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Three is a crowd in Spidey’s world

movie-reviews Updated: May 05, 2007 16:15 IST
Vinayak Chakravorty
Vinayak Chakravorty
Hindustan Times
Highlight Story

Spider-man 3

Starring: Tobey Maguire, Kirsten Dunst, James Franco, Thomas Haden Church, Topher Grace, Bryce Dallas Howard, J K Simmons.
Director: Sam Raimi
Rating: ***

All the clocks in the pawn shop in Tarantino’s Pulp Fiction always show 4:20. Mickey Mouse
creator Walt Disney was scared of mice. Bart Simpson’s voice in The Simpsons is actually done
by a woman.

And Spider-Man 3 will be a hit everywhere, despite missing out on the zing the first two films revelled in.

Strange, inexplicable facts, all of the above.<b1>

You’ve seen him wall-crawl, you’ve seen him hop and jump. You’ve seen him swing with the baddies and you’ve seen him sway helplessly in love. In Spider-Man 3, the webbed superbrat
goes juggling. He juggles his act between two PVC suits, three villains and four romantic tracks (played out between Peter Parker, Mary Jane, buddy Harry Osborn, Parker’s new classmate Gwen and Eddie Brock, the new punk photographer in town).

As the script randomly tosses one plot/subplot/romance/villain at you, and then tries to get a grip on the same, Spider-Man 3 is left hanging in one weird web of confusion.

In showbiz, the maxim goes, bigger is better. As a starry-eyed, overgrown fan boy who still worships his Spider-Man 2 DVD, I went in expecting a bigger, better show (nothing personal, the whole planet is probably with me on that one). Sadly, I only ended up discovering a fourth villain in this film — the greedy big studio greysuit who glibly peddles a lemon as if it was a lemonade factory, for some big cash.

That’s exactly where it hurts being a Spidey fan. Spider-Man, as a franchise, always stood out for its swagger. That bit flaunts itself in the successful casting of a ‘non-star’ (Tobey Maguire) as a superhero. It came alive over the past two films in the smooth mix of special effects and human drama.<b2>

And it was a swagger inherent in the plucky positioning of a superhero’s alter ego (Peter Parker) as a total loser. Over two films, Spider-Man had developed a peculiar magic. It’s almost all lost this time, as Spider-Man juggles. Early on in the film enters Villain No. 1 — Harry Osborn (James Franco) as the New Goblin. For those who came in late, he’s the son of the Green Goblin from the first film, and Peter’s ex-buddy. As a Spidey villain, the New Goblin falls flat (literally so, you’ll know what I mean when you watch the film). He’s a sad rehash of the original Goblin.

Villain No. 2 is a runaway convict (Thomas Haden Church) who, by some unexplained DNA altering, becomes the Sandman (none of what happens in this film is explained, actually). The
Sandman looks like an out-of-work Hollywood villain who failed the screen test for Fantastic 4.

And then there is the poster-hyped Venom, an alien symbiotic life form that alters the personality of whoever it settles on. When Venom hits Peter Parker, Spidey’s suit turns black, and Parker himself starts behaving as if he has seen Jim Carrey in The Mask too many times. If that wasn’t
enough, Venom transfers itself onto Parker’s rival at work, Eddie Brock (Topher Grace), to justify a tame finalé fight.

In all of this, there are the love stories. Peter loves Mary Jane, Harry loves MJ too, classmate Gwen loves Peter, Eddie loves Gwen... oh, forget it.<b3>

Does anything save Spider-Man 3?

It’s got to be James Franco in his Harry avatar. Watch him groove to jazz as he seduces MJ. Of course, there are the FX-loaded stunt trips, exciting as ever.

In a rare moment of wit, Spider-Man muses, after thrashing the Sandman: “Seriously, where do these guys come from?” Our sentiment, boy.

Next time, stick to fighting one solid villain in one film. We’re missing Doc Ock already.