I’m so very happy that this marvelous, flawless series of movies could go out on such a high note, uniting fans and critics, worldwide, into a consensus that the Spider-Man trilogy only got better with every movie and is one of the best trilogies of all time. (Comes down from absinthe high, realizes the horror of the situation, opts to drink more absinthe). 

Spider-Man 3 sees Peter Parker living the good life: the public has embraced Spider-Man as a hero and he’s finally got the girl, who he now intends to propose to. But a big clusterfuck of trouble is brewing. His friend Harry is gunning for him, using his father’s Goblin gear and a strange black, alien goo has attached itself to him, enhancing his powers and rage. Which is convenient since he’s going through some personal issues after finding out Flint Marko a.k.a Sandman is the real killer of his uncle Ben. If I listed the billion other things that happen, this synopsis would be as long as the movie.
Two things need to be made clear before we proceed:

  1. This is not a good movie
  2. I know it’s not the popular thing, but I don’t really hate Spider-Man 3

People tend to act like Spider-Man 3 is some crazy curveball out of left field. It’s not. Spider-Man 3 is the natural progression of all the bad things established in the original Spider-Man come to a head, almost as if Spider-Man 2 was the fluke. Ridiculously corny lines, camera shots and music montages involving pelvic thrusts. Characters bursting into ugly crying every twenty minutes for no believable reason. Lack of general narrative focus. They all peeked through in the first two movies and have overtaken part 3 like a virus, and are ultimately what people will remember most about this movie.

Spider-Man 3 crams so much frickin’ material in that it reaches the point where everything becomes diluted and unsatisfying.

Their biggest mistake was to introduce the black suit and Venom. Let it be known that I’ve never joined the Venom fanboy train. That character is essentially a bigger, badder version of Spider-Man and not much more; not very innovative and not a terribly creative final threat to introduce at the very end of your trilogy.

In all the history of overlong, indulgent and baggage carrying comic book stories, the Symbiote/Venom storyline is one that belongs in a museum for people to ogle at and wonder. So, even with the revision that the goo just happened to land in meteor nearby Peter and MJ, as opposed to getting the black suit in this crazy-ass superhero war in outer space, there’s still too much to cover (satisfyingly) in one movie.

Complicating matters is the inclusion of Sandman. With Doc Ock, it was ok to create some back story that gives Peter a personal connection to him because he was one of about three things that was happening in Spider-Man 2. With Sandman, it’s another forced layer of complexity and the revelation that he only does bad because his little daughter is dying comes off as just one more cheap ploy. With two villains that already share a major personal connection with Spider-Man, it wouldn’t have been a bad idea to have Sandman be a minor villain who just does villainous shit.

The love triangle, or hexagon, or whatever the fuck it is, paints the characters, especially Mary Jane, in a really unflattering light. If these dummies would just talk to each other and not act like pouty children there wouldn’t be all this unnecessary conflict. Gwen Stacy is introduced for no real reason other than to be another arguing point for Peter and MJ, while tying her to Eddie Brock doesn’t succeed in making her any more relevant.

The only storyline that reaches satisfying(ish) levels is Harry’s. They finally came to the conclusion they meant for at the end of the saga, but not without its bumps and bruises. Having Harry get amnesia for a good hour of the movie is just a little too convenient of a way to shift the focus away from him, while showing his happy-go-lucky side in order to re-endear us to him. And throwing him into the love traingle shape(?) lion pit again, brief as it may be, is too familiar and taxing. But, I will dole out some respect for Raimi and co. for deciding to send him out in the way that makes the most sense and delivers (what should have been) the biggest emotional impact.

Spider-Man stands in awe of the massive problems 

The reason this movie isn’t a complete loss for me is the action set pieces. Much of my enjoyment of these movies rests on them and this is one of few things Spider-Man 3 delivers on. The visual effects are finally up to a point where I still think they look good by today’s standards. The Sandman opened the door for some unique effects (along with physics quandaries) and the symbiote looked and felt legitimately alive.  Likewise, all the fights are staged to perfection, giving us the most adrenaline-fueled climax of all three.

As weird as it sounds, I dug the atmosphere of 3. The cinematography, music and editing all made it feel like a Spider-Man movie should. I felt they gave it a distinctive identity this time around. It’s just a shame these great visual assets came with a movie so flawed in content.

I can stomach this movie more than others, it would seem, but it doesn’t change the fact that Spider-Man 3 is a cautionary tale. Beware of studios influence, trying to cram in extra villains. Beware of over reaching with your story-telling capabilities. Beware of going overboard on your directorial quirks. And most of all, beware of fucking up on the third entry and inciting the ire of fans everywhere. God, I don’t know how long I could go on in this world if The Dark Knight Rises submits to the threequel curse.


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