Film (2007). Columbia Pictures presents a Marvel Studios/Laura Ziskin production. Directed by Sam Raimi. Written by Sam & Ivan Raimi and Alvin Sargent; story by Raimi & Raimi, based on the Marvel Comic by Stan Lee and Steve Ditko. Cast includes Elizabeth Banks, Thomas Haden Church, James Cromwell, Kirsten Dunst, James Franco, Topher Grace, Rosemary Harris, Bryce Dallas Howard, Tobey Maguire and J K Simmons. 139 minutes. Colour.
After the languid and lachrymose Spider-Man 2, this second sequel reverted to a more orthodox and kinetic Superhero formula by opening up the storyline from the previous films' single villain each to a considerably busier three, as Flint Marko/Sandman (Church) and the Harry Osborn incarnation of the Green Goblin (Franco) form shifting alliances with, and finally against, the alien symbiote Venom (see Parasitism and Symbiosis), who possesses first Peter and then his scheming career rival Eddie Brock (Grace), in an unsurprisingly convoluted storyline which also finds space to introduce rival love interest Gwen Stacy (Howard, in a subplot that runs into the sand). Like the previous films, it indulges its overqualified leads to excess, here with incongruous musical numbers and an amusing if silly display of Maguire's interpretation of a Venomized dark Peter Parker. The Sandman strand is the strongest of the three, casting one of Steve Ditko's most memorable creations (and James Cameron's original intended villain) as Ben Parker's actual assassin, with a fine redemptive character arc and some spectacular digital effects; the other storylines are less successful, but the film is far from a fiasco. Pacey and crowd-pleasing where its predecessor sagged, it made the most money of the trilogy; but the tensions and compromises revealed between the studio's and Raimi's preferred plotlines would pull the next instalment apart and see Sony ultimate forced to reboot the franchise prematurely with a new director and cast in order to retain the lucrative rights. The novelization is Spider-Man 3 (2007) by Peter David. [NL]
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