Time: 139 Minutes
Tobey Maguire as Peter Parker/Spider-Man
James Franco as Harry Osborn/New Goblin
Kirsten Dunst as Mary Jane Watson
Thomas Haden Church as Flint Marko/Sandman
Topher Grace as Eddie Brock/Venom
Bryce Dallas Howard as Gwen Stacy
Rosemary Harris as May Parker
J. K. Simmons as J. Jonah Jameson
James Cromwell as George Stacy
Director: Sam Rami
Peter Parker (Tobey Maguire) and M.J. (Kirsten Dunst) seem to finally be on the right track in their complicated relationship, but trouble looms for the superhero and his lover. Peter’s Spider-Man suit turns black and takes control of him, not only giving Peter enhanced power but also bringing out the dark side of his personality. Peter must overcome the suit’s influence as two supervillains, Sandman (Thomas Haden Church) and Venom (Topher Grace), rise up to destroy him and all those he holds dear.
Spider-Man 3 unlike it’s previous entries has received a lot of negativity from critics and fans alike. I’m part of the minority of people who really like this movie. I liked the story, the acting, and Sam Rami’s direction, just like with the previous Spider-Man movies. But of course I’m not going to act like it doesn’t have a lot of problems, there is way too much in this movie, which ultimately holds back the movie from being as great as it could be. Despite this, many aspects of the plot itself are great, and it’s a solid movie overall.
Tonally, this is the most serious of the Rami Spider-Man movies, and with Peter going through different stages of his life throughout these movies, it did feel appropriate. There are some moments of humour though, some of them worked, others… not so much. This movie is around 2 hours 20 minutes long, I was never really bored throughout but I definitely felt the running time, which is ironic since this movie might’ve actually needed more time. Ultimately the biggest problem with Spider-Man 3 is that there is way too much going on. There’s Peter and Mary Jane’s romance, Sandman’s story which ties into Peter, the symbiote black suit that Peter comes in contact with and changes him, there’s Harry and Peter’s story, there is so much going on. If you want to know what went wrong, Sony basically forced Sam Rami to put the character of Venom into the movie, which is an incredible major plotline as it meant having a segment of Peter wearing the suit and also Venom being created, and there’s already so many plotlines in the movie. If Spider-Man 3 just had Mary Jane and Peter’s romance, Sandman’s story and Harry’s story, that would’ve been enough. But because of the amount of stories going on, the handling of the plotlines at times can be clumsy and poor. There are some really bad plot decisions made in the handling of the stories sometimes, for example early in the movie there’s a fight between Peter and Harry which results in Harry losing his memory, basically putting his revenge storyline on hold or about an hour, while all the other plots and subplots continue. It feels lazy and almost like a slap in the face after the buildup for this story in 2, here it almost feels like an afterthought of a subplot. There are two moments of conflict between Peter and Harry which are done very well, which shows hints of what could’ve been had that aspect been handled a lot better.
Another point of criticism is that this movie has 3 villains and while I like each of these villains, yet again, the film felt overstuffed with them. It’s like all these plotlines and villains are taking turns to have the spotlight, first its Harry, then it’s Sandman, then it’s Harry again, then it’s Venom and Sandman, it’s very jarring when it just keeps switching plotlines when the former plotlines are like put into hibernation or something. Speaking of Venom, an infamous part of the movie is how it handled the black suit plotline. Sometimes the black suit plotline really worked, like when it ties into Sandman. However it generally doesn’t reach its full potential. The film does partially take this in a more comedic direction. For example, after wearing the suit for a long period of time, Peter becomes ‘Emo Peter’, culminating in him acting all ‘edgy’ and ‘badass’ and ‘cool’, a lot of this is done for comedy. For example there are a couple of over the top scenes, one is a montage (set to the tune of ‘People get up and Drive your Funky Soul’ by James Brown), which despite it’s over the top nature I enjoyed because it is probably what would happen if a nerd like Peter grew an ego and thought he was cool. The other is full on dance routine in a Jazz Club, which is quite possibly the worst Spider-Man scene ever filmed. So obviously, mixed results. Not to say that I didn’t like it but the black suit arc really could’ve been done better. The last act, while enjoyable, is pretty rushed. Even the couple of very brief scenes after the climax seems to end incredibly quickly. Honestly while I liked all these plotlines, they definitely feel like they didn’t meet their potential, due to all of them crammed into one movie. I know I probably came across that I hated them, but the truth is that they could’ve been done a lot better.
