SPIDER-MAN 3 is a touching musical about a young couple whose struggles to keep their relationship going increase as they face the challenges of career, money and maturing in a fast paced world where not everyone is your friend, and old friendships can turn into something quite different. It stars Tobey Maguire as a man named Peter Parker. Parker is a photographer for money but he goes to grad school as well, and by night he dresses up as Spider-man, one of the most famous superheroes on the planet. However, as famed as he is as Spider-man, he doesn’t make any dough at it, so Parker must ride a mini bike to work, and lives in a tiny shoe-box — albeit one with a great view.

Meanwhile, Parker is trying to deepen his relationship to his girlfriend, Mary Jane Watson (Kirsten Dunst), who has just opened on Broadway as the third lead in a new musical as the film opens. Director Sam Raimi has set up a sort of present day take on A STAR IS BORN — while both Peter and MJ seem to be having success in their respective careers — she as a star of musical comedy, and he as a superhero — Spider-man’s career is on the upswing, no pun intended. The main action of the film is set off when MJ’s limited singing talents get bad reviews and she’s canned from the show after a single performance. The fact that she doesn’t tell Peter immediately shows the cracks in their relationship, and sets them both off on the road to self doubt.


While Peter and MJ try to iron out their difference, several complicating factors arise: there’s Harry Osborn (James Franco), Peter’s one-time best friend, who is also in love with MJ and blames Peter for his father, Norman’s, death (Peter was present when Norman died in a accident while dressed as a supervillain.) In addition, there’s Eddie Brock (Topher Grace), a competitor for Peter’s job at the Daily Bugle, and Gwen Stacy (Bryce Dallas Howard), Peter’s pretty blond lab partner who is also dating Eddie. Finally, there is a supervillain named Flint Marko (Thomas Haden Church), who has the ability to turn into sand, which can be pretty handy since he’s a petty criminal who is trying to steal money to save his young daughter. Peter also has to deal with his costume being taken over by an evil alien symbiote, which brings out some of his worst qualities at a time when he’s trying to patch things up with MJ.

The main problem with SPIDER-MAN 3 is that there just weren’t enough musical numbers. Mary Jane has a few scenes, and Maguire performs a humorous song and dance reminiscent of Christopher Walken’s classic number in PENNIES FROM HEAVEN. For reasons unknown, Raimi decides to substitute CGI fight scenes between Peter in his Spider-Man outfit and the Sandman, Harry Osborn and, later on, a character named Venom. These fight scenes, while well executed, do nothing to move the story forward and just slow down the denouement of whether Peter will be able to win MJ’s love back. Raimi should have just stuck with his original plan to make a musical — it could even have ended with a great take off on A STAR IS BORN with MJ getting up on stage and saying, “Ladies and Gentleman, my name is Mrs. Peter Parker.”

Instead, by throwing in all those action scenes, Raimi just makes a puzzling blend of melodrama and heroics. Call it “Imitation of Strife”*…if you want to do Douglas Sirk, just do Douglas Sirk!

Despite our reservations, the rather piquant and vibrant scenes in SPIDER-MAN may make it a cult favorite among action movie enthusiasts, and we predict this film will make a lot of money.


PS: Yes, yes, yes…we are HUGE fans of Sam Raimi and his quirky pacing and what not but this time he made a movie that was ALL QUIRKY PACING! SPIDEY 3 is 75% melodrama, 10% wonderfully humorous bits (particularly Bruce Campbell and JK Simmons) and 15% action. If it had about 10 minutes cut out — did we need to see the facade of EVERYONE’S building EVERY TIME we cut to that scene???– it would have been a fine final chapter to the trilogy.


I will say that Haden Church as Sandman was SUPER DUPER. Best villain in all three films. The special effects were eerie and imaginative, and Haden Church underplayed the role beautifully, rocking that striped shirt like the sad, middle aged loser he was.

