Spiderman was a terrific film. It came at a time when most comic book/superhero movies were never that great. Of course, in recent years that has changed with solid films such as Batman Begins and X-Men 2. There are a couple reasons that the first Spiderman movie worked. One was Sam Raimi’s direction. Previous to the Spiderman franchise, I knew some of Raimi’s work, the alright Darkman movie, and the excellent Evil Dead trilogy (in fact the star of the Evil Dead films, Bruce Campbell has a cameo in each film). Raimi got Spiderman right, but more importantly, he got Peter Parker right. He realized that a masked superhero fighting evil is not a film. But the man behind the mask is what is truly interesting. Also, Raimi never took it way too seriously, he understood he was making what some may call silly movies. Raimi displayed this with frequent jokes and light content, which did a lot to add to the believability. If Spiderman was put in a true to life environment, he would look stupid, so the New York in the films is really a comic book version of itself. The other reason Spiderman worked was because of the actors. Tobey Macguire, an actor I do not think too highly of, was actually perfect as Spiderman. Furthermore, Kirsten Dunst was great as Mary Jane, and James Franco was the right man to play Harry Osborn. What also added to the movie was the villain and the actor who played him, Willem Dafoe. A new standard was set for creating a villain that was comic book-y yet realistic, which is no easy task.
Spiderman 2 was much, much better. It improved in every area possible and told a more personal story about Peter Parker. From start to finish it was flawless and even had a better villain in Doc Ock. Spiderman 3 is a very good film, with some of the best moments in the series. But each villain lacks the realism of the previous Spiderman enemies. The scenes meant to be serious sometimes come off silly. In fact, the whole movie seems much more cartoonish. New coming players are Topher Grace (That 70’s Show) as Eddie Brock/Venom and Bryce Dallas Howard (The Village, Lady in the Water) as Gwen Stacy. Grace is fine as Brock but once he gets all venomish he fails miserably. I even found myself suffering from secondary embarrassment with some of his line deliveries. Bryce Dallas Howard has a much smaller role than I expected and I was very disappointed, as I was hoping for her to shake up the story a little.
Don’t get me wrong, I really enjoyed this movie. This is the funniest of the three movies easily. However, in the first two, the humour was complimentary, this time it is the highlight. It’s all good and fun, but it should have taken a backseat to a great story. Another shortcoming is the predictable ending that fails to match the drama of the previous entries of Spiderman. The personal story about Parker is very interesting as well as satisfying. Like I said, Spiderman 3 is a very good movie, and as far as superhero movies in history, this one ranks pretty high. If this was what the first one was like, we all would have been satisfied. But since then, the bar keeps raising. And, unfortunately this is the third movie, and among all the great superhero films we have seen recently, Spiderman 3 is just average.