Spider-Man 3 is a science fiction superhero action film co-written and directed by Sam Raimi, co-written by Ivan Raimi and Alvin Sargent, produced by Avi Arad, executive produced by Stan Lee and Kevin Feige, and starring Tobey Maguire, Kirsten Dunst, James Franco, Thomas Haden Church, Topher Grace, Bryce Dallas Howard, J.K. Simmons, Rosemary Harris, James Cromwell, Bill Nunn, Elizabeth Banks, Ted Raimi, Cliff Robertson, Michael Papajohn, Dylan Baker, Theresa Russell, and Perla Haney-Jardine.
Peter Parker (Tobey Maguire) has finally managed to piece together the once-broken parts of his life, maintaining a balance between his relationship with Mary Jane Watson (Kirsten Dunst) and his responsibility as Spider-Man. But more challenges arise for our young hero. Peter's old friend Harry Osborn (James Franco) has set out for revenge against Peter, taking up the mantle of his late father Norman's persona as The New Goblin, and Peter must also capture Uncle Ben's real killer, Flint Marko (Thomas Haden Church), who has been transformed into his toughest foe yet, the Sandman.
All hope seems lost when suddenly, Peter's suit turns jet-black and greatly amplifies his powers. But it also begins to greatly amplify the much darker qualities of Peter's personality that he begins to lose himself to. Peter has to reach deep inside himself to free the compassionate hero he used to be if he is to ever conquer the darkness within and face not only his greatest enemies, but also himself.
Everybody else has said it before and I'm gonna say it again: Spider-Man 3 was a tremendous letdown of epic proportions. It's not horrible, but still, it's such a disappointment. Before I get to the actual review, I'm gonna bore you with a bunch of filler. After Spider-Man 2 was a big hit, Sony and Sam Raimi immediately began development on a sequel. Sam Raimi's brother Ivan wrote a treatment over two months, with Sam deciding to use the film to explore Peter learning that he is not a sinless vigilante, and that there also can be humanity in those he considers criminals.
Raimi also wanted Harry Osborn to be conflicted over fighting his best friend Peter and becoming a New Goblin. He'd be somewhere in the middle. For the villains, Raimi wanted to have the Sandman and the Vulture. Raimi found the former to be a visually interesting character and decided to have him be the true killer of Uncle Ben to increase Peter's guilt over Ben's death and challenge his simplistic perception of the event (this is the only Raimi contribution that truly did suck). For the Vulture, Ben Kingsley was all set to play him (which would've been pretty damn cool).
Then, Sony and Avi Arad decided to fuck with Raimi's vision. Arad forced Raimi to include Venom into the film because Venom was a fan favorite and Arad felt that Venom was the character we all wanted to see. Avi Arad, go fuck yourself. Speaking as a fan and for all the fans out there, we didn't want Venom. We wanted Venom done right (i.e. Spider-Man: The Animated Series). Not to mention, Venom didn't fit into the story Sam Raimi was trying to tell because Venom had no humanity.
Arad and the dumbasses at Sony also wanted Raimi to introduce Gwen Stacy and her police captain father out of nowhere because they felt that these were two characters we all wanted to see and they were also fan favorites. Again, Avi Arad and Sony, go fuck yourselves. We didn't want Gwen Stacy and Captain Stacy. We wanted them done right (i.e. The Amazing Spider-Man). Sony also forced Raimi to just have Harry be a villain and make him a New Goblin. Good God, do I hate this studio.
Soon, the script and all these new ideas and characters that had nothing to do with Sam Raimi's original vision were sent to screenwriter Alvin Sargent, who worked on the previous two Spider-Man films (and even on The Amazing Spider-Man). Sargent had to find a way to mesh all of this together, but had a hard time doing so. Hell, he even considered splitting it into two films. However, when Sargent's idea reached Sony, they said no because Sargent apparently couldn't give them a good-enough climax for the end. Soon, casting began, and thus, Spider-Man 3 was made... and it was crap.
Now, what did I like about this film? The action sequences and visual effects are top-notch (no surprise there), it's beautifully shot by director Sam Raimi and cinematographer Bill Pope, the score by Danny Elfman and Christopher Young is probably one of the best scores for any superhero film, and some of the acting (mainly James Franco, Topher Grace, Thomas Haden Church, Rosemary Harris, Dylan Baker, J.K. Simmons, and James Cromwell) is okay. However, there aren't enough good things in this film to warrant a positive rating.
