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Spider-Man 3 could be one of the most highly-anticipated films ever. The first two entries were both monumental successes, and the hype machine behind the third has been churning for over a year now. With Sam Raimi proving the first film wasn’t a fluke with the first sequel, expectations were stratospheric for the (potentially) last movie in the series.
Review by Vash
Added: May 04, 2007
But expectations can be a bitch. Spidey 3 isn’t an outright failure by any means, but it fails to balance the fantastical nature of the series with its melodramatic core.
Peter Parker (Maguire) seems to have finally caught a break. He’s at the top of his class at NYU, and the citizens of New York have fully embraced Spider-Man as their friendly neighborhood protector, posting thankful ads and billboards all over the city, much to the joy of Parker himself. The love of his life, Mary Jane Watson (Dunst), however, is becoming increasingly frustrated with living in her super-hero boyfriend’s shadow. On the plus side, after a quick fight with our hero over the city’s skyscrapers, Harry Osbourne (Franco) seems to have lost his memory, forgetting about his Green Goblin persona, thus abating his urge to kill Spider-Man and avenge his fallen father.
Meanwhile, escaped convict Flint Marko (Church), who we find out may be Peter’s uncle’s real killer, falls into the middle of a particle matter experiment while on the run from the cops. Seeing as dangerous experiments never have detrimental affects on characters in comic books, Marko is transformed into The Sandman, quickly broadening the scale of his petty thievery with his newfound powers.
As all this happens under Parker’s nose, his job at the Daily Bugle looks to be usurped by the smarmy Eddie Brock (Grace). Brock and Parker develop a fierce rivalry, which comes to a head when mysterious alien goo (yes, another plot device) finds its way onto Parker’s suit and gives him incredible new powers.
By the halfway point, the wall-crawler has to deal with an estranged girlfriend, an amnesiac trying to ruin his life, a giant sand golem, an alien suit that’s driving him insane, and a guy trying to steal his job. If this seems like a lot to take in, that’s because it is. Even at almost two and a half hours, none of the sub-plots ever feel fully fleshed out, and none of them reach the levels they’re leading up to for the first two acts of the film.
The reason for this is that Raimi simply tried to do too much at once, and he forgot that what made the first two films so compelling was that they took their time to establish Parker and the people in his life as fully realized characters. Maguire still gets the most screen time, and seeing him deal with his new powers make for some of the best scenes in the franchise.
The problems come from the villains. Sandman seems to appear only to spur on Spider-Man’s vengeful side, and then he is merely relegated to smashing things for the remainder of the film. Brock, who gets Spidey’s black suit and turns into Venom, gets very little screen time, mainly serving as someone to fight during the big climax. The obvious parallels between Parker and Brock are never explored, making you wish they’d just left him out entirely. Franco’s Green Goblin seems to have the biggest arc, but when it reaches its conclusion, you feel like you’ve just read one of those really bad “What If?” comics, and you’d be happier not knowing the outcome.
It would be easier to accept the one-dimensional characters if the movie went out of its way to deliver great action sequences, like the elevated train fight from the second film, but it tries way too hard to get all of its sub-plots out of the bag. This leads to a weird jolt for viewers, as things instantly shift from melodramatic dialogue to campy fight scenes without warning.
Considering its pitfalls, it’s amazing that Spider-Man 3 is still more enjoyable than almost any other comic book movie out there. To its credit, it never seems as long as it does, because even with a faulty storyline, Raimi still manages to engage the audience. When it delivers the goods, Spidey 3 is every bit the high-powered summer blockbuster we’ve all been waiting for, but unfortunately, it spends more time tangled in its own web of a plot. 6/10.