Perhaps because the Sandman was so cool, Raimi totally lost control of the Eddie Brock/Venom plot line, which should have been THE central idea of the movie! Instead of endless scenes of Peter and MJ squabbling, or Peter and MJ phoning each other and one of them not answering the phone (this must have happened four times), or scenes of Aunt May telling one of them what they should do, we should have honed in on Eddie Brock and why he was bad, and why he was doomed. As it is, his heinous deeds amounted to nothing more than using Photoshop. We hear in the sequel he comes back and uses In Design — Oooo!


The truth is, in Sam Raimi’s timeless 50s world where young folks still live in ratty apartments in the city, guys take their dates to jazz clubs where the waitresses double as singers, and newspapers still sell, all of the characters are so well known and lovable that we WOULD watch them run around crying in diners for 2 1/2 hours. He’s earned our goodwill. SPIDEY 3 isn’t a horrible movie — as the directors cut on DVD it would have been fine. As a theatrical movie, it’s just…long.

PPS: We were sitting next to Peter David at the screening and since he wrote the novelization it was sort of like having a commentary track in the theater. He did tell us about stuff that was cut OUT of the film and there was A LOT.

PPPS: Stan Lee’s cameo might just be the best one yet.

* Credit to our movie going companion Ken for this line.


  1. Raimi totally lost control of the Eddie Brock/Venom plot line, which should have been THE central idea of the movie!


    Venom’s there – note perfect translation of a shallow, stupid, self-deluding character aside (and don’t you just love the spideriness of the baby symbiote?) – to hold a mirror up to the Harry/Peter conflict. That’s the real heart of the film – finding a way to forgive. Finding a way let go. Finding a way to take responsibility for one’s screwed-up choices.

    And the ending – which should BE an ending – was absolutely perfect.


  2. I liked it. Sure, it’s full of flaws. Sure some things just don’t make sense.

    But it entertained me. The Bruce has perhaps his best little cameo yet.

    I wonder what some critics were expecting, some grand Shakespeare play? It’s a movie based on a comic called Spider-Man.

    All it has to do is entertain you, and it did for me.

    (Of course, I adore Raimi and co for the Evil Dead Trilogy, which was also filled with flaws, but they do the same thing the Spidey Trilogy does. Entertain.)


    Campbell as the lovechild of Cleese ‘n’ Kline! Yay!

    (obviously, I think there’s something about Spider-Man that speaks to fundamental human concerns in the same way that the Bard does, e.g.: accepting responsibility for the adults we become, empathy, and punching giant scorpions)


  4. Yeah, you know I was really liking Spider-Man until green goblin came to the front. It had alot of heart, and it was an over all good story. I also like how they payed tribute to just about every old horror movie in one way or another whenever they could fit it into a shot. Part 2 did nothing be bumb me out. What I always liked about Spider-Man was that no matter how insignificant he felt as Parker, he could always put on that costume and be king of the world. Just from watching clips of 3, I assumed that it’d be more of the same, and I just decided from that, that I don’t want to see it. To top it all off it came out after 300, and that was everything I could possibly ever want in a comic book movie. After seeing that, I feel that I’ve gotten a really great movie fix and can now spend more time doing other things with my life, without feeling the need to go and sit in a dark room for 2 or more hours.

  5. Since I plan to see this in Imax, I will wait until Wednesday, To avoid the hooting fanboys.
    Want singing, dancing, romance, martial arts, humor, and one of the HOTTEST hunks to ever hit the screen? Go buy a copy of Krissh! It’s from Bollywood, and it is the. best. superhero. movie. EVER.

  6. I don’t think Christopher’s been reading the same Spider-Man I’ve been reading… I don’t know how we could get such disparate views of the li’l webbed fella, but “he could always put on that costume and be king of the world” doesn’t really describe the Spider-Man I know at all. That wasn’t even the case with the Bakshi cartoon I grew up watching. Peter does occasionally use Spider-Man as a defense mechanism to distance himself from whatever ruin his life has most recently become, but even as Spider-Man, he is almost constantly weighed down by the weight of responsibility he has chosen to shoulder. It’s pretty rare that he exhibits anything that might resemble a king-of-the-world outlook – and those are usually moments of self-congratulation or irresponsibility (with occasional instances occurring after a particularly happy victory – his ride off into the sunset, if you will).