Okay, so what happens in this film? Here's my answer: What doesn't happen in this film? They've got enough shit in here to fill in three other Spider-Man movies. Seriously, so much random shit happens in this movie that I could most likely turn this review into a huge mess. So, I'm gonna list the thirteen things in this film that pissed me off the most.
Problem #1: The lather, rinse, repeat formula. This is a formula that plagues films like The Matrix Revolutions, Pirates of the Caribbean: At World's End, and Transformers: Revenge of the Fallen, films that have way too much going on, and it occurs when filmmakers decide to jam-pack their films so full of crap that they have absolutely no idea what to do with half of it. So they'll show something, get it out of the movie until they hit a roadblock later on, and then bring it up again so they can pretend as if they know what they're doing. Lather, rinse, repeat: a formula that remains a true testament to poor filmmaking and screenwriting.
This is something that plagues Spider-Man 3 throughout its runtime (well, up until the climax where everything just turns into a clusterfuck). For example, we first focus on Peter and Mary Jane, then we focus on Flint Marko, then we focus on Harry as the Goblin, Harry gets amnesia so we can focus on Eddie Brock, then back to Peter and Mary Jane, then back to Harry, then back to Flint Marko who's now Sandman, then back to Eddie Brock, then onto Gwen Stacy, then back to Peter and Mary Jane, then back to Harry, then back to Sandman, then back to Eddie Brock, and fuck me, this is dumb.
It just keeps going and going in that same repetitive formula, thus seriously testing my patience. It never takes a break, it never stays focused, and never once is there anything resembling a cohesive narrative. Instead of saving all this random shit that can easily cover at least three other movies, they just jam-pack it all in here and expect us to not know that this was lazily written. Sony made Sam Raimi and Alvin Sargent cram all of this into the script, and believe me, it shows.
Now, throwing in many characters into a single film can work if you develop the story arc in a way that's coherent. For example, in Batman Returns, director Tim Burton and screenwriters Sam Hamm, Daniel Waters, and Wesley Strick develop the characters of Batman/Bruce Wayne, Catwoman, Max Schreck, and Penguin, but they didn't stuff any of them into a corner just to use them as needed. Their characters and storylines are all being developed simultaneously in one overarching tale, therefore having each character keep our attention, while still maintaining a coherent balance.
Spider-Man 3 doesn't do this. It doesn't develop its characters at all, really. It instead opts to throw characters away and focus on others just to bring those characters back around again. It's because of this jumbled mess of a structure that the film's message gets lost in translation. The film was trying to be about choosing forgiveness over revenge. This is a great message for a Spider-Man film, but this plot and lack of coherency doesn't do the message any sort of justice.
Problem #2: Mary Jane being a dumb, unlikeable bitch. Now, I liked what they were going for: having Mary Jane need support given to her instead of her giving support to others. However, it's hard for me to give her sympathy because she's such an insufferable cunt in this movie. It all begins when her Broadway performance is panned by critics (which is total bullshit given that there was applause when she was singing). Peter tries to support her and make her feel better, but all she does is bitch and whine.
"You were great. That's a critic. This is something you're gonna have to get used to. Believe me, I know. Spider-Man gets attacked all the time."
"This isn't about you. This is about me. This is about my career."
"I know, and I'm just saying, you can't let it bring you down. You just gotta believe in yourself. You gotta pull yourself together and get right back on the horse."
"Don't give me the horse thing. Try to understand how I feel."
HE DOES UNDERSTAND HOW YOU FEEL, YOU DUMB FUCK. Jesus Christ.
This mode of hers is kept throughout most of the movie, almost never wavering. As a matter of fact, there is only one scene where Mary Jane being a bitch is completely justified (more on this when we get to Problem #3). But the crowning achievement of sheer idiocy comes when Harry gets his memory back and threatens Mary Jane to break up with Peter or else he'll kill Peter. Good holy fuck, where do I even begin? Not only does this not make any sense whatsoever because Harry was planning to kill Peter anyway, but it makes even less sense when you take into account that MARY JANE KNOWS THAT PETER IS SPIDER-MAN.
