‘Oh what a tangled web we weave when first we practice to deceive.’ Writer/director Sam Raimi’s third and (alleged) final film outing with the New York dwelling arachnid superhero is a hit and miss affair which still manages to contain some of the best sequences of any of the trilogy. Peter Parker (Tobey Maguire) is happy in his relationship with Mary Jane (Kirsten Dunst finally surpassing mad Margot Kidder’s Lois Lane as the ultimate superhero girlfriend). But the fact that the denizens of New York City love Spidey has gone to Parker’s head. Believing the hype, he turns into an egotistical brat who starts to take Mary Jane for granted. The sticky patch gets worse when Spidey is given a gothic makeover that brings out the rebel in him. He comes on like a walking, strutting Tony Manero from Saturday Night Fever (a nod to the era that Stan Lee and Steve Ditko’s original comics were written in) and all hell breaks loose.
And now for the bad news. Spider-Man 3 is overloaded with villains. Sandman (Thomas Hayden Church) and Venom (Topher Grace) join the second Green Goblin who is aptly named The New Goblin (James Franco). By far the worst character is Sandman who lacks the motivation to be evil while his backstory involving the murder of Uncle Ben needlessly rewrites past history. Cementing these structural problems are some rather overdone visual effects (the absence of FX maestro John Dykstra is all too evident in this film). This being a finale of sorts the tying up of all the loose webbing involves more dénouements and false endings than The Lord of the Rings: The Return of the King. Suffering from many of the recurrent problems of blockbuster sequels Spider-Man 3 is an engaging if ultimately disappointing finale.