  7. Yes! Oh yes! The Stan Lee cameo almost made me cry!

    I enjoyed it, but two deus ex machinas more or less began and resolved the Osborne-Venom saga. Which is a shame.

  8. I was also entertained by it … but not enough to forgive the majority of it. It’s a blockbuster film, not independent cinema. I expected more by-the-numbers thrills and less of a story that *cannot* be summed up in a single sentence. When I want a slice-of-life melodrama on releationships I don’t think Spider-man would be on my list.

    But that’s just me, like I said, it did entertain. Though a few plotlines were left dangling.

    As the most expensive movie ever made it made me scratch my head. I predict a heavy drop after 2 weeks. But then…. just about all movies suffer that nowadays.

  9. The truth is, in Sam Raimi’s timeless 50s world where young folks still live in ratty apartments in the city, guys take their dates to jazz clubs where the waitresses double as singers, and newspapers still sell, all of the characters are so well known and lovable that we WOULD watch them run around crying in diners for 2 1/2 hours.

    There was something weirdly quaint about the portrayal of NYC in this movie, from the MJ-bombs-on-Broadway plot to Peter Parker’s supposedly cheap apartment with the killer views and Soho location. Not to mention the hilarious idea that there’s a particle accelerator somewhere out in the New Jersey Meadowlands. At least the film was made on location!

  10. It just shows how close different genres are. If you took all the MJ/Peter/Harry/Gwen scenes and added a full orchestra and bathed it in technicolor you would basically have a melodrama from the 1950s perhaps starring Lana Turner as MJ.

    The Sandman effects were brilliant but I’m most wild about Harry. Of all the characters in the films he is the one who has the most full story taking him from here to there, so he kept my interest most of the three. Eddie I thought was a bit of a snore because much of his story, as per Peter David, seems to have been left on the cutting room floor.

    Glad I saw it, but I think it would be better on TV.

  11. It’s all entertaining enough and I think those who see the movie in the right frame of mind will enjoy it. It’s better constructed than most of what comes out in the blockbuster-type movies and the comic fans who go see it will undoubtedly have the mental cliff notes to enjoy what is going on even in the parts of the film that seem too brief or somewhat lacking.
    The dvd director’s cut Spider-man 3.5 will probably be very cool.
    Still, it would have been smoother if ONE of those story lines had been removed and expanded on in its own movie. It speaks well of everyone involved with this film that it did not become “Spider-man Forever”.

    Mostly I just want to see Bruce as Inspector Clouseau trying to prevent evil someones from using the Pink Panther as a key element in a doomsday device.

  12. The movie is terrible.
    The action scenes looked like a Playstation game opening!
    Please wake up Spider-Man 3 sucks.

  13. My wife and I saw Spidey 3 this morning and it exceeded all of my expectations – it was way more terrible then I thought it would be! We did have fun MST3King the movie (there was only one other person in the theater – we saw this at 8:30am at a local theater that was showing it every hour this past weekend).

    I was sure that however bad the movie would be that it wouldn’t be campy, but it was, showing that history always repeats. None of the action scenes had any tension, too many falling buildings and people, hell too much of everything which is ultimately just numbing and yawn inducing. Spidey 3 is all about excess and with a capital EXCESS.

  14. ” … in Sam Raimi’s timeless 50s world where young folks still live in ratty apartments in the city, guys take their dates to jazz clubs where the waitresses double as singers, and newspapers still sell …”

    I hate to tell you this BUT … a number of young people start out living in ratty apartments. A friend took a pretty hot little number to a jazz club (in Philly) recently, and they had a great time. Don’t know about the singer/waitress combo. I work for a newspaper, so I can attest that they still sell. It’s not the plastic/phony world of CSI, where every coroner looks like a MAXIM model … but it’s a little closer to the real world than we might care to admit.

  15. This has got to be the biggest joke I have ever seen. Did I see you call Spiderman 3 a MUSICAL? You are without a doubt one of the most complete morons i have ever encountered. Who cares what you thought about the movie anyways, because it wasn’t made for somebody like you. Musical?! Eat Sh*t…