Once more Sam Raimi is directing Stan Lee and Steve Ditko's comic-book creation, and you can almost feel his fatigue. Somewhere between that first joyous woo-hoo and this movie, Raimi and the revolving door of writers became too enamored of making Spider-Man movies in which the hero is but a bit player. And the franchise's heartfelt earnestness -- its calling card -- now feels forced. The relationship between Peter Parker (Tobey Maguire) and Mary Jane Watson (Kirsten Dunst) has ground to a standstill; that passionate upside-down, rain-soaked kiss from the first film feels like a thousand movies ago. It's just all so . . . Fantastic Four -- so dopey and forgettable. The interesting villains have been replaced by computer-generated leftovers, chief among them Thomas Haden Church's Flint Marko, a felon whose shape is shifted by an atom-scrambler that renders him the Sandman, and Venom, who's really just alien goo that inhabits Eddie Brock (a wasted Topher Grace), Peter's rival at The Daily Bugle. Venom -- like every other character fighting for face time in an overplotted picture -- is barely in the film, here only so he and Sandman can face off with lil' Goblin (James Franco) and Spidey in a finale so slapdash and silly, it wouldn't even pass muster in a comic book.
Sam RaimiTobey Maguire, Kirsten Dunst, James Franco, Thomas Haden Church, Topher Grace, Bryce Dallas Howard, James Cromwell, Rosemary Harris, J.K. Simmons, Dylan BakerSteve Ditko, Stan LeeJoseph M. CaraccioloSony Pictures