I know that I’m going to get shot in front of my family for this one. Because when it comes to trilogy-cappers, Spider-Man 3 is generally considered one of the very worst movies out there with a 3 attached to the title. Too many villains, stupid story arcs and a general pervasiveness emo-ness have left a sour taste in the mouths of many fans.
But the thing is, Spider-Man 3 isn’t actually anywhere near as bad as what the critics have made it out to be.
Peter Parker has finally managed to piece together the once-broken parts of his life, maintaining a balance between his relationship with Mary-Jane and his responsibility as Spider-Man. But more challenges arise for our young hero.
Peter’s old friend Harry Osborne has set out for revenge against Peter; taking up the mantle of his late father’s persona as The New Goblin, and Peter must also capture Uncle Ben’s real killer, Flint Marko, 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.
Let’s start with the negatives, and get the junk out of the way. Spider-Man 3, is the very essence of too many cooks spoiling the pot. Parker going through mood shifts quicker than a teenager hitting puberty. Emo Parker. Pulling a Mandela and a theme of forgiveness running throughout the film that deals with Uncle Ben’s death being watered down like festival beer.
But for all the bad moments and screen time given to Kirsten Dunst, Spider-Man 3 got a lot more right in contrast. Take a look at the two primary villains, Sandman and Venom. I liked Topher Grace as Eddie Brock/Venom. Looking back, he played the kind of character that Tobey Maguire was supposed to embody as Peter Parker.
That was a great performance from Grace, who despite clearly realising that he was wearing Dracula fangs at one point, made it all work. As the anti-Spider-Man, Grace was a fantastic darker reflection of Parker, even if he was practically shoehorned in by Sony. And then you’ve got Sandman.
It’s a lot to swallow, admittedly. Yes, it kind of ruins the driving motivation behind Spidey and his great responsibilty schctick, but in a way, it also added a level of emotion to the film in total. Sandman as played by Thomas Haden Church, takes a character that is ridiculous in the comics, and makes him something more human and dangerous, despite the fact that he happens to be a living cat litter box.
He’s not that much of a bad guy really. All he wants is to save his daughter. That’s his driving force, his goal in life, and it’s summed up beautifully in one scene where he literally wills himself back on two feet just so that he can save her.
And most importantly, Raimi finally allowed Gwen Stacy into his movie. I never really enjoyed Kirsten Dunst as Mary Jane. To me, she was a bigger villain than Green Goblin, Doc Ock, Sandman and Venom combined. It’s a little too late to really have Gwen in this particular version of the franchise, but at least she’s there, and Bryce Dallas Howard did a fine job portraying her.
And overall, it’s hard to deny that on a technical level, the film is fantastic. You’ve got some great audio coming in from Christopher Young and Danny Elfman, while the action itself is slick and intense. Spider-Man 3 tried to do too much too quickly when it boils down to the bare facts.
But it got a lot of things right when it was making mistakes. Plus, Parker dancing always brings a smile to my face.