She is aware that he deals with shit like this on a regular basis. It comes with the territory. Bitch, instead of following Harry's dumb-ass plan, how about going to Peter and telling him that Harry has his memory back, wants to kill him, threatened to kill you, and is right over there? What was stopping you? Compared to the Green Goblin and Doc Ock, I think Harry is much less of a threat than they were. GROW A FUCKING BRAIN. Mary Jane was always a productive, inactive character that only existed for Peter to save, and will prove to be the same in this film later on, but at least in the first two films, I could tolerate her. In this film, she was just nothing short of detestable. Fuck her.
Problem #3: Peter kissing Gwen Stacy. This is the one scene where Mary Jane being a bitch is completely justified. Not only is this contrived bullshit to make Mary Jane even more of a cunt than before, but this is completely out-of-character for Peter. Why would Peter kiss Gwen at the obvious risk of losing Mary Jane, the woman he fought tooth and nail to be with throughout this whole series? This makes no sense. It just makes Peter look like an asshole. You could argue that Peter maybe didn't know that she was looking, but here's an actual piece of dialogue from the film that proves you wrong:
"I'm gonna be swinging in from over there."
"So you know where to look."
Yes, folks. Apparently, he wanted her to see this. He wanted her to see him kissing another woman. My God, what a douchebag.
Problem #4: Gwen Stacy being railroaded into the plot for no reason. My favorite female character in the entire Spider-Man mythos is Gwen Stacy. She's smart, beautiful, interesting, proactive, and just an all-around great character. I always found her to be a better love interest than Mary Jane. I love Gwen Stacy. However, I don't love whoever the fuck this was supposed to be. Seriously, were they even trying?
Bryce Dallas Howard, although beautiful and really giving it her all, doesn't act the part, and the character is totally backwards. The reason Peter and Gwen had a relationship in the first place is because they share a unique intelligence and a love for science. It's what attracts Gwen to Peter and vice versa. Here, Gwen Stacy is portrayed as an airhead who, by her own admission, would be failing college without Peter's help.
Yeah, let's just slap her on screen with no understanding of what makes her a great character instead of doing this character right. Just make her a brainless model for Spider-Man to save, for Peter Parker to make Mary Jane jealous later on, and for Eddie Brock to feel tortured (because the story he had in the comics wasn't dark and traumatizing enough). In this film, Gwen is not a character. She is just a cheap plot device. She exists only to force more unnecessary crap into the plot, and in retrospect, was not needed. To see one of my favorite Spider-Man characters portrayed this way fucking disgusts me.
Problem #5: The crane scene. Although a visually spectacular sequence, this is a scene that I have to go note-by-note and do dash points with because there is too much wrong with it.
- The photographer complaining about the swinging bar being in his background before the swinging bar even appears in his background
- Gwen Stacy is a supermodel instead of an intelligent scientist (more of a personal nitpick, but fuck it, who cares)
- The swinging bar was moving at two miles per hour on the crane and yet was able to take out an entire level of the building
- Topher Grace is Eddie Brock (the textbook definition of miscast)
- Captain Stacy's reaction to his daughter hanging off the building and trying not to fall to her certain doom: "What's she doing up there?" (you know, a little compassion wouldn't kill you, IT'S YOUR DAUGHTER UP THERE FOR CRYING OUT LOUD)
- The crane going up the building makes no sense, because out of control or not, it was moving in a completely different direction earlier and was in a much higher location
- Spider-Man exiting the city even though he still has a crane to stop
- The people cheering even though there were people that got hit by the falling debris from the building (come on, even Man of Steel acknowledged that people were injured and killed because of the city destruction)
Problem #6: Sandman's transformation scene (more so the events leading up to it). Yet another scene I have to go point-by-point with. First of all, the scientists are doing an experiment on sand? What's the experiment for? It's never addressed. Apparently, the whole thing was set up to make sand move in a circular motion for no reason. Until Marko arrived, they didn't have anything in the reactor for the sand to react with, so I ask again, what was the experiment for? What, were they just begging something would jump in there at the most convenient time possible for them to do anything relevant? I'm not stupid.
