It’s a short time later and Peter Parker (Tobey Maguire) and Mary Jane Watson (Kirsten Dunst) are together and happy. But as Mary Jane’s career begins to fall apart and Peter’s alter ego of Spider-Man is more popular than ever, their love begins to falter. Peter’s head begins to swell and lack of communication between the two draws them further apart. To make matters worse, an alien symbiote has found its way to Earth and takes a liking to Peter, giving him enhanced abilities as well as enhanced emotions. With Mary Jane frustrated with him, his best friend Harry (James Franco) out to kill him and a criminal with the ability to control sand (Thomas Haden Church) rampaging through the city, Peter’s emotions are high and it leads to trouble.
Now, I want to get this out of the way right now: This is not a good movie. In fact, I don’t think any of the movies in this series are what you could call “good.” This one, however, entertains me far beyond what either of the first two accomplished. This movie has a very sorted history behind it, with the studio forcing changes the director and the writers didn’t care for. Ultimately what came out was a disgruntled, jumbled mess of different people’s ideas, none of which really fit together well. It almost feels like director Sam Raimi knew this movie wasn’t going to turn out good, so instead of just muscling through it he had fun with it and just screwed around with the producers. This creates a lot of “so-bad-it’s-good” moments, and those mixed with action sequences far surpassing its predecessors makes it a very fun ride for me.
This movie is the longest of the three but it actually feels like the shortest. It spends most of its time on the characters, as the others did, but it’s far more light-hearted and fast-paced. I love the complexities of Mary Jane, with her not being able to find happiness struggling between a shaky career and dating an egotistical superhero. Kirsten Dunst gives a much better performance than she had in the previous films and it helps to bring more emotion to her character. I feel like Tobey Maguire gave his best performance of the series as well, needing to show a lot more emotion due to the symbiote and delivering rather well. They do a lot of fun, silly things with Peter when he’s infected and all of it is interesting and entertaining to watch. I just love how completely self-centered and oblivious to those around him he gets, not realizing that he’s making a complete fool of himself and hurting both mentally and physically the ones he loves.
I really love the type of action used for these movies, stylized and big, using their surroundings to attack and dodge. This installment does this as much as possible and does it well, with Spidey fighting Sandman in a subway being a highlight. The tightness of it all makes the tension high and the fact that both characters involved are basically unstoppable allows them to be as harsh as possible.
The biggest problem I find with this series is that it never captured the reason we love Spider-Man: He’s a relatable everyman who is able to be a wise-cracking superhero and loves what he does. The first two movies were all about him moping about all the things he can’t do and this one finally shows him enjoying himself. And when he does get around to moping it’s all about stuff that he legitimately should feel bad about because he’s been acting like a terrible person. a lot of people really hound on this movie but I say if you’ve been avoiding it, check it out and remember to relax.