“With great power comes great responsibility.”
The statement, popularized in the first Spider-Man movie, holds just as true with the latest installment, Spider-Man 3, due in theaters this Friday.
For this go-round, director Sam Raimi, who also helmed the first two installments, has wielded all of his might, along with that of a plethora of computers, in order to try and give audiences the biggest and baddest Spider-Man movie yet. And, throughout the CGI-laden film there is not a single effect that looks cheesy or slightly undercooked. Raimi and his team are able to blend the CGI and live action elements into a dizzying array of punches, kicks, and exploding pumpkins. It’s a thing of beauty and all the time, effort, and money that put into it was well spent.
Sadly, the same thing cannot be said for the script and pacing of the film. The first two films in the series, despite their action and fighting, still had the feel of being small, intimate stories. That feeling is not present in this installment.
Picking up in Peter Parker’s (Tobey Maguire) life where the last film left off, Harry Osborn (James Franco), Peter’s one-time best friend, is still out for revenge, thinking Peter murdered Harry’s father (the original Green Goblin from the first Spider-Man movie). Harry, as the New Goblin, attacks Peter in the film’s first display of computer enhanced fighting. It’s an amazing display, though some of it happens way too fast for the eye to catch on the big screen.
Soon enough, our friendly neighborhood Spider-Man has other enemies to battle, most notably Flint Marko (Thomas Haden Church), Marko’s evil super-identity, Sandman (some Church, mostly CG), and Spidey himself. Early on in the film, an evil sentient black ooze attaches itself to one of Parker’s Spidey-suits, turning it black. The ooze, a symbiote we’re told by Peter’s professor, Dr. Curt Connors (Dylan Baker), changes Peter’s persona, making him more vicious and mean.
Herein lies one of the great problems of the film. Rather than going for dramatic weight at what should be important moments in the film, more often than not Raimi opts to play the entire thing for laughs. When Peter’s personality is affected by the ooze he does some bad disco moves walking down the street, and a Jim Carrey Mask-esque dance in a jazz club. Additionally, the obligatory Bruce Campbell appearance (which I was happy to see), simply went on too long and only added to the overly humorous tone the film set. The first two films, with their ability to mix huge, action-fantasy set pieces with a dramatic, serious, storyline, were two of the best comic book adaptations ever put on the big screen and helped to elevate the genre.