Spider-Man (2002) vs Spider-Man 2 (2004) vs Spider-Man 3 (2007)

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Movie Review written by: Born Movie Reviews
SPIDER-MAN RT Critics Rating: 8.9/10
SPIDER-MAN 2 RT Critics Rating: 9.3/10
SPIDER-MAN 3 RT Critics Rating: 6.3/10

SPIDER-MAN Born Movie Reviews' Rating: 7/10
SPIDER-MAN 2 Born Movie Reviews' Rating: 9/10
SPIDER-MAN 3 Born Movie Reviews' Rating: 5/10

SPIDER-MAN (2002) - Sam Raimi
vs
SPIDER-MAN 2 (2004) - Sam Raimi
vs
SPIDER-MAN 3 (2007) - Sam Raimi

Spider-Man is one of the most popular and commercially successful superheroes in the world of Marvel Comics. He bears super strength and agility, the ability to cling to most surfaces, shoot spider-webs, and "spider-sense," all similar traits of a real spider. His real identity is Peter Parker, a teenage high school student raised by his Aunt May and Uncle Ben, having to deal with the normal struggles of adolescence.

The film adaptation was stuck in what was called "development hell" ever since the 1980s. Before Sam Raimi, the film was originally considered to be directed by several others including Roland Emmerich (Independence Day), Tim Burton (Edward Scissorhands), Chris Columbus (Harry Potter 1 & 2), and David Fincher (Seven).

The film follows Peter Parker (Tobey Maguire) with his love interest Mary Jane Watson (Kirsten Dunst) and friend Harry Osborn (James Franco), the son of Dr. Norman Osborn (Willem Dafoe). During a field trip to a genetics lab, Peter is bitten by a genetically engineered spider, thus giving him the superpowers we know today. As we follow Peter's experience in becoming Spider-Man, Norman Osborn tests a new performance-enhancing chemical on himself. The chemical succeeds in increasing his strength, however causes Norman to develop a maniacal alter ego, the Green Goblin.

Tobey Maguire is miscast. There is no way around it. However, this does not mean he was a dreadful actor in this film. Spider-Man's greatest strength as a film is the experience development that Maguire goes through. He practices his web-slinging, his wall climbing, everything. We follow him as he slowly becomes Spider-Man. His hands are now sticky. He now bears perfect vision. The film does a pleasant job in displaying Maguire's emotional reactions to his newly given powers. Although, his powers to leap across rooftops appear too fake, with no physics nor weight. After the death of Uncle Ben, Parker's character becomes better to follow and we learn the classic moral "With great power comes great responsibility." Kirsten Dunst, James Franco, and Willem Dafoe all do not disappoint anyone who values the original comic books. Even though Mary Jane Watson was actually not the first love interest of Peter Parker, Dunst portrayed her character perfectly, though the character chemistry between Dunst and Maguire appears contrived. However, this contrivance is only present within moments of dialogue. The "upside-down kiss scene" was well-done, cinematically pleasing and brings about the right effect due to good pacing from earlier. There is not much to say about Willem Dafoe. In every movie that he is in, he pulls off another fantastic act. From Platoon to Mississippi Burning, Willem Dafoe could have been nominated for Best Supporting Actor here in Spider-Man.

The biggest flaw with Spider-Man is surprisingly, the design of the Green Goblin itself. Instead of being able to display signs of intimidation like an actual villain, the Green Goblin's "mask" is handicapped on one facial expression. The only thing we are given is Dafoe's maniacal voice, which loses its effect due to the Goblin's laughable face. The Goblin could have been a much deeper and interesting character. Here, he is one-dimensional, plain and flat. Made up of over 500 pieces, the Green Goblin was simply poorly designed, hilarious to see when punched away over a far distance, seeing his grin as he swings his arms in the air.

Sam Raimi was known for directing the Evil Dead movies. He was a horror movie director. Handing a film likeSpider-Man over to him would be a little "inadequate," would it not? Indeed. The overall atmosphere of the film still bears a sense of horror to it, a feel of delirium. However, this trivial effect could have been worse.Spider-Man could have been directed by Tim Burton instead. Raimi's true problem here is handling action sequences. None of them here are memorable nor stylish in any way. In addition, they barely build tension when they should have. Spider-Man as a whole appears to be an experimental film for Sam Raimi. He seems to have tested with this movie on what works and what does not work for an action movie. Surprisingly and pleasantly, Sam Raimi took what did work and enhanced it in the sequel Spider-Man 2.

Two years after the events of its predecessor, Spider-Man 2 focuses on Peter Parker's struggle on managing his personal life as well as his duty as Spider-Man. On the side, Dr. Otto Octavius (Alfred Molina) becomes Doctor Octopus after a failed experiment and the loss of his wife.

Unlike other superhero movies that only bear the formulaic plot of "hero vs villain," Spider-Man 2 takes the idea of superheroes to a new level by throwing our superhero into the world of reality. The film contains more than just our familiar conflict, but also a "man vs society" conflict. It effortlessly combines visual effects and a humanity story, moving both of them nicely along in parallelism. Speaking of visual effects, they are amazing here. Dock Ock's four robotic arms move with a supernatural life, reacting and responding, moving and attacking, almost like the arms themselves are characters. Combine that with a terrific performance by Alfred Molina and a fully fleshed out character within a script and Dock Ock is twice the villain the Green Goblin was in the predecessor.

