Spider-Man 3
Every subsequent sequel of a hit movie arrives in theaters with tremendous expectations.  Filmmakers feel they must top the last film in order for the audience to enjoy the experience.  For Spider-Man 3, expectations are extremely high.  The first two movies did well critically, and even better financially.  The approach by director Sam Raimi (Spider-Man 2, Spider-Man) was to throw in a little bit of everything.  That way, everybody would see something in the film that he/she likes.  Want villains?  There are three here.  Want endings?  Like Return of the King, there are way too many spots where the movie ends, then keeps going.  Spider-Man 3 is overly ambitious, with too many characters, too many plots, and a monstrous running time.  It's still an enjoyable film, but less so than the first two installments.  The movie is in dire need of a large set of pruning shears to its length, plot, and characters.
Too many characters means too few opportunities to really explore who they are.  Part of this is forgivable.  By now, everybody knows Peter Parker (Tobey Maguire, The Good German, Spider-Man 2) and Mary-Jane Watson (Kirsten Dunst, Marie Antoinette, Elizabethtown).  But with the supporting cast already large, the inclusion of three, arguably four new characters is too much.  Raimi, who co-wrote the screenplay with his brother Ivan (Army of Darkness, The Nutt House) and Alvin Sargent (Spider-Man 2, Unfaithful) do give the series a sense of momentum, as character arcs change over the course of films.  Parker's alter ego Spider-Man finally has the respect and admiration of New York City.  Parker wants to propose to Watson, who has her first starring role on Broadway.  But critics pan her, and Parker, who is reveling in his newfound adoration, is a bit too into himself to notice how much she is hurting.  Watson runs to the arms of Harry Osborn (James Franco, The Dead Girl, The Wicker Man), who is only too happy to help.

Meanwhile, Eddie Brock (Topher Grace, In Good Company, P.S.) is a new photographer who wants a job at the Daily Bugle, and will stop at nothing to get one.  Meanwhile, Flint Marko (Thomas Haden Church, Charlotte's Web, Idiocracy) is an escaped convict who was involved in the murder of Parker's uncle finds that his body is like sand, and he can create shapes with his appendages, or disappear into sand, after he hid from the police and was trapped in a scientific experiment.  Meanwhile, Gwen Stacy (Bryce Dallas Howard, Lady in the Water, Manderlay), who is a cute classmate of Parker's, who happens to be the daughter of a high-up police official, and is rescued by Spider-Man causes Watson's jealousy to flare.  MEANWHILE, a mysterious black goo from space latches onto Parker, turns into a new black costume that brings out some of his darker personality characteristics as well as giving him an emo haircut.

Because the Spider-Man series set itself apart by showing the vulnerabilities and flaws of Parker, there are now scenes showing his change in personality with the new black suit. Although Raimi intends these scenes to show character growth, regression, there are simply too many extraneous scenes. Scenes like Parker strutting down the street, or a bizarre dance routine in a jazz club are a bit much. Raimi builds slowly (sometimes too slowly) to a spectacular climax high above the skies of New York. The final battle sequence is what raving fanboys have been waiting for, and does a good job of bringing various plot threads together. As with the other films, the special effects, particularly those for Sandman, look great. Spider-Man 3 doesn't pack the punch of the first two, but is still fun to watch.

Haro Rates It: Not Bad.
2 hours, 20 minutes, Rated PG-13 for sequences of intense action violence.

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