PEOPLE's critic takes on Tobey and Kirsten's latest tangled web

By Leah Rozen
Updated May 01, 2007 06:00 AM
Credit: Columbia Pictures

After avoiding a sophomore slump with the splendid Spider-Man 2, cowriter-director Sam Raimi runs smack into a junior jinx. While not awful, Spider-Man 3 is nowhere near as compelling as its glorious predecessors. Then again, neither was The Godfather: Part III, Die Hard: With a Vengeance or Batman Forever. Third acts are hard to pull off, even for a superhero.

The basic problem with S-M 3 is that to cover up the fact that there’s not much vital story left to tell involving nerdy Peter Parker (Tobey Maguire), aka Spider-Man, and lady love Mary Jane Watson (Kirsten Dunst), the movie piles on way too much. There are four villains (counting some black slimy goo), all intent on attacking Spider-Man, and an attractive blond (Bryce Dallas Howard) making eyes at him. There is an amusing sequence where Peter, under the sway of that black goo, becomes hipper and more aggressive (trading in his red and blue Spidey costume for a chic black and gray one).

But much of the movie is merely marking time in between hyperkinetic special effects sequences. Unlike the first two films, this latest one don’t mean a thing and it ain’t got that swing.