Every character's personality that we have seen before become complete full circle here. Sam Raimi, with the help of screenwriter Michael Chabon, did what a sequel needs to do: Progress the familiar characters up a step. Take what we have seen before and "mature" them using a new conflict. Every good sequel in the movie industry contains this. James Cameron has done this before in the second Terminator as well as the second Aliens. Disney's Pixar has done this with the Toy Story 2 also.

Spider-Man 2 exhibits the true flaw of superhero movies. They stress on the superpowers too much, leaning away from the human characters behind them. Superman never emphasized Clark Kent once, making his appearance monotonous. Batman also never underlined Bruce Wayne. Michael Keaton was remembered as the perfect Batman, never the perfect Bruce Wayne. Many moviegoers these days now refuse to watch superhero movies. However, here, Spider-Man 2 is more than a superhero movie. It is a real movie, with cinematic qualities and a well-paced narrative, a superhero movie that will make superhero movie-haters love or perhaps yearn for.

Three years later, Sam Raimi somehow decided to add in a plethora of visual effects and remove a good story. Before I explain the movie's plot, I want to first stress that Spider-Man 3 has basically four villains total. Four villains in one movie. Spider-Man 3 follows Peter Parker and his life as Spider-Man with his girlfriend Mary Jane Watson. Harry Osborn still seeks vengeance for his father's death, and Flint Marko (Thomas Haden Church), supposedly Uncle Ben's real killer, falls into a particle accelerator that transforms him into Sandman. In addition, an extraterrestrial symbiotic crashes to Earth and bonds with Peter, forming the "Black-suit Spider-Man" and influencing his behavior negatively, creating a relationship issue among him, Mary Jane, and a new character Gwen Stacy (Bryce Dallas Howard). When Peter abandons the symbiote, it finds refuge in Eddie Brock (Topher Grace), Parker's rival photographer, creating the iconic villain Venom.

Starting with the first villain, Harry Osborn seeks revenge on Spider-Man after discovering that he was the one who was responsible for his father's death. Avenging his father, Harry is now the New Goblin. Despite his villainy design being intriguing, Harry Osborn still bears the familiar tone that we have already seen in the first movie, though this time the glider is "cooler." However, his entire character soon enough becomes contrived and also suffers from a severe plot hole.

Aunt May and Peter Parker later learn at the police station that the actual killer of Uncle Ben is Flint Marko. The authorities knew this information since Marko was in prison but somehow decided to not inform the family in the first movie. When Flint Marko escapes and falls into the particle accelerator 30 seconds before it is schedule to move sand around in circles, it appears that the scientists operating this could not buy actual security cameras to witness the experiment or block possible escapees from randomly falling in. In addition, no fences were applied either. The Sandman, again like the Green Goblin, is a one-dimensional villain. Furthermore, he appears to use his powers so quickly after gaining them. Somehow he does not need to practice, something that took Parker the entire first movie to handle and something that Octavius took the first half of the second movie to get used to. The sand powers thus are not "attached" to the human character, and he might as well remain a sand monster throughout than showing his human face. He just effortlessly uses his sand-powers of invulnerability, forming objects, and….. flying too.

Eddie Brock's character is never fleshed out and Venom appears extremely late. In fact, Venom was never shown in the theatrical trailers of the film. Even though the villain was nicely designed as the antithesis of Spider-Man, he was presented too late and was rushed too quickly. In addition, the physical appearance of Venom is a bit too minuscule, a huge disappointment for fans of the original design.

The biggest problem with Spider-Man 3 is the script. There are simply too many variables occurring. Nearly five conflicts occur at once throughout the film. It is messy and labored and forcefully squeezed through. From the words of renowned film critic Roger Ebert, "There are too many conversations and street crowds looking high into the air and shouting 'ooh!' this way, then swiveling and shouting 'aaah!' that way." The pacing and editing of the film is excessively wheezy. In a superhero movie, the film needs to develop the hero's character while developing the villain's character so they can finish in a climactic final battle. Here, there are four villains, and the film is forced to try to develop all four. This results in the movie jumping among characters two minutes per character. In the end, none of the characters are developed and we can no longer care for anybody.

In summary of comparing all three films, Spider-Man 2 is the finest one out of all. The first film is more exploratory, finding on what works and what does not. Director Sam Raimi has taken what he was skilled at previously and applied it even stronger here in the sequel. Unfortunately, he lost it all in the third film. In simple words, Spider-Man was good, Spider-Man 2 was spectacular, and Spider-Man 3 was disorganized and disappointing, despite the third being the most successful in terms of box office.

However, director Marc Webb has come along to reboot the franchise with the upcoming film The Amazing Spider-Man. Giving loyalty to the original comic book's name, The Amazing Spider-Man appears to tell the other side of Peter Parker's story, a re-adaptation of Raimi's trilogy. Replacing Maguire as Parker is Andrew Garfield, previously seen The Social Network and replacing Dunst as the lead female is Emma Stone as Gwen Stacy, previously portrayed by Howard. However, it has been only five years since Spider-Man 3 was released. Is it really necessary to "remake" it now? Hopefully "The Untold Story" will prove us wrong. What I am seeking the most in July from The Amazing Spider-Man is Andrew Garfield. His performance in Social Network was astonishing and I am curious to see how he will deal with Peter Parker, hopefully better than Tobey Maguire, because even though he tried his best, he "bugged" me, pun intended.





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