Robert Farley, writing at Tapped, has an excellent review of the new Spider-Man movie. I think he perfectly summarizes the film’s good points and bad points. He makes the point, exactly right in my opinion, that it’s not that Spider-Man III is unusually bad, it’s that Spider-Man II was unusually good. I’ve placed two excerpts below the fold:
I suspect that much of the negativity about the third film stems from how poorly it stands up to the second. I think that we have an Empire Strikes Back problem. Thinking people everywhere understand that Empire was, by far, the best of the original Star Wars trilogy. Jedi appears to be a weak entry in large part because of the strength of the second film, but Empire is the real outlier. Similarly, Spiderman III really isn’t any worse than the first Spiderman flick. The problem is that Spiderman II was much, much better than it had any right being. One of my favorite scenes from the second movie comes when Ursula (Peter Parker’s next door neighbor) brings him some milk and cake. He accepts, and they sit down and eat the cake. It’s a complex, interesting, understated, and generally outstanding scene, but what struck me as most notable is that it had no business whatsoever appearing in a summer popcorn blockbuster. For whatever reason, Spiderman II, like Empire, transcended the form. A repeat performance was too much to expect. Nevertheless, there were some genuine problems with the execution of Spiderman III.
Each approach has its merits, and Spiderman’s focus on smaller problems (street crime, saving babies from fires, etc.) is probably more true to the ethos of the character than some grand fight against ideologically driven supervillains. It’s Superman (who I believe is an illegal alien) who has always been burdened with the ideological baggage. Of Batman I have little to say. Anyway, the critics are correct to say that Spiderman III is overlong and has some serious structural flaws. Nevertheless, I found the film entertaining, and I think that there’s still some value in exploring the Spiderman character.