Back in black: Spider-Man gets a style makeover in summer's first blockbuster, but the result is less than Marvel-ous.
Back in black: Spider-Man gets a style makeover in summer's first blockbuster, but the result is less than Marvel-ous. Columbia Pictures
Aren't we done yet? When a superhero franchise leans as regularly as this one does on its characters' emotions and back-stories, maybe it's predictable that by Episode Three it'll become an effects-laden As the Web Turns. But at 141 minutes, this supe-opera is seriously overextended, with four distinct subplots and way too much hand-wringing over things like the heroine's singing career. Spidey's got a dark side, Harry's got amnesia, Mary Jane's a pill, Sandman's misunderstood, and Venom's — well, Venom's a mess of black goo. But it's hard to gin up much suspense when your supposedly vulnerable hero can get hit by a moving train and bounce off unhurt. Director Sam Raimi shoots everything but the big effects sequences in close-up, presumably so the movie'll look good when it gets played on cell phones in a few weeks. And he visualizes Aunt May's observation that "revenge is like a poison that can ... turn us into something ugly" by turning Peter Parker into a smarmy Eurotrash version of John Travolta in Saturday Night Fever. It's a good thing the effects are state-of-the-art.