By Cornelius A. Fortune
“Spider-Man 3” is the first of a stream of blockbuster movies that will invade the theaters this summer, and is not only the best of the franchise, but stands as the quintessential fanboy’s (or girl’s) dream.
An almost perfect marriage of comics and cinema by director Sam Raimi, the audience gets a cinematic experience that’s full of cutting-edge special effects, and a great story that somehow manages to ground the film in a neo-reality populated by colorful characters, all of whom don’t necessarily don spandex. Comic book readers will probably enjoy seeing this story translated to the big screen, but will complain about some of the changes.
As you’ve likely seen in the promos, Spider-Man (Toby Maguire) gets himself a new costume, a black costume that not only looks cool, but enhances Spidey’s powers and makes him a bit more aggressive, bringing out the hero’s darker side.
Maguire must have salivated when he read the script for this film, because essentially he gets to play three different characters in this one, and the black costume-influenced Peter ends up with the best montage sequence in cinematic history. It’s so good it almost tanks from overuse, but Raimi pulls back in just enough time, because there’s another surprise in the film that shows just how talented Maguire is. This is his role, and he owns it.
The story of the black costume is a Holy Grail of the Marvel universe circa the mid 1980s, when nearly every cover of a Marvel comic had a black costume Spidey face in the left hand on the cover.
This “Spider-Man” installment uses the black get-up story as a way to shift around the pieces of our hero’s life, making this film as solid as the first, but a companion piece to the critically lauded “Spider-Man 2.”
If the point of the film is to explore Peter Parker’s journey from boy to man, we’re somewhere near the last chapter of that story. We pick up after the events of “Spider-Man 2,” where after the end, Mary Jane Watson (Kirsten Dunst) has accepted Peter’s destiny as Spider-Man, but her own career hasn’t gotten very far. Peter not only has embraced his destiny, he relishes in it – being Spider-Man isn’t just a job anymore; it’s fun too, and the city adores him.
This doesn’t mean that Peter isn’t without his share of problems. There’s his former best friend Harry Osborn (James Franco), who has taken up his father’s old mantle as the Goblin against Spider-Man. And professionally Peter is in competition for a staff photographer’s job at the Daily Bugle with Eddie Brock (Topher Grace). J.K. Simmons still provides the comic relief (and tension) as Daily Bugle Publisher J. Jonah Jameson.
Things are further complicated when Peter learns that Flint Marko aka The Sandman (Thomas Haden Church) was responsible for the death of his Uncle Ben, which turns out to be a catalyst for introducing the black costume.
While many movie franchises start to hiccup by the third film (the exception being Peter Jackson’s “Lord of the Rings”), “Spider-Man 3” gets better with each outing, and is a wonderful film that has a little something for everyone.
Opens May 4