Did Sam Raimi intentionally kill the franchise? Maybe he woke up one morning and said, "I don't want to direct a fourth film and I want to make sure no one else does either!" That can be the only excuse for the monumental disaster that was "Spider-Man 3", one of the worst cinematic experiences I have had in a long while. Did he decide the pressure to direct a third film was too much and call up his friend Joel Schumacher for lessons in tackling a third film? "Spider-Man 3" felt like it was directed by Joel Schumacher. It was "Spider-Man" by way of Uwe Boll. There is just so much to say about this film, about this disappointment and this cinematic travesty. If you think I'm over-exaggerating how bad this film was, you obviously haven't seen it yet.
In terms of the script, it was penned by Sam Raimi, his brother Ivan, and Alvin Sergent. It is one of the worst mainstream, big budget scripts I have ever heard spoken aloud, and that includes anything by Michael Bay or Tony Scott. The third film finds Peter Parker (Tobey Maguire) doing what he does best - saving New York City from the bad guys. He is still dating Mary Jane (Kirsten Dunst), who is opening a show on Broadway and sporadically visiting Aunt May (Rosemary Harris) when he needs Jessica Tandy-like advice. His first bad guy is his old pal Harry (James Franco), who still blames Spider-Man for killing his father. Harry is now Hobgoblin. His second bad guy is Flint Marko (Thomas Haden Church), who becomes The Sandman - it turns out that he was the one who killed Peter's Uncle Ben. And the third bad guy is Venom, at first played by Tobey Maguire when the symbiotic organism attaches to Peter, and then played by Topher Grace when the symbiotic organism attaches itself to photographer Eddie Brock. Spider-Man must do battle with all of these bad guys, whilst still paying attention to his relationship with Mary Jane, trying to win a staff job at the Daily Bugle, doing battle with the demons within and finding a way to pay his rent.
There are some decent moments in the film - primarily towards the beginning - but those moments are few and far between. It's like throwing a cup full of roses into a barrel full of shit and then mixing it all together. If you start digging, you'll eventually find some rose petals; but, for the most part, it's just a pile of shit. It really felt like the rug had been pulled out from under whatever creative entity that caused Sam Raimi to create the masterful first two films. It was gone. Everything that made those films work was missing from "Spider-Man 3". Maybe it would have helped if this film had actually been three separate entries. It felt like Raimi couldn't decide on what he wanted to use and didn't want to use, so he threw everything in and didn't pay any attention to whether or not it made any sense or had any kind of flow to it. About an hour into the film, the mood shifts and it becomes shtick - "Spider-Man" by way of Mel Brooks. And, on the whole, it really felt like "Spider-Man 3" was more of a comedy than a big budget action flick. Raimi went for too much shtick and not enough schtuff. What other excuse is there for a five minute sequence of Tobey Maguire doing his best "Saturday Night Fever" through the streets of New York? When he is at that piano, playing and dancing and snapping, I wanted to throw up in the aisle.
The film also felt lacking in the performance department, i.e. they sucked. Tobey Maguire played everything like he was Steven Weber. And watching Tobey Maguire attempt to cry is like watching a body builder try to squeeze water out of a rock. And how about how they decided to show that Spider-Man was Bad Spider-Man by making him look like a member of Bauhaus. How do we know it's Bad Spider-Man? Because he has on a lot of make-up and listens to Marilyn Manson. But even worse than Tobey Maguire was Kirsten Dunst. Just when she had gained minimal credit for her role in "Marie Antoinette", she pissed it all away by acting like a poor man's Alicia Silverstone and singing like Aaron Neville. Was it absolutely necessary to have her sing two whole songs? One was excruciating enough, but two? Was it in her contract? And for someone who is supposed to be so beautiful, why does her hair always look like she just got out of the damned shower? Now, onto pretty boy James Franco. He wakes up with amnesia and the first thing he says, "My father's dead, isn't he? Must have got quite a bump on my head!" And from that point on it was like they wanted to see how frequently they could have him smile that cheesy smile of his. "Look at me, I'm adorable!" Alas, halfway through the film, he somehow caught a Forest Whitaker lazy-eye, and this is before his face gets burned. My favorite, and by favorite I mean least favorite, part of the film was when they decided to show a 30-minute sequence of Harry and Mary Jane cooking a god damned omelet! Did we need to see them mix every single ingredient together?
