Before we start, I’ll admit that I’ve demonised this film over the past year or so. I’m going to try and explain why as best I can whilst reviewing it, so buckle up. It’s going to be a long (and I do mean long) and bumpy ride.
Spider-Man 3 (2007)
The plot? Okay, I’ll try my best. After Peter (Tobey Maguire) and Mary Jane (Kirsten Dunst) got it together at the end of Spidey 2, things are going well. M.J. is in a Broadway musical and Spider-Man is getting the recognition he deserves from the New York City public. The shit hits the (Spider) fan when M.J. is sacked, Harry Osborn (James Franco) takes some of ol’ Normie’s home-style insanity gas and Peter finds out that newcomer Flint Marko (Thomas Haden-Church) was actually the guy who killed his Uncle Ben instead of the crook in the first film. Bung in rival photographer Eddie Brock (Topher Grace) too and I’m about quarter of the way through explaining. That’s one of the major problems- it’s too damn convoluted for its own good. We have no less than three villains in this film and of those three, two get a fairly decent amount of screentime.
Another problem is making Flint Marko (who becomes the Sandman) Uncle Ben’s killer. This seems to be an attempt to add an emotional punch to a new character. It doesn’t work. What we actually get is “Jurassic Park III” syndrome where an expansion of the original story actually harms it, rather than enhances it. It wasn’t that way in the comics, so why do it here? Plus, the whole point of the origin of Spider-Man was that it was just a random crook. Tim Burton’s “Batman” did this too, making the Joker the murderer of Wayne’s parents- it didn’t work then and twenty years on it still doesn’t work. So, I beg you Hollywood, for the last time- stop fucking with the source material!
“Spider-Man 3” also suffers from Too Many Villains syndrome. With Harry turning into the New Goblin, the newly created Sandman causing trouble as well as obvious afterthought Venom showing up, the film seems to be constantly playing catch-up with itself, like it’s spinning too many plates at once. With multiple plate-spinning, you’re always going to have the problem of concentrating on one whilst two others topple and crash to the ground. At the risk of straining this similie any more, let me explain with an example. Venom is just wrong. He’s clearly only in this film because of studio pressure to shift more Spidey toys. I loved the character of Venom in the comics and cartoon. He was the anti-Spidey, what would have happened if Peter had decided to turn to evil instead of good. In this film, he’s played by Eric Forman from “That ’70s Show”. Okay, slightly unfair as Topher Grace is a great actor and he’s weighed down with clunky dialogue and, for some reason, fucking stupid fangs.
There are just so many problems with this film. What is baffling however, is how Raimi, who directed “Spider-Man” and “Spider-Man 2”, films which subverted nearly all of the traps comic book films fall into, directed “Spider-Man 3” which categorically falls into every single one. There are stupid moments that range from unintentionally funny (the comedy “twang!” sound when Harry is clotheslined off his board) to the blood-boilingly annoying (that supposedly British reporter whose every line makes me wants to jam rusty steak knives into my ankle). The music is jarring too, with the absence of Danny Elfman being felt heavily. Plus, the ending is very weak with everyone sobbing and blubbering like clinically depressed walruses.
Despite the amount of acidic bile that is festering above, there are things to like about the film too. The fights are very well done, the Sandman effects impressive and it has the funniest Bruce Campbell cameo yet. On this occasion, the bad outweighs the good and what we’re left with is a dull thud rather than a triumphant ending to the trilogy. Let’s hope “Spider-Man 4” learns its lessons from this.