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The first Sam Raimi-directed Spider-Man ended with Peter Parker (Tobey McGuire) coming to a sad conclusion - "the ones I love will always be the ones who pay." He says the line with such helpless despair; as if fate dictates that in order to achieve a greater good he will necessarily harm friends and family. From the death of his uncle to the torment of his best friend Harry, the events of the first two films seemed to justify this fear.
While on the surface Spider-Man 3 deals with Parker's obsession with newfound power and fame, at heart it's still about overcoming the initial loss of his uncle. Spider-Man holds himself responsible for what happened, and overcompensates for his shame with an extreme desire for revenge (which only creates more guilt). In the last film it led him to kill whom he thought was his uncle's murderer, and this time it will completely consume his life.
This concept of revenge and guilt also devours the film, emerging as the driving force behind four of the five main characters. Eddie Brock (Topher Grace), a young photographer just like Parker, is a villain who personifies Spidey's thirst for revenge - literally emerging as Venom out of the black suit he discards. Then there is Harry, who looks to avenge the murder of his father by killing Spider-Man, whom he thinks is the responsible party; and Sandman (Thomas Haden Church), an ex-con on the road to forgiveness thwarted by bad luck and fits of anger. In forgiving these many foes, Spidey finally learns to forgive himself.
Yet within this impressive web of symbolism and metaphor lies Spider-Man 3's biggest problem; there is simply too much of the same thing in there. You could throw a hundred villains into the mix and still make it work if they all had something different to say. But the central point is made - and made quite effectively - with any one of those foils mentioned above. Raimi's decision to stuff so many similarly driven ideas into one film make the total impact far less than it could have been.
The real appeal of this story is the prospect of Spider-Man's greatest nemesis being himself - but on screen Parker's dark side is overshadowed by that of his enemies. It's not - as some critics have suggested - that Parker isn't "bad" enough as the black-suited Spider-Man. In truth, while under the spell of greed and guilt, he assaults Mary Jane (Kirsten Dunst), ruins Eddie Brock's life and attempts murder on yet another man accused of killing his uncle. But there is no contrast in this film, and one can't measure the extent of Spider-Man's internal revolution when his enemies have such similar motives as him.
Despite all that, the other goodies over-stuffed into this film do deliver. From the brilliance of a Bruce Campbell cameo to the absurdity of two musical numbers - Raimi shows his mastery of large-scale entertainment. There are beautiful SFX involving Sandman and a particularly rousing rescue scene with Gwen Stacy (Bryce Dallas Howard). In the past (particularly in Spider-Man 2) the drama between the characters was equally intense as the visual thrills, however as the story has grown familiar and our attentions have been dragged in so many directions - the emotional finale falls flat this time. SEE ALSO: spiderman3.sonypictures.com
Imran Siddiquee is a freelance writer pursuing self-expression in all its forms. This includes the occasional contribution to LAS as well as writing blogs, essays, short stories, an unpublished novel and some screenplays. He also creates horribly amateur music with his brother Yusuf.
See other articles by Imran Siddiquee.
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