Second, Marko just happens to climb over a fence and into the facility. Yeah, because it's not like a top-secret military experiment would be protected by guards and a thick wall to prevent people from trespassing. Third, instead of climbing over the fence like Marko was easily able to do with no problem, the cops after him try to find a way around the fence. Dumbasses. Fourth, when Marko falls into the reactor, the scientists have this reaction:
"There's a change in the silicon mass."
"It's probably a bird. It'll fly away when we fire it up."
Wow. Just wow. You know, I gotta tell ya, if an airplane pilot detected something by the turbines before takeoff, I really doubt that the pilot would assume that IT WAS A FUCKING BIRD. How about checking it out? Not to mention, you're supposed to be intelligent scientists, right? So, how in the flying fuck do you mistake the mass of a tall, burly convict with the mass of a bird? These are highly-funded government scientists? Sweet Jesus, no wonder our fucking economy's in the toilet.
Now, to be fair, when Flint becomes the Sandman, the effect is honestly rather chilling. Seeing him scream as he dissolves into sand for the first time is a really cool image. But even cooler is the image of him trying to regroup himself in the sand later on. I'll admit, I liked that scene and I was really digging the visual, up until they showed the locket. Yeah, evidently, Marko's clothes, belt buckle, and boots were dissolved into sand but not the locket for some fucking reason.
Problem #7: Sandman's daughter having no payoff. This was the only thing keeping me somewhat invested in this otherwise poorly-written character, and I say somewhat invested because even though I understand why he'd rob banks to get money for his daughter's... operation, I guess (I don't fucking know), he goes about it in such a dumb way. This guy needed money bad, and was eventually caught after robbing from the underground wrestling joint from the first film. Apparently, that's where the real money is and not banks.
We'll go back to this later. Let's just focus on the daughter. It's revealed in Marko's introduction scene that he has a sick daughter that he hasn't seen in years, and was sent to prison after stealing money (I'm still guessing operation, because the movie never addresses this). They never explain what she has or what her true condition is. They just say that she's his sick daughter. I will admit, I kinda liked the scene with Flint talking with his daughter.
You get the sense that he truly does care about her and that despite all the things he did, she still loves him. This is a very nice scene. So, it's so wonderful to know that this plot point is never resolved. They show this whole scene just to introduce this plot point and still, it has no payoff. They show us the locket to constantly remind us that he has a sick daughter, and still, there's no payoff.
He says at the end of the movie that the only thing that still matters to him is his daughter and still, no fucking payoff whatsoever. What was even the point of this? This isn't real sympathy, this is artificial sympathy. It's just there to give our villain some sort of motive and story arc that never resolves itself and ultimately just wastes our time. This is not a story, this is not a character. This is time filler.
Problem #8: Harry Osborn. Everything done with this character in this film is downright retarded. We first see him on the balcony overlooking Mary Jane's performance and giving both her and Peter an evil smile. Then, we get this:
"I need to talk to you. Explain things."
"Tell it to my father. Raise him from the dead."
I'm gonna assume that this takes place a year after the events of Spider-Man 2. How have you not talked about this yet? It's not just Harry, it's Peter too. Moron, he knows you're Spider-Man and thinks you killed his father, so talking to him about this should've been your first priority after the previous film, you fucking idiot. Oh, and Harry, if you know Peter is Spider-Man and you want your dad avenged, why don't you use your power and expose him? You know Jameson hates Spider-Man. He'd eat the story up in a heartbeat. But fuck it, who cares, right?
Also since Spider-Man 2, Harry has invented his own glider and because the original Goblin mask wasn't cheesy and lame enough, he now wears a paintball mask. Oh, so we went from a Power Rangers villain to an actual Power Ranger. Top-notch, guys. I also find it funny how Harry flunked out of so many schools and yet has the knowledge to invent these things. This is not only bizarre, but inconsistent.
Harry steps into the chamber and takes the same performance-enhancing formula his father took, and it doesn't make him batshit insane for some reason. Care to explain that one, movie? We know this shit makes people crazy. Why doesn't it make Harry crazy? Oh, you're not going to explain? Okay, fine, whatever. Harry attacks Peter, and to be fair, this is a great action sequence. Sam Raimi knows how to shoot action well.
