I generally try to avoid reading reviews before I see a film, but since I won't be reviewing Spider-Man 3 and I know Todd McCarthy doesn't deal in spoilers, I clicked in to see what the Variety film critic had to say about the most recent chapter in Sam Raimi's arachno-tastic action series -- and the guy had some pretty rough things to say about the movie. His main complaint seems to be that the flick is too broad, too comic-booky, and perhaps beholden to a rather underwhelming screenplay. Praise for Topher Grace and Thomas Haden Church, but an unsatisfactory grade for screenwriter Alvin Sargent -- and when discussing the scenes between Peter Parker and the female leads, the critic uses the words "dull" and "unimaginative." Yikes.

"After the significant improvement of the second installment over the first, new entry reps a roughly equivalent dip in quality and enjoyment, with Spidey now giving off the faint odor of running on fumes," says Mr. McCarthy. He also feels the SM3 plot "would have proven more satisfactory for a late '60s cartoon-hero TV show than for a new-century blockbuster." He praises the action scenes and the special effects, but feels the whole crew is just sort of going through the motions at this point. Just one guy's opinion, of course, but McC seems to make some pretty valid points in his review. I just don't know if I'll agree with those points until after I see the flick for myself.

Expect Mr. McCarthy's rather negative review to get a lot of angry comments over on the Spider-Man 3 Rotten Tomatoes page. (He already has 23!) AP film critic Christy Lemire got a whole bunch of nasty comments (172!) after having the audacity to express an early (and negative) opinion of that crazy 300 flick, which just goes to show you how "important" critics are when it comes to the inevitable blockbusters. Then again, McCarthy didn't like Pirates 2, which I loved, and therefore Spider-Man 3 could still rock.