By Chris Campo
Spider-Man 3, to some, is the worst Spider-Man movie made, and I think I agree. Spider-Man 3, when I was a kid, was my favorite of the trilogy. I thought Sandman and Venom were badass and I laughed everytime Peter danced, but after rewatching this film after some time, I have to admit... I fucking hate this movie. Spider-Man 3 is a mess. A silly, sloppy mess. Are there some good aspects or moments? Yes. Is it worse than a Fantastic Four film or the Green Lantern one we're trying to forget? No. But this series means a lot to me and this is sort of a slap in the face.
Spider-Man 3 throws us back into the life of Peter Parker (Toby Maguire), where everything seems to be going great. He's doing well in school, he's a hero to his city and he's got the girl of his dreams, Mary Jane Watson (Kirsten Dunst). Darkness soon shadows his life as Harry Osborn (James Franco) vows revenge on Peter, Flint Marco (Thomas Church) brings new truths to his life, and Eddie Brock (Topher Grace) sets to destroy Peter's life after Peter destroyed his, which takes place after a symbiotic creature migrates from Peter to Eddie. If it sounds overstuffed, that's because it is. It's a story that lacks so much focus that there's not a lot to really grasp. It's all just there, and stuff happens, and the movie ends.
As I've mentioned, and will continue to mention for as long as Spider-Man 3 comes up in conversations, this film is a unfocused mess. The trio of vilians is messy, Peter's so-called arc is messy, character motivations are messy and the script is almost laughable. Sure, there are some moments where I sit back, smirk and murmer to myself "that's the Spider-Man I love," but those moments are few and far between. The film feels as though it's desperate to satisfy you, which is funny when you consider the last two films effortlessly amazed us all.
I'm just going to go out and say it, Peter Parker is a shitty character in Spider-Man 3. Yeah, one of the most likeable and relatable characters in comics is reduced to a dude who wants to marry a girl and momentarily goes emo. Thats it. The development of his character from the first two films completely slams on the breaks and gives us a flat, static replacement, not to mention how his motivation is just confusing. So many choices he makes leave me confused and wondering what happened to his complexion? Why isn't Peter Parker likeable? Shitty writing, that's why.
The screenplay is a joke, throwing whatever it can to the walls and nearly nothing sticks. It's all rushed too. Everything is rushed. From Peter abandoning the black suit to Venom's whole arc, everything seems so desperate to fit in. They barley make room for Aunt May, who's nothing more than a lazy excuse to throw exposition at the audience or advice at Peter. So much stuff makes no sense, like I get why the symbiotic makes Peter more aggressive, but why does it make him dance on TWO occasions? Or why does it make him a douche? Oh, because it's funny? To a child, sure. It's when Peter buys a suit and air humps towards two pretty girls where you just wish you could die because of how much of a mess this film is.
The villains are often said to be the reason this film failed. I hear all the time that this film would have been better with one villain... maybe two, but honestly, that's not necessarily the problem. The problem is that all the vilians in this film suck, and suck hard. Harry, or "New Goblin" as it appears in the credits, is not only a carbon copy of Green Goblin, but has a lazy and over-before-you-know-it story arc in this film. The Sandman is an interesting idea, and the origin of his powers is a beautiful, stand out sequence, but the character himself is excruciatingly boring. I just don't care about him, his connection to Peter forced, and his transformation into that huge sand monster at the end is just awful. Now, I could write a whole article on how much I hate Venom in this movie. Everything from the awful casting of Topher Grace to the weird way his face is animated when speaking. Venom should have been a highlight, but instead he's a rushed after thought with maybe 7 or so full minutes of screen time.
Not even the action is that good, either. Unlike the first two films, there's not even one truly memorable set piece. There's the highway fight with Sandman, but that's forgettable. There's the fight in mid-air with New Goblin, but that's boring and stretched out. The final battle is just barley passable, but it's nowhere as near as memorable as the previous two films, Harry's death is satasfying and emotional in that final fight, but thats about it. The sewer fight, where Peter is first the black suited Spider-Man, is decent, and the collapsing building sequence is exciting, but there's nothing that truly stands out, or is as well done as, for example, the train sequence in Spider-Man 2.
As for Mary Jane Watson... what the fuck? She went from boring damsel in distress, to more tolerable damsel in distress, to annoying and boring damsel in distress in the course of three films. I hate Mary Jane in this film. Not only is the character just not exciting, but neither is her story. I don't care about her problems, they only slow the film down. The pacing gets all fucked up when we take time with her. I get it, Peter cares about her, which is great, but we dont. Move on, just not to Gwen Stacey, as Gwen in this film is a joke. A crammed in, no-purpose joke.
To be fair, this is not a 100%, completely awful film. The film does have its moments. It's certainly well shot, and Sam Raimi adds some signature flair to his direction. The score is great, superb even, and may just top the last two films. There's also a lot of those little moments that put a big, goofy smile on my face, like where Spider-Man is chilling after fighting the Sandman, pouring sound out of his shoe, or how Peter cant seem to get the door in his apartment fixed, and it's this general Spider-Maning that gets me all soft inside. I love him swinging around and cheering, it makes me feel like a happy child, and that's exactly what these films should do.
To sum up, Spider-Man 3 is a low point in the franchise, and it may be my least favorite Spider-Man film to date. It's a sloppy, unfocused and forgettable mess with little redeming qualities. It's a shame this film had to follow two amazing films, but hey, at least we got a reboot... right?