However, it's what the scene leads to that kills it for me: Harry getting amnesia. Because the movie needs to shove him away in the closet so we can focus on other shit. Nah, we can't just have Harry be the main villain in this film and save Venom and the symbiote for a sequel. Oh, hell no. Let's just give Harry amnesia for now, because it's not like this is the most overused soap opera copout in existence.
Fuck this shit. It's not even that he gets amnesia. He conveniently remembers nothing past his father dying. But wait! It gets better! He doesn't remember that he blames Spider-Man for the death of his father. Oh, what are the odds? Now, if they were doing this for a purpose, it could've worked. If they had Harry faking the amnesia in order to get close to Peter and take him out when he least expected it, that would've been awesome and diabolical. But no, we don't get that. We just get Harry pushed to the side for most of the film until the movie runs out of ideas and needs him again.
But wait! It gets even better! When the movie finally does need him again, and the amnesia wears off, he threatens Mary Jane to break up with Peter. Because, you know, it's not like he could just go to Peter's apartment and kill him when he's in the shower or something, or maybe reveal that Peter is Spider-Man to the public like a smart person would do. So when Mary Jane follows this plan and says to Peter that she's in love with someone else, Peter goes to Harry for comfort and Harry reveals that he's the other guy.
What idiot would buy this? It's bad enough Mary Jane went along with this stupid plan, but couldn't she just call Peter later, and probably say, "I didn't mean what I said earlier. Harry has his memory back. He tried to kill me and wants to kill you." I know I'm reiterating what I said when I was discussing Problem #2, but my God, it/s that stupid and nonsensical. So Peter buys into this for a bit until he confronts Harry in his mansion and throws a Pumpkin Bomb at him. This doesn't kill Harry, but it does get him out of the movie again. You know, so the film focus on other shit it doesn't need to, again.
So when the plot needs him again, Harry ends up teaming up with Peter for contrived reasons that I'll mention later, and ends up getting killed by Venom. Now technically, Harry dying could've worked, mainly because of how he dies. In the first film, Norman Osborn died being impaled by his own glider while trying to kill Spider-Man. Harry died being impaled by his own glider while saving Spider-Man's life. It was a way to bring the Goblin legacy full circle and have Harry redeem not just himself, but his father as well.
The reason this doesn't work is because there was no lead-up to it at all. If they had gone with Sam Raimi's original concept of having Harry be in the middle, conflicted with avenging his father and hurting his best friend, this would've been the perfect ending to Harry's story. But, I'm sorry, you can't have it both ways here. You can either make Harry an actual character with conflict or make him time filler. You made him time filler, you didn't lead up to this, and you didn't allude to this. You don't get to do this. Fuck you, movie.
Problem #9: That scene with Harry and Mary Jane dancing in the kitchen. What the fuck was that? Why was this in a Spider-Man movie? This was not developing the characters, this is not moving the story along, and this isn't even the least bit funny or charming. This is just time filler. There's nothing else for me to say. It's just these two dancing like jackasses and wasting our fucking time.
Problem #10: The butler scene. Now, Bernard (John Paxton) is Harry's butler. At the end of this film, when Peter comes to Harry for help, he says no, until:
"The night your father died, I cleaned his wound. The blade that pierced his body came from his glider. I know you're trying to defend your father's honor, but there's no question that he died by his own hand."
My God, what an asshole. You knew this the whole time and didn't say anything? Are you fucking kidding me? You could've saved people time, resources, and their lives just by telling Harry the truth from the get-go. Hell, you went of our way to say this to Harry in the previous film:
"Your father only obsessed over his work."
Yeah! You know he obsessed he was over killing Spider-Man. All you fucking had to do was open your mouth. Now, there was originally a reason for this that was cut out of the film at the last minute, but ultimately could've redeemed this and made it something meaningful. The original idea for Bernard was that he was a figment of Harry's imagination. Bernard was originally intended to be the part of Harry's mind that wouldn't let him realize that his father killed himself.
It would make sense for Harry to be the one that cleaned his father's wound since he was the one that found the body. That's an ingenious idea. Not only is it original, but it's also very thought-provoking, and would've instilled Harry with the concept of denial, not being able to accept who his father was or what his father did, and that Spider-Man was indeed innocent. I would've loved to see that and the movie would've been all the better for it. But no, they didn't do that. Bernard is a real person, which is made evident when he shakes Peter's hand in an earlier scene, who could've just opened his mouth and made this whole thing go away.
