Widely recognised as THE worst Spider-Man film to date, Spider-Man 3 was Sam Raimi's final outing as the Marvel hero's puppetmaster. Watching it back when it came out I was left entertained but a little bit confused to say the least.
It looked like a decent Spider-Man movie and yet...
Something was a bit off.
Spider-Man 3 sees Peter Parker (Tobey Maguire) yet again screwing things up with Mary Jane (Kirsten Dunst) and donning the black Venom suit as a million other things happen. You've got Thomas Haden Church turning into The Sandman and causing havok around the city for whatever reason, you've got James Franco's Harry Osborn finally taking over the Goblin suit (well, a snowboard and a Cobra outfit), you've got Gwen Stacy (Bryce Dallas Howard) being introduced... it's certainly a handful and much more than just the usual mad-scientist-goes-nuts scenario.
By the end you'll be wishing for a straight-forward mad scientist plot though...
A lot of people say Spider-Man 3 had too many villains and that's why it was such a mess. I disagree, I think you can make a good film which juggles 3 villains, it's just that every villain is so poorly handled here that none of them work. So basically what you're left with is Peter Parker dancing around and a really awkward romance plot thread. For me, the worst offender is The Sandman. A fun character in the comics: he is not only a wasted opportunity here but a waste of time altogether. The sand effects range from meh to friggin' terrible, Thomas Haden Church, so good in Sideways, gives an awful performance throughout, the character is given no story, no motivation, no resolve. There's no point to The Sandman in this movie, get rid of every scene he's in and watch as the movie doesn't lose any momentum or anything at all and ends up being actually much better and shorter.
Then there's Venom.
THIS should have been our main villain, people. Why that black alien goop spends 90% of this movie in Peter Parker's bedroom taking a shit is beyond me. Topher Grace could have made it work as well, he's a decent actor, but he is given such ridiculous lines...
"I like being bad: it makes me happy!"
...not to mention where-the-hell-did-they-come-from vampire teeth and the most tacked on subplot since, well, The Sandman's. You barely see Venom in his true form but when you do he looks great. You just wish his face wouldn't peel back so often and the character would have been around during that first hour. Everything about Venom is clumsily handled, such a shame since the effects surrounding the villain looked spot-on. As for poor old Harry Osborn, he is disposed off early on and James Franco is left looking as high as a kite for most of the movie.
Case and point:
Make James Franco your supporting villain in Spider-Man 2, drop The Sandman altogether, give Venom the top spot in Spider-Man 3, maybe with The Lizard as a supporting villain (after all, the character IS there!) and you've got yourself a trilogy that makes sense at least. So many plot points rely on crazy coincidences in Spider-Man 3:
The black alien goop just happened to fall next to Parker and MJ, then it just happened to follow them and remain perfectly tame and quiet until the plot needed it to do something, Eddie Brock (Grace) just happened to be there to see Parker go out with his girl Stacy and he just happened to show up at the same exact church that Spider-Man just happened to choose to take off the Venom suit in. Oh, and I just happened to stop caring about halfway through. And that's just the Venom stuff, there's plotholes and coincidences aplenty in every aspect of this movie.
Harry Osborn should have fired that f***ing butler long ago.
Can you believe this guy?
Anyway, let's be positive for a bit. What's good about Spider-Man 3?
Well, it is still an entertaining and fun movie, Kirsten Dunst does well, parts of Venom's characterisation are cool, J. Jonah Jameson (J.K. Simmons) is as good as ever, some of the special effects are pretty decent, Bruce Campbell excels in his silliest, most surreal Spidey cameo appearance and some moments in that movie are so absurd they're completely enjoyable. I mean, this is a Spider-Man movie in which our "hero" starts dancing around the streets like an idiot before turning into Fred Astaire's ass in a jazz club and punching his girlfriend in the face. Peter Parker really is an unlikeable shit in this movie, both before and after he puts on the black suit. And when you're watching a superhero movie where you don't even like the superhero... something's not right.
Yes Spider-Man 3 is a mess. It's not Batman & Robin bad but it's only slightly better than, say, Fantastic Four: Rise Of The Silver Surfer. To give you an idea. Its plotting is confused and, at times, incomprehensible, its villains are clunky, its hero is a douche, its effects are all over the place, its humour is much too broad and it's just not a good Spider-Man movie. That said, it boasts its share of lols and you'd have to be a pretty grumpy sod to not at least enjoy Spider-Man 3 on that level at least. Overall, if you like the other two Sam Raimi Spider-Man films, check this one out but be warned: you won't like it for the same reasons. Otherwise, you might want to skip it altogether and opt for the new, slightly more sensible, reboot.
A lolgasmic disappointment.