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IN SHORT: As much fun and as touching as it is Review Proof -- certainly more fun than reading this review. So we'll blather like an idiot for a bunch of paragraphs ... [Rated PG-13 for sequences of intense action violence. 140 minutes]
We'll save new readers the time spent searching through the CrankyCritic Archives: In general, we very much liked the first Spider-Man movie except for that one line about "[Peter] loving [Mary Jane] since the first grade" -- for reasons any really long term fanboy already knows. We weren't as thrilled with Spider-Man 2, except for the Doc Ock special effects. We lived in dread that Spider-Man 3 would be nothing but a two hour knockdown drag out fight between Spidey and (as the comics called him) Hobgoblin. For those that don't read the funny books, that would be Harry Osborne as Goblin v.2, even if other characters wore the suit in the comic.
Who says being a fanboy isn't a helluva lot of hard work? It makes us appreciate history so much more <g>
So here comes Spider-Man 3 with a lot of pre-release info that Venom and Sandman, both well known comic book villains as well would be the focus of the movie. Harry Osborne (James Franco) as the "New Goblin" is present as well, but the less we say about his role,the better. That's no slight on Franco's performance or the size of his part. It's just this fan making a judgment call to ensure that nothing about the Spider-Man 3 story, other than what has already gotten out, leaks from this site. But, yeah, Spidey vs. Goblin. Not the point of this film. oops.
You'll thank us when it's all done, fans. Yes you will. For you, Spider-Man 3 is packed through and through with "new" characters who you will recognize as new or in more prominent roles than in the first two films: J. Jonah Jameson's (J. K. Simmons) secretary Betty Brant (Elizabeth Banks) has just about made it to full supporting character importance; you'll find Flash Thompson (Joe Manganiello) in the credits, even if you don't recognize him in character; James Cromwell is the newest Academy Award recipient to take on a supporting role, joining the cast as NYPD police Captain Stacy. That, of course, means all of us old farts get this Spidey Universe properly rebooted, 'cuz Gwen Stacy Lives!
Cranky is having too much fun writing this page. So, forget about our usual "you shouldn't have to know a thing" rule. As we've written before, once you hit sequel number two, that rule goes right out the window. So once more into the fray go Peter Parker (Tobey Maguire) and girlfriend Mary Jane Watson (Kirsten Dunst) and loving Aunt May (Rosemary Harris). For once, everyone is blissfully happy. Spider-Man 3 begins with the City of New York trying to proclaim Spider-Man as the official superhero of the City. Or something like that. Newbie actress Mary Jane Watson is about to make her Broadway debut in a musical called "Manhatan Memories". Peter Parker splits his time between collegiate mental competition with the new blonde in Dr. Curt Connors' physics class, Gwen Stacey (Bryce Dallas Howard) and contemplating marriage to the lovely Ms. Watson. Watson still has the eye of uber-rich Pete's best friend Harry Osborne, even as said Osborne continues to harbor his nasty Spider-Man revenge fantasy -- which passes as quickly as the first set of big rescue and effects scenes, which coincide with
The effects start big, ladies and gents. They get much, much bigger.
Life passes quietly by for everyone else. Sure, there's a new photographer hunting Spider-Man photos -- Eddie Brock (Topher Grace) who is competing for a full time position at the Bugle and is the proclaimed boyfriend of the aforementioned Ms. Stacey. There's some kind of slimy alien goo that oozes out of a meteorite to take a venomous (sic) human form as one of the two new villains in this story. The other bad guy is fully human; one Flint Marko (Thomas Hayden Church) steals to pay for medical treatment for a sick daughter and has the bad fortune t stumble into an outdoor science experiment (hmm, where have we heard that one before) that binds his form to a big pile of sand. .
Boy that origin has read so stupid for the last thirty years that we really didn't look forward to seeing Sandman as co-villain. Church is a good actor and Sony has delivered great CG effects on the first two movies but we were totally unprepared for how rockin' the Sandman is on the big screen! Venom, which is what the alien menace is called, has no secret agenda under its adaptive skin -- the film easily makes the point that whatever the thing is, it's exceptionally nasty power allows it to assume human form and any super-powers the form has. Luckily for it, that would be Spidey. Any other explanation would just confuse the heck out of those t hat don't know the comics, so, just take the ride. Those that do know the comics -- even those of us who care less about the sentient black costume -- will be very much surprised at how well the big screen Venom works.
If anything pulls towards the negative, it is the need for Marvel and Sony to establish a working universe to carry the Spider-Man franchise into Part 4 and beyond. That means a lot more back story to set up than the important comic book carryovers mentioned earlier. It also means Spider-Man 3 feels like a long distance runner. We, personally, didn't look forward to the early goblin stuff even if the franchise really, really does. By the time the closing credits roll, that minor gripe had been well and truly taken care of.
Oh, and you know how Kirsten Dunst nearly got her head handed to her for wishing to the press that her character would die? Well . . . no we're not going to tell. We will point out that Bryce Dallas Howard is the daughter of actor/director Ron Howard, so she's got really good acting genes and there is a scene with a girl on a bridge so, well, fanboys know . . . no no no we're not going to tell.
Enough filling space, 'cuz that's all Spider-Man 3 requires. You're all going to go see it -- even if it were two hours of looking at a wall (we would) pay just to see if (Sony) would really have us spend $$$ to look at a wall for two hors. They don't. They spent bucks and the spent 'em well. The effects kick superior, uh, you know and should you never see Peter or Mary Jane or Aunt May or Harry or J. J. or Betty or Flash or [anyone I forgot] again, they go out well. IF, indeed, any of them go out at all. New York is known for great Chinese take out. maybe that's all Cranky means. Right..
On average, a first run movie ticket will run you Ten Bucks. Were Cranky able to set his own price to Spider-Man 3 , he would have paid . . .
Spider-Man co-creator Stan Lee makes his usual cameo
and artist Steve Ditko is properly remembered as well,
both in the film and
with proper "characters created by" credits. That's a big thing for Marvel,
trust this fanboy. Now if we get to Spidey 4, maybe they can sneak in
the Romita and MacFarlane names and get (fan and onetime Spidey writer)
Kevin Smith to direct the thing. Yeah, that's the ticket.
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