By Marc Bernardin
Updated November 02, 2007 at 04:00 AM EDT
Spider-Man 3

Yoda said it best: ”Beware of the dark side. Anger, fear, aggression; the dark side of the Force are they. Easily they flow, quick to join you in a fight.” Spider-Man 3 showed us Peter Parker (Tobey Maguire) giving in to the dark side — in the form of a parasitic black unitard from outer space. In Spidey’s universe, the nefarious force doesn’t create Darth Vader-y intergalactic despots, though. It just makes a guy tart up like the bassist for Green Day and dance, dance, dance! And that illustrates how Spider-Man 3 went off the rails. Despite its melancholy pomp, nothing was as deadly serious as it should’ve been.

Chalk it up to an avalanche of circumstance: Some alien black goo hits earth mere feet from Peter and Mary Jane (Kirsten Dunst) and latches onto our hero; Flint Marko (Thomas Haden Church) just happens to stumble through a crazy science experiment so he can become the Sandman; when Peter finally decides that the evil goo suit is ruining his life, he sheds it in a church bell tower — the same church that his professional rival, Eddie Brock (Topher Grace), just happens to walk into. Viewers are more than happy to swallow the impossible (radioactive spider powers), but not the improbable (the villain’s girlfriend is a police captain’s daughter, who happens to be Peter’s lab partner).

With Spider-Man 3, director Sam Raimi finally fell into the same trap that ensnared the Batman films for so long: too many bad guys, too many subplots, too much…everything. If only the DVD itself could make the same claim. It’s another one of those bloated two-disc editions that just serve as a catchall for hours upon hours of footage: tepid mini making-of documentaries, a pair of ho-hum cast-and-crew commentary tracks, a blooper reel, and a Snow Patrol music video. (In all fairness, the bloopers are genuinely funny, especially J.K. Simmons’ profane foul-ups as J. Jonah Jameson.)

There’s some fun stuff in Spider-Man 3 — Raimi can still tap into the well of action-cinema whizbang he plumbed for films like Evil Dead 2 — but the entire enterprise would’ve benefited from a little good old-fashioned dark-side abandon. C+

Spider-Man 3

  • Movie
  • PG-13
  • 139 minutes
  • Sam Raimi