With the third installment in the most reliable comic adaptation franchise hitting theaters this week, is it any surprise today was chosen as free comic day?

Cast and Crew

Tobey Maguire as Peter Parker / Spider-Man

Kirsten Dunst as Mary Jane Watson
James Franco as Harry Osborn / the New Goblin
Thomas Haden Church as Flint Marko / Sandman
Topher Grace as Eddie Brock / Venom
Bryce Dallas Howard as Gwen Stacy
Rosemary Harris as May Parker
J.K. Simmons as J. Jonah Jameson
Dylan Baker as Dr. Curt Connors
Bruce Campbell as the Maitre d’
Elizabeth Banks as Ms. Brant

Written by Alvin Sargent, Ivan Raimi and Sam Raimi
Directed by Sam Raimi

Complete information is available from this IMDB page.

Buy from: Amazon.com
or Amazon.ca

Past movie reviews can be found here.

Synopsis

Just when Peter’s life is looking up in all respects, he’s accosted on six fronts. (Peter’s job, love life, and understanding of his past are attacked, while Spider-Man is attacked by three different supervillains.)

High Point

The first confrontation with Sandman, a high octane battle against the Sandman comic readers love.

Low Point

The final confrontation with Sandman, for reasons that shall be spoiler guarded: That wasn’t the Sandman, that was a big, sandy version of King Kong. Sandy works better as a man sized shape-shifter than as a great big cloud. End spoilers.

The Review

It’s a sequel and an adaptation, so that hurts the originality. They did, however, find a very different story to tell than they told the first two times around. I give it 4 out of 6.

The effects were a constant presence, and well handled. The transitions from live to CGI are getting more and more subtle each time through. The movie is not without its faults, but the visual effects are not among them. I give it 6 out of 6.

The story was not as cramped as I expected. Introducing the Stacys, running the bulk of the Harry Osborn story arc, as well as introducing Venom and Sandman is a really, really tall order. None of the plot threads get all of the attention they could have had, but none feel particularly shortchanged, either. Moreover, they manage to relate them all to the themes of choices made by individuals, and the dual nature of everybody. There are definitely more shades of grey to be seen by the decision makers this time around, and that common bond helps to avoid the sensation that they’re trying to do too much. I give it 4 out of 6.

The acting hasn’t faltered in this series. Dunst, Maguire and Simmons keep up their roles, Grace and Church both do nice turns with their roles, and James Franco steps forward to give a great and varied performance compressing 25 years of comic book developments into a two hour subplot. I give it 5 out of 6.

The emotional response was good, but not like it was for the first two. When a movie really resonates with me, I get chills. In the first movie, I got chills during the city montage that kicked off the crime fighting career, as well as when the people on the bridge attacked the Goblin. In the second, I had chills starting with the clocktower fight that lasted right through the train sequence. This time, it didn’t happen. It’s a good movie, with nice moments for comic fans, but it just doesn’t quite hit the high points that the predecessors did. I’ll still buy advance tickets for a fourth installment and line up opening night, but it won’t be done with the same level of anticipation. To be honest, I was more fired up by Harry than Peter this time. A large part of this is probably the darker nature of the story. It’s a good story to tell, but the dark edge just takes it away from the raw summer fun status that the first two films hold. I give it 4 out of 6.

The production is still there, with the distinctive Raimi camera moves and angles, the snappy editing, and the direction of the actors to tie it all together. (I particularly liked the way the black suited Spidey never needs his hands to gain balance when landing on a building, while normal Spidey always does.) I give it 5 out of 6.

Overall, it’s a quality movie that, while good, just isn’t as good as the previous installments. If you enjoyed the first two you’ll probably enjoy this one, but don’t expect the same quality that we’ve seen before. I give it 4 out of 6.

In total, Spider-Man 3 receives 32 out of 42.