Thursday, April 19, 2007

Review: Spider-Man 3

It's a brave film-maker that takes a $250m superhero movie and starts playing with the conventions of the summer blockbuster - but that's exactly what Sam Raimi, director and scriptwriter of Spider-Man 3 has done.

Of course, he's got reason to feel cocky. The last two instalments in the franchise have made more than $1.6bn at the box office, and won critical plaudits for their emotional and dramatic depth. I always found those elements a bit cheesy, myself. Simply saying "with great power comes great responsibility" over and over again doesn't make you Aristotle. You'd have to be Greek for that. And dead.

Nonetheless, Spider-Man 3 is probably the best outing yet. It juggles a bewildering number of story-lines, three villains, the aforementioned cod-psychology and a couple of comic set pieces with real confidence. It literally swaggers with bravado.

The basic idea is this: Peter Parker is finally comfortable with being Spider-Man. He's got his girl, he's being praised by the media and - frankly - he gets a bit too big for his webby boots (as an aside: look at Tobey Maguire's feet when you get a chance - they're huge, man). Predictably, he gets his comeuppance, learns some valuable lessons and saves the day. So far, so summer blockbuster.

It's really the comic asides that set the movie apart. In particular, JK Simmons turns in a note-perfect performance as Peter Parker's boss at the Daily Bugle, Jonah Jameson. You'll laugh so hard the person in front of you will be washing popcorn out of their hair for weeks.

Obviously, the special effects are great (Sandman in particular). The balletic flights through New York City are still as breath-taking now as they were five years ago in the first movie. They're still really obviously computer animated, too, but you won't care a jot. Oh, and James Franco is gorgeous as Harry Osborn. Or so mrsdiscopop says...

And that is all I have to say about that.

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