film. In 2 ½ hours we have to grapple with three supervillians, the symbiote, Peter’s relationships with Mary Jane and Gwen Stacey and the tying up of any loose ends from the first two. Being a Spiderman movie, we have to have shots of our friendly neighbourhood you-know-what zooming through
The three villains are all interesting in their own way. The Sandman (
The alien symbiote is a strange beast, transforming our hero not into Evil Spiderman as much as Fall Out Spider-Boy. The scene in which he struts down the high street in full-on Saturday Night Fever mode is too bizarre for words. I would have much preferred a darker Spiderman. They could have easily have thrown the emo-stylin’s onto the dvd special features, but in a packed cinema the general air was that of utter bemusement.
At the screening I attended, the scenes that got the best receptions were the two humourous interludes. The first starred one of my favourite characters, editor of the Daily Bugle, J. Jonah Jameson, who got a chance to hark back to 1940’s screwball comedies for more screen time than ever before. The second scene involved Peter, M.J., a wedding ring and a hilarious French waiter, played by scene-stealer Bruce Campbell. Stan Lee’s cameo elected murmurs of approval from the audience as well, while I heard that at some screenings (although not, unfortunately, mine) the audience actually applauded Peter Parker for punching Mary-Jane. If Kirsten Dunst was a good actress, I’d care.
Following the magnificent Spiderman 2, this film is a definite step-down. Leave your sky-high expectations at the door, cheer at Bruce Campbell and enjoy the campiness of it all – just be thankful they didn’t hire Brett Ratner.