Sony // 2007 // 139 Minutes // Rated PG-13
Reviewed by Judge Patrick Naugle // June 21st, 2012
With great responsibility comes a lot of people who want to see you dead in a ditch.
Arriving in the summer of 2007, Spider-Man 3 was a massive box office success that turned off many moviegoers and fans who thought the series had officially "Jumped the Shark." Has the film been unfairly maligned, or were the critics right all along?
Peter Parker (Toby Maguire, The Ice Storm) has found his niche as the wall crawling superhero Spider-Man, but it's coming at a cost. His relationship with Mary Jane (Kirsten Dunst, Melancholia) has become strained and the rise of The Sandman (Thomas Hayden Church, Easy A) -- a fugitive caught in a science experiment that turned him into a half-man/half-sand-mutant -- will provide Peter with new links to his past. Even more alarming is the arrival of a meteorite carrying a viscous, black tar-like substance from beyond the cosmos. This alien lifeform wrecks hovoc on not only Peter's life but that of his Daily Bugle colleague Eddie Brock (Topher Grace, The Double), who will soon find himself overcome by the cosmic goop...turning him into the vile and terrifying anti Spider-Man known as Venom!
Spider-Man is my favorite comic book superhero, and this is coming from someone who really doesn't give two hoots about comic books. I see most of the movies based on DC and Marvel properties, because I've been conditioned by advertising that if I miss out, the world might end (and frankly, if I didn't I'd be left with Madagascar sequels and big screen remakes of old TV shows). So it's no surprise that the Spider-Man movies are among my favorite in a jam-packed world of super heroes and super villains.
Spider-Man 3 has gotten a bad rap over the years. Upon its initial release, fans cried "foul" because...I dunno, I guess nothing can live up to the hype some movies create. Directed by Sam Raimi (Drag Me To Hell) a decade ago (!), Spider-Man was a huge hit and Spider-Man 2 was even bigger, considered by some to be one of the best comic book movies ever made. Is it any wonder that Spider-Man 3 came into the fold with two strikes against it? Like George Lucas's Star Wars prequels, it felt as if nothing Raimi churned out would be good enough to please the raving fan boys.
After the dust settled and more than half a decade passed, I'd like to think Spider-Man 3 will finally receive the accolades it deserves. While not a perfect superhero movie, I found it to be an engaging and fulfilling finale to what has become known as the original Spider-Man trilogy (don't try to sell me on The Amazing Spider-Man being a follow up, because it ain't; it's a reboot). Much like Brett Ratner's X-Men: The Last Stand, the film stands on its own merits, even if it maddens fervent comic fans for not adhering to the source material.
If the three Sam Raimi Spider-Man movies get anything right, it's the casting. Toby Maguire has always been a perfect fit for Spider-Man. His gawky, nebbish persona fits squarely with the on-screen Peter Parker. Kirsten Dunst finds just the right tone for Mary Jane who, happily, isn't the supermodel she's often portrayed as. Here, she's normal, which makes her more accessible to the audience. One of my favorite characters is J. Jonah Jameson, who's given a crisp, amusing portrayal by character actor J.K. Simmons (Juno). Even Cliff Robertson and Rosemary Harris as Uncle Ben and Aunt May embody the spirit of the original comics.
The one complaint often lobbed at Spider-Man 3 is the character of Venom, and to that end I'll agree with the critics. Venom either needed to be thrown front and center or written out of the screenplay altogether. Because so much time is split between the Sandman and Venom, neither character gets as fleshed out as Alfred Molina's Doctor Octopus or Willem DaFoe's Green Goblin. Topher Grace is given the thankless job of playing Eddie Brock as a complete departure from the original character (who looked a lot like Arnold Schwarzenegger). Grace is a fine comedic actor, but not very adept at creating menace or tension. Faring much better is Thomas Hayden Church as Marko Flint, The Sandman, a far more formidable Spider-Man foe. Since Church's turn in Sideways, he's shown himself to be an adept actor capable of deep pathos and range. The Sandman is one of the best characters in the Spider-Man cannon, and it's a lot of fun to see him get the spotlight here.
It's during Spider-Man 3's mid-section that Raimi decides to take the film in an odd direction. The otherworldly black suit turns Peter Parker into a jive talking, dance hustling ladies' man, done in a slapstick comedy approach. Many critics found these sequences too broad, but I was tickled at how much fun Raimi was injecting into the proceedings. Having Peter become a bit of a prick offered another dimension to the character, which was fine by me. Maguire stepped up to the plate and delivered a fun and funny performance that gave Spider-Man 3 a very different vibe.
Not surprisingly, the action and visual FX sequences are all top notch. Venom's design is toned down from the comics (here he's thinner and less grotesquely monstrous), but Sandman is executed to a tee. The final battle between Sandman, Venom, and Spider-Man (high above an unfinished construction site, natch) is thrilling, fun, and delivers an emotionally packed ending that ties up the loose ends and keeps the door open for future sequels (which never came to be).
If you were one of the people who dismissed Spider-Man 3 as a failure, give it another shot. Even with its misfires (James Franco's New Goblin looks terrible; Venom's personality isn't menacing enough), it's still a rousing conclusion to one of the best superhero trilogies to come along in years.
If you've picked up Spider-man 3 (Blu-ray) expecting to discover a world of new material, you won't. The presentation is simply carried over from the original single disc releases and 2-disc special edition (minus the bonus features). However, both the video transfer (2.40:1/1080p) and the audio mixes (LPCM 5.1 and TrueHD 5.1) are about as perfect as you're going to get in this format format. Bonus features include two commentaries (one with actors James Franco, Tobey Maguire, Kirsten Dunst, Thomas Hayden Church and Bryce Dallas Howard; the second with producers Avi Arad, Grant Curtis, Laura Ziskin, F/X supervisor Scott Stokdyk, and editor Bob Murawski), a Snow Patrol music video, a blooper reel, and a photo gallery. The only "new" features -- and I use that term very loosely -- is an Ultraviolet Download (don't call it a digital copy) of the film, and $10 in movie cash for reboot coming to theaters this summer.
Spider-Man 3 is a movie I've revisited several times and have been (mostly) pleased at how well it holds up. Sam Raimi is a master storyteller and, while his work in the Wall Crawler's universe is over, it'll be fun to see what he does next. This triple dip of Spider-Man 3 on Blu-ray is just a quickie cash grab for the release of The Amazing Spider-Man, so unless you need a copy of it on your iPad or laptop, it's not worth your time.
A web-slinging wonder of story, acting, and VFX. Not Guilty!
Review content copyright © 2012 Patrick Naugle; Site layout and review format copyright © 1998 - 2013 HipClick Designs LLC
Scales of Justice
* 2.35:1 Non-Anamorphic (1080p)
* TrueHD 5.1 Surround (English)
* Dolby Digital 5.1 Surround (French)
* Dolby Digital 5.1 Surround (Portuguese)
* Dolby Digital 5.1 Surround (Spanish)
* Dolby Digital 5.1 Surround (Thai)
* PCM 5.1 Surround (English)
* English (SDH)
Running Time: 139 Minutes
Release Year: 2007
MPAA Rating: Rated PG-13
* Blooper Reel
* Music Video
* Photo Gallery
* Ultraviolet Download
* Movie Cash