Problem #11: Sandman being Uncle Ben's killer. This was the only contribution by Sam Raimi that, I will admit, truly sucked. It was his idea to challenge the simplicity of Ben's death by having Flint Marko be the true killer. But there's a problem with that. In the first film, the police knew it was a carjacking, which obviously means that they saw it happen. They saw the shooting and the guy getting away in the car, and yet, none of them saw the big, burly motherfucker walking away with the murder weapon? Sorry. Not buying it.
And by the way, does ballistics exist in the universe this film franchise takes place in? Because if it did, they could've easily matched up the carjacker's gun to the bullet that killed Uncle Ben. They should've known from the get-go if this guy was the real killer or not. Do cops do their fucking jobs in this universe? Well, evidently not, because even though they managed to tie Flint Marko to the Ben Parker homicide months ago, they waited until he escaped from prison to tell Peter and Aunt May.
Good fucking God, no wonder the city needs Spider-Man. Apparently, every cop and scientist there is a feeble-minded idiot. Oh, but it gets better! At the end, Sandman reveals that it was all an accident and that he didn't mean to shoot Uncle Ben. Now, you'd think Spider-Man would try to have him answer for his crimes, like a good hero would do, but no, he forgives him and lets him rob more banks and shit. Yeah, it's all Spider-Man's fault. Give this moron a fucking round of applause.
Look, I know this goes back to the concept of forgiveness over revenge, but there is a serious limit. You don't just assume right away that the guy who killed your uncle is telling you the truth and let him go without so much as batting an eyelash. That's bullshit. There's a difference between being forgiving and being stupid, and Peter is clearly stupid. This is just a cheap excuse to tie this villain to our hero. It was lazy, asinine, and beyond forced.
Problem #12: Eddie Brock and Venom. Don't act so surprised, y'all knew this was coming. Before we get into this, I want to give you a little background on Eddie Brock's character. I have a point to make. In the comics, Eddie Brock was someone who ran into a stream of bad luck. He was far from perfect, but he wasn't a lying dick either. Eddie Brock has one of the most depressing backstories in comic book history.
His bad luck begins when a man claiming to be the Sin Eater contacts him. However, when Brock writes an exposé on this guy, it doesn't take long for Spider-Man to capture the real Sin Eater, resulting in Brock being fired in disgrace. He didn't lie. He wasn't dishonest. He was just given bad information and suffered for it. He was a victim of circumstance. Soon after, Eddie's wife divorced him, his father cut all ties with him, and he had to work for tabloid magazines in shame.
He blames Spider-Man for capturing the real Sin Eater, but his blaming on Spider-Man was merely a way to help him cope with his severe depression, and when he started to feel good about himself, when he started weightlifting and getting in shape, when he starts to take back his life, he found out he had cancer. Good God. Believe it or not, there's more. Eddie was contemplating suicide at this point (I don't blame him), but this led to him going to a church and ultimately begging God for forgiveness.
But of course, this was the same time that Spider-Man was removing the symbiote and it didn't take long for the alien lifeform to find its way to Eddie. Feeling rejected, the symbiote sought revenge on Spider-Man through Eddie Brock, and Brock's coping mechanism of blaming Spider-Man became something very literal. The symbiote was a way for Eddie to take back his life after everything he went through.
There was meaning behind Venom. There was meaning behind the bond Eddie shared with the symbiote. It turned someone powerless and on the verge of suicide into a strong warrior, and he called himself Venom because that was what he was forced to spew out to the public at the time. That is Venom. How does the film handle this character?
He fakes a picture of Spider-Man robbing a bank and gets fired for it. He blames Peter not only for that, but for stealing a woman who wasn't even his. He talks about her as if he wants to marry her but isn't even in a relationship with her. Then, he goes to the church just like he did in the comics, and he asks God, I'm dead serious, to kill Peter.
