The Marvel comics hero returns for more high-flying fun in this third instalment in the series. Peter Parker (Tobey Maguire) is up to his usual Spidey tricks, attending university classes as an awkward geek, then quickly slipping into his red-and-blue suit to save New York City from various villains. And there are villains aplenty. Thomas Hayden Church blows in as the Sandman, an escaped convict whose molecular structure is destroyed in a particle accelerator. The freak accident gives him the ability to form and reform from piles of dust. While the Sandman sifts through the city streets robbing banks, Spidey must also contend with his onetime friend, Harry (James Franco), who has taken up where his father, the Green Goblin, left off. Harry chases Spider-Man down on his goblin glider, hurling pumpkin bombs. But Spider-Man's biggest battle is perhaps within himself, when he is taken over by meteorite ooze--a substance that gives him great power, but also turns him into a vengeful, selfish person. Throw into the mix Peter's new competition at the Daily Bugle--the ambitious, sneaky Eddie Brock (Topher Grace)--and Peter's relationship troubles with Mary Jane (Kirsten Dunst), and SPIDER-MAN 3 weaves a tangled web indeed.
Director Sam Raimi's playful style and his delightfully campy screenplay hold true to the spirit of the Stan Lee comics, and he does an excellent job of hitting all the right superhero notes. Raimi has created an action film that is a feast for the eyes, but comes with fully rounded characters and a moving moral lesson to boot. The special effects are astounding, but Raimi makes sure the film isn't all action and no talk--he makes Peter's struggle a human one, and one that we can all relate to, regardless of our web-spinning ability.