Tobey Maguire once again is Peter Parker/Spider-Man and once again he is really good. I will say that I found myself not liking Peter early in the movie (even before he gets the black suit), especially when it came to Mary Jane, but I felt that was intentional (possibly because he was gaining a bit of an ego as Spider-Man) however that really didn’t get explored because of all the other plotlines. Now as for those 20 minutes where Peter is ‘Emo Peter’, even if you hate what was done with him, you gotta give credit to Maguire for throwing himself into what he was told to do, literally dancing in the streets with absolutely no shame at all. I even started to like Kirsten Dunst’s Mary Jane. The romance aspect, while not exactly good, is done a lot better than in the previous movies. Mary Jane isn’t used as a ‘superhero girlfriend’ like she was in the first two movies (she only needs saving once in the entire movie), here they actually start to somewhat develop her. But the romance can be a bit frustrating, not for any cheesiness but because Peter and Mary Jane do make some bad decisions in their relationship, so the romance isn’t that good. James Franco is once again good as Harry Osborn. Unfortunately for him, after a few scenes early in the movie, once Harry loses his memory he doesn’t get much to do until like the second half of the movie. Thomas Haden Church is Flint Marko/Sandman, who is for me a very underrated comic book movie villain. Like Doc Ock, he is a lot deeper and sympathetic as a character, with Marko trying to help his dying daughter. He’s also a lot more consistent with his actions, there’s no moments where he’s gleefully committing evil deeds just for the fun of it (which Doc Ock occasionally did in Spider-Man 2). Out of the three villains I felt that he was used the best. However I will say that some aspects of the resolution of his story (particularly his last scene) did feel open and not fully concluded.
Topher Grace is Eddie Brock/Venom and I’m not quite sure how to feel about him. While his human form Eddie Brock is given motivations which work okay, he’s not that compelling as a character, nor does he have enough screentime. I think the biggest problem with Venom is that Brock wasn’t that interesting or deep of a character before he turned into Venom. Also once again, Rami didn’t even want Venom in the movie, so he does feel a little out of place and is probably why we don’t get a whole lot of time with him. At the very least though, Grace acted the Eddie Brock role fine and seemed to be having a great time playing Venom, I don’t think any of the issues of the character are on him. The other supporting cast are pretty good with Rosemary Harris, James Cromwell and others. J.K. Simmons once again returns as J. Jonah Jameson, very enjoyable and entertaining as always. One role that did feel out of place was Gwen Stacy (played by Bryce Dallas Howard), Bryce was fine in the role but Stacy didn’t really have much point to be there in the film (and she is a big deal in the comics). And I thought I’d mention, Bruce Campbell has the best cameo in the entire Spider-Man trilogy, he deserves a mention because he’s Bruce Campbell. And he’s awesome.
The quality of the CGI in Spider-Man 3 is around the level of Spider-Man 2. There is some noticeable green screen and fake CGI at times, but then again Spider-Man 2 did have some moments of fake CGI, so I will overlook it (not to mention Spider-Man 3 was made a decade ago). I will say that the CGI slightly worked better in 2 though, probably because it wasn’t on that large of a scale with what they tried to create and have. The CGI for the black suit and Venom was really good, visually he looked great. The action scenes were all around filmed really well, from the first fight between Peter and Harry to the climax with Spider-Man, Harry, Venom and Sandman. The last act is entertaining, aside from the CGI for Sandman, what they did with him in the third act was really over the top, and ended up being kind of silly. I liked all the soundtracks for the Spider-Man trilogy, but 3 has quite possibly my favourite from the whole trilogy, this time it’s done by Christopher Young.
I will not deny that Spider-Man 3 could’ve and should’ve been a lot better. It had a lot of potential and great ideas but they’ve all been shoved all into this movie and the film became so bloated that they had to alter and change the plotlines so that they could fit in, which really negatively affected the film overall. With that said, the movie is good, and it honestly does have some great parts to it. All the issues aside, a lot of the aspects from the first two movies with the acting, direction and even some of the story are here, so I don’t notice that much of a difference from the first two films. The storylines are at the very least okay, and the action is really great. I consider this movie on par with all the other Spider-Man movies except for 2 (2 is still by far the best Spider-Man film yet). It had some of the elements and potential of being the best Spider-Man, but having too much really held it back.