The following is a spoiler-filled retro review of Sam Raimi’s Spider-Man 3. It was written in 2016.
I remember liking Spider-Man 3 just fine, when it was released. Sure, it wasn’t perfect, and it definitely wasn’t as good as the first two Raimi Spider-Man films. But it was fine, right? Then, when I rewatched it when it was released on home video, I realized that maybe I had been too easy on the film.
Today, after having rewatched it nine years after its theatrical release, I can safely say that Spider-Man 3 is as bad as people say. But I still like it more than both of Marc Webb’s The Amazing Spider-Man films. Let’s talk about the film that made Sony reboot their Spider-Man franchise.
In Spider-Man 3, Spider-Man (played by Tobey Maguire) is the man of the people that the last film set him up to be. He’s being honored by the city, but his relationship with Harry Osborn (played by James Franco) is still on the rocks. Mary Jane (played by Kirsten Dunst) is continuing her Broadway career, until a couple of bad reviews ruins her faith in herself and her abilities.
Meanwhile, Flint Marko (played by Thomas Haden Church) has escaped prison and is now considered – by the police – to be the true murderer of Uncle Ben. Marko, though, has his own problems to worry about as his daughter needs expensive treatment to cure her of an illness, and he, himself, has been turned into a monster made of sand. Simultaneously, a crashing meteorite introduces a symbiote that is about to change Peter Parker’s life forever.
As you may gather from that plot description, there is a lot of stuff going on in Spider-Man 3. And what is really crazy is that I didn’t even get to mention the introduction of Eddie Brock (played by Topher Grace) or Gwen (played by Bryce Dallas Howard) and George Stacy (played by James Cromwell).
But I want to mention two or three things that I like about the film, before I go on to mention why this film isn’t as smooth as the other two films in the trilogy. J. K. Simmons and Rosemary Harris are still as solid as they’ve been in the other two films. They never fail to make me smile in these films. I also think Bruce Campbell’s cameo in Spider-Man 3 is his best cameo in the trilogy.
“My best friends, I’d give my life for them.” – Harry Osborn.
I also still enjoy being with these characters. Even though Mary Jane, Peter, and Harry all have bad moments in this film, it’s fun to see them interact with each other. A friendly Harry – for a while at least – was great to see again, and I like how he ended the trilogy. But the best thing about this film is the potential that the Flint Marko character had. Marko could’ve been a really great villain, if a couple of things would’ve been handled differently.
But his ‘transformation scene’ is absolutely wonderful. Equally ‘cool-looking’ is the look of the symbiote. I’m not a fan of venom being in this film, but when you see – what looks like – black moving-liquid clawing its way forward, you have to admit that it is pretty cool.
And that’s pretty much it. The rest of my notes are issues. Spider-Man 3 has too much going on. Too many characters, too many villains, too many subplots, and too many romantic connections. Venom seems rushed, Sandman is sidelined for too long, a couple of characters were miscast, and ’emo-Peter’ is cringeworthy at times.
There’s some really bad CGI, an uninteresting final fight only with flashes of goodness, a bad monster design for Sandman in the final fight, and some unnecessary flashbacks. But what I really hate about this film, is that they return to Uncle Ben’s murderer, and make it someone else. Move on, storytellers.
Sure, I’ve heard the stories about studio interference, and I don’t really blame Sam Raimi. Sam Raimi gave me – at worst – two great superhero films about one of my favorite superhero characters, and – at best – two and a half great superhero films. Spider-Man 3 was a misstep, but I still look back at the first Spider-Man series of films with a smile on my face.
5.5 out of 10
– Jeffrey Rex