As a huge Spider-Man fan, I generally come out of these films with a rosy-colored vision of what I just saw. I had strong positive feelings about Spider-Man 3 when I first saw it, but with subsequent viewings, the truth came forth. It is not a good movie.
Thing is Spider-Man 3 does have some positives to it. It is not as God awful as some have made it out to be. Yes, the negatives overwhelm what is good here, but there are some examples.
Specifically, the action scenes are inventive and strong, with CGI that is still decent, especially those effects dealing with the Sandman (Thomas Haden Church). The final battle in the third act was emotional and filled with dramatic images.
I think all three villains involved here were done well. Not only Sandman, but Eddie Brock aka Venom (Topher Grace) and Harry Osborn aka New Goblin (James Franco). However, there really was not enough room for all three in this film. I could only imagine that Venom alone would have been enough for the film. Or maybe they could have still used New Goblin as they did to set up his redemption for his past mistakes while focusing on Venom more.
The inclusion of Sandman, while visually impressive, was narratively weak. I did not like tying Sandman to the death of Uncle Ben and that whole plot felt tacked on and did not deliver the emotional wallop that it could have. The Sandman was a wildly inconsistent character as well. He went from criminal just trying to steal money to help his daughter to murderous, rampaging monster out for blood to empathic anti-hero sorry for his involvement in Ben’s death. Anything positive from before went out the window when Sandman joined up with Venom to kill Spider-Man. It made no sense in the thematic tale they had been telling.
And, of course, one of the worst scenes in all of comic book movies was dancing Peter, over taken by the anger of the black suit, takes Gwen Stacy (Bryce Dallas Howard) out to a jazz club to rub it in the nose of Mary Jane (Kirsten Dunst), who had just broken up with Peter. The piano playing, dancing Peter Parker was just such a weird choice that it devastated the reasonably powerful ending of the scene where Peter realizes that he had lost control of himself because of the black suit.
The relationship between Peter and Mary Jane, which was a strength in the first two Spider-Man movies, was a total flop here. Neither of them were honest with each other. They were both selfish and needlessly jealous. There was no sign of the love that we had gotten from before. It was an annoying addition to the plot and, of course, MJ turned into nothing more than a damsel in distress and someone to be kidnapped by the villains.
J. Jonah Jameson (J.K. Simmons) was wasted, used strictly now for a few stray laughs. James Cromwell played Captain Stacy, Gwen’s father and police chief, but I had honestly forgotten he was in this movie since Captain Stacy does nothing in this movie. I am not sure if he was being set up for a further role in the potential future of the series, but this could have been played by anyone.
While I have seen worse Spider-Man movies, Spider-Man 3 was a huge step down from one of the best Spider-Man movies ever, Spider-Man 2. Sam Raimi’s direction did not feel as tight as it had been in the previous two films and One could only wonder if the film was supposed to feature all of the characters that it did.
Hopefully, Sam Raimi will have more success dealing with a large cast in next summer’s Dr. Strange and the Multiverse of Madness.
Spider-Man 3 was a financial success, but has found its place among the weaker of the Spider-Man flicks. What gems here are clouded by too much excess and unneeded garbage.