Movie, go fuck yourself. This is not a character with a depressing backstory anymore. This is a not a villain I can sympathize for. This is just a slimy, creepy, dishonest jackass putting the blame on everybody but himself. Where's the emotional connection? There is none. He just gets the suit and vows revenge. There's no talk of his addiction to the suit, there's no talk of what the suit does to him, and you can't even argue that the suit makes him a bad person who does bad things. He was a bad person who did bad things before he got the suit. I can't believe how badly they botched this character.
Now, I don't blame Topher Grace for this. He's a good actor. In this film, he doesn't do a bad job acting-wise. He was fine. My problem was that he was seriously miscast and the way they had him play Eddie Brock was irritating and obnoxious. I couldn't care less that he was too scrawny and short to play Venom. I care that he acts nothing like Eddie Brock.
If they had gotten the character right personality-wise, I could've easily gotten over the actor's size. Wolverine is 5'3'' in the comics and 6'5'' Hugh Jackman does a great job playing him. Fuck, Eddie doesn't even call himself Venom or speak like Venom. Venom always speaks as two people because it's two separate personalities sharing the same thoughts, the personality of Eddie Brock and the personality of the symbiote. But in this film, it's just Topher Grace acting like a dick. There is nothing resembling Eddie Brock or Venom in this. Oh, and here's Venom's plan:
"I want to kill the Spider. You want to kill the Spider. Together, we have a chance. Interested?"
WHEN DID THEY IMPLY OR ESTABLISH THAT SANDMAN WANTED TO KILL SPIDER-MAN? This plan from the get-go makes no fucking sense! But of course, the plot needs Sandman to want Spider-Man dead, so his plan goes along just A-OK, hunky-dory. Why didn't Venom seek the aid of someone who does want Spider-Man dead, you know, like say, HARRY FUCKING OSBORN?
Now onto their next phase: kidnapping Mary Jane. Yeah, because I haven't seen that done to death yet. Let's just do that. Fucking wonderful. It's not like he should kidnap someone who he truly resents by now, someone he feels rejected by, you know, like say, Gwen Stacy? FUCKING DUH! But here's the most insulting thing: the fans finally see Venom (or at least, the most dumbed-down version of him imaginable) on the big screen for the first time. But instead of seeing Venom, 90% of the time, he has his face peeled back to reveal Topher Grace. What a fucking joke.
Now, here's the thing: Sam Raimi is not to blame for this entirely. He was forced to include the character in the film even though he didn't want to. The reason he didn't want to is because he doesn't like Venom. He doesn't like the character. Raimi grew up on Silver Age Spider-Man villains, so those were the villains he wanted to use. It's more than obvious watching this character that he's being represented by someone who doesn't like him.
It's a spit in the face to the fans, but as much as I should hold Raimi's feet to the fire here, I'd rather blame the real enemies here: producer Avi Arad and the fuckwits at Sony. What's strange is that they railroaded Gwen Stacy into the plot to give Eddie a "better" backstory, when they could've just done what was in the comics and had something that was actually meaningful.
In fact, when you factor in that Raimi wanted Peter to see the humanity in the villains he faces, Eddie Brock's original backstory would've worked just fine for that, but not with Sandman and New Goblin crowding the movie as well. If they got rid of Sandman entirely, they may have had something here, or if they wanted to keep Sandman in, this should've been two movies, as Alvin Sargent had originally planned.
Problem #13 (this is the big one): Peter Parker and the symbiote. First of all, the symbiote coming from a meteorite that just happened to land close to Peter and Mary Jane? Bullshit. I can understand not wanting to go through the hassle of adapting Secret Wars, as that would take three movies to do it any sort of justice. But why not do what Spider-Man: The Animated Series did? In that version, Jameson's son brought the symbiote back with him from space. When Spider-Man saved him from the shuttle crash, the symbiote bonded with him.
J. Jonah Jameson, Jr. was set up in Spider-Man 2. How about actually using him for something? That's actually why I figured he was in Spider-Man 2. I thought they were gonna be setting up Venom. But no, in a cheap and lazy screenwriting copout, the symbiote just lands on a meteorite. Wow, what are the fucking odds? So about an hour into the film, we finally see the symbiote bond with Peter, or at least to his clothes, and this just turns him into a goofy, compulsive, comic-relief shithead.
