The syrup is provided by Christopher Young whose score nearly ruins the movie. At the beginning it’s annoying but excusable, but near the end when one character forgives another, the would-be poignant moment is ruined by the emotions-dictating music intruding right on cue.
The molasses is provided not just by the sticky alien symbiote but by the editor and probably the screenwriters, who keep the movie as slow and boring as possible. This effect is produced despite the first few minutes randomly cutting from character to character like a soap opera that keeps tabs on multiple characters without logical transitions. (The first act of Batman Begins is still a clinic on maintaining continuity between short scenes that aren’t even chronological.) Thus it establishes a three-ring circus’ lack of focus from the beginning, long before Eddie Brock is even introduced in the second act.
The best part of the movie, undoubtedly, is the first emergence of Sandman like the creation of Adam formed from the dust. It deserves appreciation as a short film in its own right that, without a word of dialogue or human acting, conveys more emotion than the rest of the film put together. Too bad it’s over within the first fifteen minutes.
The character best served by the film is Harry Osborne, whose dedication to the franchise has finally paid off in the form of more screen time after his disappointing role in Spider-Man 2 was made worse with one-note acting. But finally James Franco has been given a chance to demonstrate his breadth as his character doesn’t merely return to his personality in the first movie but shows a completely new side of him.
Unfortunately Kirsten Dunst doesn’t halt the trajectory of the last movie but is, impossible though it may seem, actually less attractive than she was in Spider-Man 2. In the first sequel she merely looked like a drowned rat, but in the new one there’s no doubt her groomers were instructed to make her look as unattractive as possible in order to heighten the contrast between her and Gwen Stacy, most obvious in the scene at the French restaurant.
Words are insufficient to describe Gwen. Among the movie’s stars Bryce Dallas Howard is simply the sun: whenever she’s in view you can’t even see them.
The movie ought to be called “Peter Parker 3” because Spider-Man is rarely in it. I know everyone says the Spidey movies are so good because they focus on characters first and action second, however Spider-Man 2 was not only dramatically superior to 1 and 3 but it also had two of the best superpowered fights ever filmed. Spider-Man 2 retained the visual brightness of the first movie, which I used to feel were collectively just a bit too colorful (unlike the carefully limited palettes of Batman Begins and Superman Returns) but now, when compared to the visual darkness which makes the action so difficult to follow in the new film, the action in Spider-Man 2 remains superior simply because you can see it.
The result is that the best action sequence in Spider-Man 3 doesn’t involve him fighting any villains but only rescuing a falling girl early in the film — simply because it’s during the day. It is exceptional because most of the film takes place at night, which achieves both a thematic and a practical: visually it reflects the hero’s psychological descent into darkness assisted by the black alien symbiote, but it also helps to disguise the extensive digital effects employed in the action sequences.
The first two acts of the movie are the most fun, if only in contrast to the tedium of the last act. The final obligatory fight between all the characters is both huge and a huge disappointment, and venerable Los Angeles anchorman Hal Fishman’s incredibly un-Fishman-like delivery as a New York newsreader adds to the cheese rather than the tension of the proceedings.
Therefore (for me) the battle royal achieved interest primarily as an image of metacinema, in which an audience like us of entertained bystanders watch the fight which is itself filmed and televised for the world to see on screens, reflecting the movie’s global same-day release. However both X-Men 3 and Superman Returns already depicted similar images of theater more subtly and innovatively.
I don’t necessarily look forward to a fourth installment by the same filmmakers because I doubt they have another Spider-Man 2 in them, but since Sony is intent on milking their spider to death (so to speak) we can only hope that the Lizard will finally rear his ugly and much-teased head.
But I don’t think a Spider-Man 4 would be the unqualified financial success that Sony seems to think it would be, because in franchises the first weekend’s box office is always a reflection of the public’s approval of the previous installment: thus the record-breaking hauls of The Matrix Reloaded and Pirates of the Caribbean 2.
Accordingly I predict that The Dark Knight will double the opening box office of Batman Begins, but Spider-Man 4 would be lucky to earn half that of its predecessor. After achieving practically instantaneous saturation point, expect a huge second-week drop-off for Spider-Man 3 as ambivalent word of mouth spreads.