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Spider-Man 3


Stars: Tobey Maguire, Kirsten Dunst, James Franco, Thomas Haden Church, Topher Grace, James Cromwell, Bryce Dallas Howard, Willem Dafoe

Director: Sam Raimi

Oh no! Peter Parker's gone over to the dark side. Well, they had to think of something different for this high-flying end (?) to the trilogy. And it's not really poor Peter's fault. A leech-like substance of sticky black streamers emerges from an asteroid and attaches itself to him while he sleeps, turning his red suit into a black one.

Two events - the man who killed his uncle escapes from jail, and his friend and rival Harry (Franco) forces girlfriend MJ (Dunst) to dump him - fill Peter (Maguire) with hatred and revenge. He becomes arrogant and aggressive, exposing a duplicitous photographer (Grace), who will become a dangerous enemy when the 'black mass' comes his way.

Meanwhile, uncle's killer (Church), trapped in an experimental pit, becomes a truly original villain called The Sandman.

Full of cliffhanger moments, the groaningly long film offers the usual Spider-Man mix of spectacular action set pieces and dull bits. Characters suddenly reappear after they had seemed dead. Spidey loses MJ, gets her back and loses her again, and even poses briefly, but patriotically, against a fluttering Stars and Stripes.

Maguire has developed a slightly unfortunate jawline, which makes him an even less likely hero, and only Church and J K Simmons (as Parker's barking editor on The Bugle) actually look like characters out of a comic book. And the makers bungle a segment where Dunst loses her job in a stage musical, as her voice is clearly superior to that of the girl being prepped in her place.

Still, none of this will matter to fans. 'It's hard to believe what's happening,' gasps a dreadful British actress playing a TV reporter, as superheroes and supervillains duke it out over New York - but Spidey addicts will swallow the potion whole, as their guy's aerial adventures are more impressively staged than ever.

Don't make for the exits too soon, though. The film has several endings one after the other. Clue: it is all over when the thin lady sings.

David Quinlan

USA 2007. UK Distributor: Sony (Columbia). Colour.
139 minutes. Widescreen. UK certificate: 12A.

Guidance ratings (out of 3): Sex/nudity 0, Violence/Horror 1, Drugs 0, Swearing 0.

Review date: 29 Apr 2007