For those of you who don't know, it may shock and amaze you to discover that the symbiote is not evil. It's animalistic and driven by pure instinct. It has no basis of right and wrong. Its instinct is to survive and it needs a host to do so. Now, if the person it bonds with is evil, it will enhance the evil nature of that person, which is why Carnage is so evil. Now, the symbiote enhances aggression in its hosts as a survival mechanism, which you could say does happen in Spider-Man 3, but it doesn't turn you into a total dick. It just makes you more aggressive.
What the movie also fails to mention is why Peter enjoys being bonded with the symbiote. It enhances his strength, his agility, and his endurance. It becomes the equivalent of crack to him. It's an addiction. It's like a drug. This is why he has so much trouble taking it off and getting rid of it. They never address that in the film, not even once. Because they never address the addiction, we never see the personal struggle within Peter's mind as the symbiote slowly starts impairing his judgment.
By the way, Alvin Sargent, that's your midpoint. That's your climax for your first film. The dream sequence should've been the climax of this film, leading to a fourth Spider-Man with Venom as the main villain. For fuck's sake, the film's tagline is "The Greatest Battle Lies From Within". Show us the battle lying from within. The dream sequence is one of the darkest and most memorable moments in the entire mythology of Spider-Man.
Instead of wasting our time with Harry having amnesia, Eddie Brock being a worthless asshole, and Sandman being a plot device, build up Eddie Brock the right way, make New Goblin the main villain, have Peter bond with the suit, and have Peter beat Harry within an inch of his life. Make that the moment where Peter realizes the symbiote is making him worse, forcing him to try and take it off.
Then, have the dream sequence, show him purging the suit from his body, and end your movie on Eddie becoming Venom. If you ended this film on that, we would have this film make a billion dollars worldwide and we would've been the first online to see the next one. But no, we got everything spoon-fed, forced, and simplified to an enraging and insulting degree instead of something that could've been truly great and special. Also, the symbiote bonding in this movie is incredibly inconsistent (he peels it off like a band-aid at first, yet has trouble taking it off when at the church).
The most insulting thing is this line from Peter:
"I've done terrible things too."
NO, YOU HAVEN'T, YOU FUCKING IDIOT. You haven't done anything bad in this entire movie. Hitting Harry with a Pumpkin Bomb is justified because Harry was trying to kill you twice in that scene. It's called self-defense. Turning Brock in and having him get fired is justified because he lied and used one of your photos to make a fake one. He was dishonest. You would've turned him in for this, Black Suit or not. Yeah, you hit Mary Jane, but it was just an accident. You swung around and she just happened to be in the way. It's not like you sucker-punched him when she was singing on stage.
The only bad things you did were dancing like a moronic jackass down Fifth Avenue (one of the worst scenes in any film ever made) and doing that fucking stupid dance in the nightclub. Okay, you kissed Gwen Stacy, but you didn't have the Black Suit yet, so that doesn't even count. You haven't done bad things in this movie. Go fuck yourself.
You know what? I'll go a step further! According to this dung heap of a film's logic, the guy he let go in the first movie didn't even kill Uncle Ben, so I guess you didn't do anything bad there either. So now, the whole point, the entire basis for you being Spider-Man, due to your own responsibility and guilt, is completely null and void. FUCK. THIS. MOVIE.
FINAL SCORE: 3/10
So after all of that ranting, do I loathe this movie? No. I don't think it's the worst film ever. Do I hate it? Yes. It's without a shadow of a doubt the worst Spider-Man film. However, I did like the action, I did enjoy the visuals, I did like the music, and I didn't even mind some of the acting. But I still hate this film. Not only is it a poor adaptation, but just a mess of a film in general.
This is honestly one of the worst-structured films I have ever seen, period. And words cannot describe how baffled I am that this got a 63% on Rotten Tomatoes. Yes, most critics enjoyed this film. I really don't get it. If you like this movie, that's fine, more power to you (no matter how sad I think that is). But I just can't understand why. It juggles random characters that have no purpose and simplifies its source material to a despicable degree. The message is supposed to be about forgiveness, and even that is half-assed. This film is a clusterfucked disaster.
By the way, the next time someone tells you that The Amazing Spider-Man 2 is worse than this, do yourself a favor and slap them across the face with a copy of this movie. Good night, folks.