A lot or a little?
The parents' guide to what's in this movie.
What parents need to know
Parents need to know that, like its two predecessors, Spider-Man 3 is a comic book-based movie that features lots of action and superhero-style violence. In this installment, a mysterious black goo makes Peter/Spider-Man significantly more aggressive, arrogant, and combative -- even toward his friends -- which could confuse little kids who have clear ideas about their hero. His negative behavior culminates in him physically harming two people he loves (naturally, he redeems himself by the end). Thanks to the enormous amount of Spidey merchandise and marketing, younger children may want to see this movie -- but know that the action might be too intense for the early-elementary set. (Spoiler Alert: Two characters die during the climactic battle sequence.)
What's the story?
In SPIDER-MAN 3, Peter (Tobey Maguire) and Mary Jane (Kirsten Dunst) are finally together, and things seem idyllic until Harry (James Franco) attacks Spider-Man in an impressive airborne fight. Harry is nearly felled; when he regains consciousness, he can't remember that Peter is his archenemy. But Spidey's problems are far from over. Parasitic black ooze attaches itself to Peter and creates a black Spider-Man suit that exaggerates the webcrawler's aggressiveness, hostility, and even attraction to the opposite sex. His ego swells and he flirts with smitten classmate Gwen (Bryce Dallas Howard) to make MJ jealous. Peter's newly discovered dark side drives Mary Jane away and inspires self-absorbed Daily Bugle photographer Eddie Brock (Topher Grace) to capture Spidey's bad behavior on camera. When the steroid-like goo lands on Eddie, he transforms into Venom, the film's second super-nemesis. The third villain this time around is prison escapee Flint Marko (Thomas Haden Church), who morphs into the Sandman in a technically remarkable scene. Sandman, unlike Venom, has a heart. He just wants money to save his sick little girl -- if only Spidey would get out of his way. An alliance between Sandman and Venom leads to a climactic four-way battle scene set along the Manhattan skyline.
Is it any good?
People who see superhero movies just for thrills and chills will find plenty of reasons to love this sequel. But fans seeking Spider-Man 2's unforgettable combination of action, story, and heart will be disappointed in the franchise's third installment.
There's now no doubt that Spider-Man 2's emotional depth must have been prolific author/comic-book lover Michael Chabon's contribution to the screenplay. The latest script -- co-written by director Sam Raimi, his brother Ivan Raimi, and Alvin Sargent -- just doesn't match its predecessor's level of excitement and romance. But while the action is striking, with all the sand blowing, web flinging, and characters flying, all the CGI wonders can't save Spider-Man 3's overlong, underdeveloped story from falling a bit short of super.
Talk to your kids about ...
Families can talk about the Spider-Man movie series. Which of these larger-than-life films do you consider the best? What's more important in superhero movies -- the action or the story?
Families can also discuss the movie's major themes: character transformation, revenge, and redemption. Which characters experience the biggest changes? Do they change for better or for worse? How can you tell?
How does seeking revenge prove futile for both Harry and Peter?
- In theaters: May 3, 2007
- On DVD or streaming: October 30, 2007
- Cast: James Franco, Kirsten Dunst, Tobey Maguire
- Director: Sam Raimi
- Studio: Columbia Tristar
- Genre: Action/Adventure
- Topics: Magic and Fantasy, Superheroes, Adventures, Book Characters, Great Boy Role Models, Misfits and Underdogs, Science and Nature
- Run time: 140 minutes
- MPAA rating: PG-13
- MPAA explanation: sequences of intense action violence.
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Common Sense Media's unbiased ratings are created by expert reviewers and aren't influenced by the product's creators or by any of our funders, affiliates, or partners.