Steve Daly
May 04, 2007 AT 04:00 AM EDT

Spider-Man 3

Current Status
In Season
139 minutes
Wide Release Date
Kirsten Dunst, Tobey Maguire, Thomas Haden Church, James Franco, Topher Grace
Sam Raimi
Columbia Pictures
Ivan Raimi, Sam Raimi, Alvin Sargent
Sci-fi and Fantasy, ActionAdventure

We gave it a B-

It’s Saturday, March 31, and Sam Raimi’s been working in a suite of production offices on the Sony lot in L.A. since early morning. At this very late date, he and a postproduction team are racing to finalize the music score, the sound mix, and more than two dozen CG effects shots. He has only four days left to finish in time for Sony to churn out the thousands of copies that must unspool worldwide in early May (the 4th in North America).

Raimi smushes his bangs down on his forehead with his hand, his skin sallow from lack of sunlight. ”We need more time to complete the effects. But we can’t have it.” Although he’s wearing his customary jacket and necktie — a sign of respect for film craft, he always says — the tie is loose, his collar is unbuttoned, and he’s caveman-unshaven. ”We’re trying to get as many changes and fixes in as we can before they yank the negative out of my hands,” he says. ”And they’ve been yanking.”

How did Raimi spend 33 months making a film with a megabudget and still end up frantic to finish? By pushing like crazy to up the ante. You think that runaway-elevated-train sequence in Spider-Man 2 was complex? Spidey 3 has an underground subway fight, an airborne battle, and a five-way main-character showdown finale set at a skyscraper construction site. You liked the villain in 2? Raimi and Co. piled on a trio of baddies this time. No wonder the director felt a sense of vertigo when the release-date start gun first went off on the third movie in summer 2004.

”At that point, you’ve been released from the airplane,” he says. ”You’ve got a bag of silk, a needle and thread, and a long fall in front of you. The question is, Can you design a parachute in time?”

This is an excerpt from the EW Summer Movie Preview cover story on Spider-Man 3; click here to read the full feature.

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