More performances to bemoan. Thomas Haden Church has so little to do with The Sandman that I can hardly blame him for anything. However, he is basically the equivalent of Mr. Freeze from "Batman & Robin" - the poor, sympathetic villain. And as imposing as he seems to be to our friendly neighborhood Spider-Man most of the time, he really is somewhat of a pansy. How ironic that, as The Sandman slowly blows away, so do the sands in the hourglass that was the "Spider-Man" franchise. As for Topher Grace, he's fine as Eddie Brock - just enough smart ass wit to make the character work. However, when he becomes Venom, he does not need to sound like Topher Grace. Why? Because Topher Grace is about as intimidating as having Spider-Man voices by Snoop Dogg. It just doesn't work. And, what about how in the middle of the final battle scene, we break away for a three minute scene with J.K. Simmons bartering for a camera? Did Sam Raimi feel like J.K. was being given enough screen time? Is that really a reason to cut away from the primary action? I compare that to the Jar-Jar cut aways in "Episode 1: The Phantom Menace".
What else? What else? Did I mention that Tobey Maguire has an extended dance sequence where he does his best, and worst, John Travolta? Did I mention that they made Hobgoblin good? Did I mention that Harry learns Peter didn't kill his father from some random old butler who just so happened to see Harry's dad when he died - and this guy is no Charlton Heston. I know they were already over-budget, but could we not do better than that son-of-a-bitch? The best part of the entire film was Bruce Campbell's brief cameo as a snobby French maitre'd. Bryce Dallas Howard also did an acceptable job in a role with little relevance, as did Dylan Baker and James Cromwell. The supporting cast, including random flashes of Willem Dafoe, were the best things about this film. I kept waiting for Sam Raimi to walk out, stop the film and explain that he was just fooling around and how the real film was going to start immediately thereafter. It never happened. The closest we got was Ted Raimi, and his scene wasn't even that damned funny. It really wasn't at all.
I won't even get in to how they deviate from the storyline in the comic book. Wow. Venom was given the same treatment that Bane was given in "Batman & Robin". Plus, how about that whole switch on the Venom thing? How about Sam Raimi deciding to make Hobgoblin a good guy at the end of the film? Stan Lee, who even makes a cameo in the film, surely had to realize they were whoring out everything that made the original storylines so compelling. Didn't he? Or was he blinded by the movie check? I don't think it's that Sam Raimi has no respect for the comic or the fans, but I do think it's that Sam Raimi doesn't appreciate either. I want any true fan of the "Spider-Man" comics to justify what was done to the story in this film? Anyone?
This was my comic book growing up. "Spider-Man" was my favorite. I gave the first film a perfect score and absolutely loved it. I gave the second film a perfect score and loved it more than the first film. I think "Spider-Man 3" is a travesty of epic proportions. It's just plain bad and that's all there is to it. I feel bad for Sam Raimi and the fact that this franchise will probably always be remembered for this pathetic final chapter. I feel bad for all the "Spider-Man" fans out there who are cursing and stomping their ways out of the theatre. I feel bad for each and every audience member who were watching a train wreck that just wouldn't seem to end. Maybe this was the type of film Sam Raimi had been wanting to make all along and maybe the studio finally gave him permission to run wild with the material. I don't know what the reason is, and I don't care. There is just no excuse for this kind of end result. It's embarrassing. "Spider-Man 3" was the worst film I have seen all year, and the most disappointing film I have seen in my entire life.
