Posted on 6/27/12 10:53 AM
(Warning: There may be Spoilers)
I wish I could come out and say that Spider-Man 3 was another great film just like the two that came before it, effectively capping a great trilogy of films. Unfortunately, I cannot say that because Spider-Man 3 just isn't as good as its predecessors, falling victim to the dreaded 'third film' curse that has plagued many franchises from Star Wars to X-Men. The main issue with this film comes in its writing, as it juggles way too many plot lines, characters, and villains, making it very uneven compared to the first two films. Not only that, but some of these plot lines are either underdeveloped or just handled the wrong way. But is this truly that bad of a film? Quite frankly, it isn't because what does work in this film does work, from the cast to the action sequences. It's a shame they're let down by a mess of a script that hurts what should have been a great end to this great franchise.
A lot has changed for Peter Parker (Tobey Maguire) ever since he was bitten by that genetically-altered super-spider, becoming the webslinger superhero Spider-Man. He has become an icon in the city of New York and plans to propose to the love of his life, Mary Jane (Kirsten Dunst). However, things start to go haywire for Peter when an alien symbiote crashes down into New York and fuses itself to Peter, turning his suit black and also changing his personality. It also doesn't help that Flint Marko (Thomas Haden Church), the man who Peter learns had actually killed his Uncle Ben, has broken out of prison having recently become the shape-shifting criminal 'Sandman' and his old friend Harry (James Franco), who now knows who Peter really is, has taken up his father's mantle as the 'New Goblin' to exact his revenge on Peter for supposedly murdering his father.
There certainly are many problems with this film, but the biggest has to be that the film has too many villains to fit into just a single movie. As if Sandman and New Goblin weren't enough, then the film adds in Eddie Brock (played by Topher Grace), who later becomes fused with the symbiote becoming Venom. Obviously, Venom is a major character in the Spider-Man universe... and yet he's only on screen as Venom for like ten minutes. The truth is, Sam Raimi didn't even wanted to use Venom but was pressured into doing so. If anything, we should at least be glad that we did see Venom especially now that this version of Spider-Man is done.
But if Raimi did have the chance to do a fourth film, he should have just had Venom be the villain in that film and just go with Sandman and New Goblin as the villains because both Church and Franco were actually given very good development overall. With Sandman, we're able to sympathize with him because he's not entirely a bad guy. It's the same situation as with Doc Ock in Spider-Man 2 because he's just a guy who "has just had back luck" as the movie puts it. With this film, Harry Osborn is given a proper character arc as a man who is burdened not only by his father's legacy but now has a vendetta against his best friend because he's the one that Harry believes murdered his father.
Venom isn't the only underdeveloped addition to the cast though. The film also doesn't do much with the Stacys, Police Captain George (James Cromwell) and his daughter Gwen (Bryce Dallas Howard). It would make sense to give them good material because in the comics, Gwen Stacy just so happens to be Peter's first girlfriend even before Mary Jane and while the film does play her as somewhat of a 'rival' to Mary Jane for Peter's affections, she isn't given much else to do once that plot line is over. As for her father, he's really just there to tell Peter the truth about who really killed his uncle. Gwen, her father, and Venom may be important characters in the comics but here, they're just side characters by the end of it all.
In terms of the many plot lines of this movie, a lot of them come from the previously mentioned 'side characters' but there is one that isn't handled very well and that just so happens to be the main conflict that Spider-Man faces in the movie as this symbiote starts to change more than just his suit. At first, it is handled very well as we see how Peter is becoming more separate from Mary Jane and also vengeful against Sandman for killing his uncle. But once Peter starts going emo, it all starts to go downhill. What should be a really serious conflict in Peter's life is instead played up for laughs and when he is being threatening to someone, it's not that believable and makes him look more like a jerk. Things do get serious again later on in the film, but it doesn't help after we had just seen Peter do a dance a la Jerry Lewis in 'The Nutty Professor' because the tone is incredibly inconsistent, conflicted between both goofy and serious moments.
Even with all of these problems, the film itself isn't that bad of a film. Like before, the cast does still do a good job. However, this time Maguire comes off a bit more goofier than before and that whole emo turn doesn't help much either. Still, when he has to be serious, he still does a good job as Peter Parker. The same goes for the rest of the returning cast and the new members of the cast as well, even with the little material that some of them are given. The effects are still great and the action sequences in this film particularly are some of the best in any recent comic book movie. If this script wasn't as messy as it was, then this would've been one heck of a final film but that just isn't the case here. However, the film does end on somewhat of a high note.
Really when you get down to it, Spider-Man 3 isn't really as bad as most people have put it. However, there still are problems mainly with the script. Too many villains, some characters and plot lines that either go nowhere or aren't handled very well, etc. But this isn't a total mess of a film. The acting is still very good and it is still a very entertaining film from beginning to end. It's a shame that what started out with a great first film and was then followed by an even better sequel ends with a less than stellar 'threequel'. But now Marvel has moved on with a new reboot, even though it is only five years after this film. How will director Marc Webb and new leads Andrew Garfield and Emma Stone do in 'The Amazing Spider-Man'? Well, we're just going to have to stay tuned and find out when the film comes out on July 3rd.