‘Spider-Man 3’ spins web of entertainment

Maggie Nepomuceno

Good things come in threes and apparently so do summer blockbusters. Three seems to be the key number this summer with the third part of three trilogies all being released this month. The much anticipated releases of “Shrek the Third,” “Pirates of the Caribbean 3,” and “Spider-Man 3” have got people in the movie industry buzzing that this could be a record-breaking season at the box office. Our friendly neighborhood spider kicks off the summer with visual brilliance and web-tingling action sequences in the long-awaited “Spider-Man 3.”

“I’ve come a long way from the boy being bit by a spider,” Peter Parker (Tobey Maguire) says as the film opens. And he certainly has. Since acquiring his spider-like reflexes, we’ve seen Peter alter-ego Spider-Man defeat the Green Goblin and Dr. Octopus, save New York City from disaster after disaster and win the love of Mary Jane Watson (Kirsten Dunst).

When Peter left us last, his best friend Harry Osborn (James Franco) had discovered his duplicitous identity as Spider-Man, the person he deems responsible for the death of his father, aka the Green Goblin. Out for vengeance, Harry emerges as the New Goblin serving as one of three, yes three, villains that Peter Parker/Spider-Man must battle this time around.

In other matters, Peter boasts promising developments in his life; his relationship with Mary Jane seems to be headed toward marriage, while his alter-ego Spider-Man has developed into an icon and hero to the city of New York. Mary Jane, on the other hand, is struggling as an actress and can’t relate to Peter’s sense of self-confidence. Surrounded by the spotlight and parades in his honor, his overdose of hubris gets the best of him and Mary Jane as he basks in the glow of praise and worship.

Subsequently, a mysterious black substance that feeds off negative energy latches itself to our hero, sending both Peter and Spider-Man into a dark and twisted descent of revenge and aggression. The new “emo” Peter Parker arrogantly struts around town with his hair swept over his eyes, twiddling his fingers at women as he passes complete with cheesy musical backing. The sequence, reminiscent of the “Raindrops Keep Falling on My Head” bit in “Spider-Man 2,” is already silly and awkward enough, but then it is capped off by an insufferable dance number at a night club between Peter and Gwen Stacy (Bryce Dallas Howard) in an attempt to make Mary Jane jealous. Ultimately failing to entertain or to provide any substance to the plot, the scene is better suited on the cutting room floor.

These few setbacks aside, the film gives us plenty else to be entertained by including the addition of two new villains, Sandman and Venom, who conveniently coincide with the lives of both Spider-Man and Peter Parker. Escaped criminal Flint Marko (Thomas Haden Church) only wants to get the money to help his sick daughter, but while running from the police, he lands himself in the middle of a science experiment which transforms him into the Sandman. With his abilities to morph himself either into a sandstorm or a colossal hulk, he is a natural nemesis for Spider-Man. However, when Peter discovers that Flint, not the man that he killed in the first film, may have been the one responsible for his Uncle Ben’s death, not the man he supposed and killed in the first film, Flint poses an even greater threat for Peter sparking perilous feelings of revenge.

Then there is Eddie Brock (Topher Grace), a rival photographer who will do anything, including defaming the reputation of Spider-Man, to beat Peter out of a full-time staff job at the Daily Bugle. When the same black substance that has plagued Spider-Man gets a hold of Eddie, he transforms into the deadly Venom.

With so many different and seemingly disjointed story strands, the film barely brings everything together by the end. Unfortunately, neither the stories of Eddie nor Flint have enough time to flesh out. Yet it’s not that the film isn’t long enough (it runs approximately two and a half hours); the problem lies in that there is too much going on in that time.

But what the film lacks in plot, it makes up for in visual graphics. The movie makes the most of its reported $250 million budget with amazingly spectacular action sequences and impressive use of CGI. A four-way battle at the end of the movie will leave audiences begging for more Spider-Man movies, but it is an early battle between the New Goblin and Spider-Man that is most entertaining. Its stunning depiction of frenzy mixed with a fluid feeling of vertigo creates a sequence captivating to watch.

“Spider-Man 3,” like the first two installments, sustains the perfect balance of real-life action and comic book antics. True to form, it will surely please comic book fans while also providing an emotional foundation for its audiences. The film doesn’t offer any cliffhangers, but it does leave us with a bittersweet ending to what could be the last installment of the Spider-Man franchise. This is the film that audiences have been waiting for, and if it means anything, at least this Spidey fan is pleased.