Journeys end in lovers meeting, or so the saying goes. Peter Parker and Mary Jane Watson do have one rough journey, though, before that ending comes.
Spider-Man 3 is the movie Superman Returns should have been. Take one iconic American comic book character, stir in lots of terrific, dizzying action, add a measure of relationship woes, sprinkle a dash of rocky romance, and what Sam Raimi cooks up, for the third time in a row, is a movie that captures the emotional and visual charge of the comic book art form for the big screen like no other superhero movie has done since the original Superman.
Just make sure you sit farther back in the theater to catch it all: it gets rather hectic and you may spill your popcorn trying to keep up with the exciting, Danny Elfman inspired, music and all that web-slinging mayhem.
Spidey's doing pretty well. He's on top of the world; and when Spidey's happy, Peter's happy. Filled with a cocksure attitude that he can take on anything, his Spider-sense doesn't warn him about those dark clouds on the horizon. He's so wrapped up in his alter-ego's success, he can't see that Mary Jane's really hurting from a career stumble, or that Norman Osborn's sinister heritage has been passed on to his son, Harry.
If that weren't enough to upset his cozy web, there's the meteor rock that crashes, releasing a spidery, creepy-crawling black sludge that wants to make friends with him in a really bad way; and then he finds out that the man who killed his Uncle Ben is not the man he cornered in the warehouse back in Spider-Man. The real killer of his uncle is Flint Marko, who escapes from prison only to get his molecules shaken and stirred with a pile of sand during a particle-reactor fusion test.
The result is a villain, the Sandman, that provides much of the onscreen action in swirling sand clouds that pack quite a wallop — and pathos. He's not all bad, just morphed that way. He desperately keeps trying to steal the money needed for his dying daughter's treatment, but Spider-Man keeps getting in the way. Thomas Haden Church is perfect as the Sandman. His angular face, striped-shirted athletic build, and ability to convey the internal struggle with the regret for the decisions he's made add up to one of Spider-Man's strongest, yet more vulnerable, foes.