- added 05/04/2007, 10:33 AM
It absolutely PAINS me to say that you're right
about this movie. I thought it was down to a
simple science directing a Spider-Man film, seeing
as how Raimi did the first two nigh-perfectly. But
god damn, this movie was rediculously bad. All my
hopes and dreams for #4 went away, not to mention
3 being such a travesty to the cinema world
itself. I can only find one redeeming quality in
this film, and that was the fight scenes. Besides
that, Topher Grace pulled his performance out of
his ass, and Kirsten Dunst needs to stop doing
coke long enough to handle a semi-lead role. Not
to mention TOO MANY VILLIANS. 2 in a movie is
pushing it, but 4(I'm counting Peter Parker
himself) is just fucking insane. What a sad end to
a great film. I now have no hope of the next
Fantastic Four movie to be any good. It just seems
like Marvel has been going downhill since
Spider-Man 2. What a shame.
- added 05/06/2007, 10:19 PM
bluemeanie you hit the nail on the fucking head.
I did think Topher wasn't bad as Venom, and i
think James Franco's reprise of Harry wasn't bad
either. Bruce Campbell steals the movie in his 5
minute scene and Tobey to me seemed different this
time around then in the previous Spiderman movies.
I don't want a fourth, but i'd have to see it
simply because of the fact that its Spiderman.
- added 05/08/2007, 10:42 AM
I don't even know where to begin. The
"uber-cool-emo-Spidey" montage made me want to
barf. Kirsten Dunst fudged it up again, this time
by singing two songs. James Franco was good, but
his character was pathetic. Thomas Haden Church
did a damn fine job but again, the character was
poorly written. Topher Grace was smug, and
sarcastic, and surprisingly good as Eddie Brock,
but his voice was anything but intimidating when
he played Venom. This is Venom we're talking
about. Venom. The biggest and best Spiderman
villain. And the best we can give him is 4 minutes
of screen time, a lame getup and why, oh why, was
he a skinny little nothing? Venom was scary in the
comics, and scary in the animated series. In this
he looked like black Spiderman, but with a head
resembling a turtle's. And last but not least,
Tobey Maguire. He did his part, and....that's it.
Nothing special here. And was I the only one to
notice he suddenly didn't have his Spider sense?
Not once did seem to know when something was
coming, even a spitball in class. I would give
this movie a big, fat 0, but I enjoyed the
action/fight sequences. Watching him battle in the
air with Harry(by the way, he's not Hobgobllin.
Hobgoblin was a criminal who broke into Norman's
lab), and the fights with Sandman were all very
enjoyable. Also, Bruce Campbell, as always, stole
the show. There's a reason why the Evil Dead
movies were so successful, and it's showing now
that Raimi should only ever direct Bruce Campbell.
For that Sam Raimi, you get 2. 2 out of 10, and be
happy you got that.
- added 05/09/2007, 09:07 PM
I like bad movies. I liked Ghost Rider. I liked
X-Men 3. I really can't say I liked Spider-Man 3.
Yes, it was that bad. It was going pretty good
until the last 40 minutes or so, and it all went
downhill. Venom was just atrocious. Topher Grace
should not have been cast, plain and simple.
Venom's physical size over Spiderman was one of
his many benefits. And his voice just added to the
ferociousness. But no, let's just use Topher's
voice, in fact we're gonna use his head half the
time too. Like it says in the reviews, they just
tried to cram too much in there. They should have
just left Venom out all together, in fact, ending
the movie with Venom's first appearance in the
church would have set up so much buzz for 4 it
would have been unbelievable. In stead, they went
and ruined the character AND destroyed any chances
of them using my favorite Spidey villain, Carnage.
Raimi has always been an outspoken Venom-hater,
and to be perfectly honest I wouldn't be surprised
if he did that on purpose, merely pretending to
have "warmed up to the character." This movie had
a lot of potential, it really did, even with the
story that was used, had it taken the time to tell
it. LIke Vash mentioned, parts 1 and 2 fleshed out
the villains. You knew them and had started to
care. And their "super villian" powers were always
reasonable plausable due to how it was presented.
Not just "some guy happens to fall in a hole and
- added 08/28/2007, 07:42 PM
I didn't like it, but I didn't hate it. I'll wait
for Raimi to release his actual cut of the film
before I pass my judgment anyway...
- added 09/22/2007, 02:45 AM
This was like a musical rendition of Spider-Man.
Did some Bollywood director do this? Venom was
absolutely disappointing. No long tongue, no
saliva dripping, AND HIS WEB WAS BLACK!! Was it
even webbing?? They should have gotten Dolph
Lundgren to be Brock. He'd be soooo much better...
even though alot older. I can visualise Dolph as
Brock... AND Venom.
- added 09/27/2007, 08:48 PM
Dolph Lundgren as Venom = Genius.
- added 09/27/2007, 09:17 PM
I think he's a bit too old for the part
personally. And too tall. Brock was tall yes, but
Lundgren is massive. I was thinking Austin St.
John (Jason from the Power Rangers way back when)
would be a good Brock, but apparently he's gotten
rather chunky as of late.
- added 11/03/2007, 07:06 AM
On the one hand, I agree with most of what's been
said here, and yeah, the emo haircut and the dance
scenes made me ill. However, I did enjoy the film
to a certain extent. It obviously doesn't compare
to the first two and it's far from perfect, but
it's not quite as bad as the posts here would lead
you to believe. I think I agree with Vash here -
6/10 sounds about right.
- added 11/03/2007, 01:27 PM
This could have, should have, been an awesome
movie. At some point someone should have taken a
hatchet to the script or done a massive editing
job of the footage. Still, it wasn't all bad.
6/10 is close enough.
- added 11/03/2007, 01:52 PM
Little things could have fixed this. (Here there
be spoilers.) First off, Topher Grace is not
Brock. Period. Get St. John back in shape, and he
would have my vote. Secondly, the suit shouldn't
have turned him into an emo/disco tool. He should
have just ran around being an asshole, like he was
doing when he was getting his neighbor to make him
the cookies. Harry survives the explosion and then
teams up with Sandman. Speaking of, get rid of
that swat shit, give him actual goblin gear.
Anyway, Spidey is able to win the fight just using
sheer aggression thanks to the suit, going so far
as to kill Harry. After the big fight is when he
goes to the bell tower, consumed with guilt. Movie
ends with that shot zooming in on Venom roaring. I
just sold out Spider-Man 4.
make movies ;)
- added 11/03/2007, 05:19 PM
It's not just as bad as the posts would lead you
to believe -- it's worse.
- added 11/22/2007, 05:26 PM
Whats really insane is that James Franco is in
better shape then Tobey Mcguire, i think they
should have left out Sandman completely and just
focused on Venom and Harry as the bad guys for
this movie. As for Sam Raimi killing the
franchise? I think Spider-Man 4 will tell us if
he really did, if there will be a Spider-man 4.
- added 12/06/2007, 12:31 AM
One of the first things I thought of when I
walked out of the theater was... "They should just
have fucking ended the movie at the bell tower.
That's alot more effective."
- added 01/28/2009, 08:09 PM
I wish I saw venom more than a couple of
- added 07/20/2009, 11:44 AM
I walked out of that movie saying "that's a
couple hours of my life that I will never get
back". Thank God I didn't pay. This movie
was a joke. I agree with most of you. Venom is
my favorite Spiderman villain and Topher Grace was
horrible. Playing the same Eric Foreman role he
does in every movie and clearly he doesn't fit the
physical demands. They tried to cram three
villains into one movie and did none of them
justice. As for that "Saturday Night
Fever" strut Tobey does down the street, the
dancing at the night club and yeah, what the hell
is up with the swoopy emo haircut? Like, that's
supposed to be the audiences clue that he's evil.
Can you say cutting room floor? Totally
- added 07/14/2010, 03:40 PM
I guess after ths it was good idea to do a