Hello interweb, Nate here! So yeah, finally finished rewatching the Sam Raimi Spider-man trilogy. You could probably see this coming a mile away but: Spider-man 2 is by far the best film of the series, Spider-man being second, and Spider-man 3 being the most disappointing film of the three. But is it really as bad as everybody remembers? SPOILER WARNING and leggo!
Movie Title: Spider-man 3
Produced by: Marvel Comics
Distributed by: Columbia Pictures
Writer: Sam Raimi, Ivan Raimi, and Alvin Sargent
Director: Sam Raimi
Producer: Laura Ziskin, Avi Arad, and Grant Curtis
Running Time: 2 hrs 19 min
You know, while reviewing Spider-man and Spider-man 2 I kept saying one thing at the very beginning of each review: I forgot how good these movies are. I legitimately haven’t seen these movies since I was in my single digits and because of that I don’t think I was fully capable of really recognizing the greatness in those films. Because of this, when looking back on Spider-man 3 I legit think I probably liked the movie when I was 8 (since that’s how old I was when the film first came out) but over the years of being told how horrible it was I’ve just been thinking back on it as a much worse film then it actually is. So yeah I’m saying it again…kinda: I forgot how kinda-ish not horrible this film is. It’s definitely no where near as good as the other two, but when watching this movie I could see so much potential for a movie that could’ve been better if not about as good as Spider-man 2. However, there’s so many glaring problems with the film that it’s easy to see why so many people hate it. Because there are elements within this movie that are actually done very well so I hesitate to call it “awful”. But there is awful elements within the film that calling it “great” wouldn’t be accurate either. Because of this, while I enjoyed the first too more, I just find this film more interesting in just how much went right and wondering why so much went wrong.
So what’s the story? Well here comes our first issue, what isn’t the story? What the movie gives us is that Spider-man has became a famous hero within the city of New York and all this fame has gotten to Peter’s head causing his ego to grow to the size of those Thanksgiving Parade balloons from the first movie. While this is going on, Harry Osbourne uses his father’s Green Goblin gear to attack Peter only to develop amnesia after a sudden fight. While this is going on, a criminal named Flint Marko breaks out of jail to visit his sick daughter only to wind up in a testing site that turns his body into living sand. And while that is going on (noticing a pattern here?), an alien symbiote crashes to Earth in a small asteroid (unusually quietly I might add) and attaches himself to Peter turning him into a complete jackass! I feel like this is the part where I parody those old-school comics and ask questions about what may happen later in the story, but where do I even start?
Now when watching this film over I was kinda surprised at how not-bad it is, especially at first. At the 1 hr point I even realized that up to that point it was shaping out to be a pretty good flick. The movie starts out with Mary Jane telling Peter how she’s struggling in her acting career and instead of listening to her he decides to constantly relate her career to his life as Spider-man. Which I thought was an okay way to start the story! Spider-man’s getting famous and Pete’s letting the fame get to his head? I can buy that! That opens up some interesting drama between Peter and MJ to play it during the movie.
The next part of the movie introduces Flint Marko. He escapes jail and immediately goes to visit his sick daughter. He then gets kicked out by his ex-wife and afterwords get caught up in a particle accelerator that turns his body into living sand. How that turns him into a sand monster rather than just straight up kill him is beyond me but that’s besides the point. This is honestly a great way to introduce what could’ve been the main villain of the movie and opens up potential for a sympathetic character.
Then, right after this Harry shows up with his father’s Green Goblin gear and fights Peter and tries to kill him. Now both Spider-man and Spider-man 2 has been building up his character to this point to for it to pay off here is what we were all hoping for. What we got instead was for him to gain amnesia and forget everything that happened in the previous films. And his amnesia is just a way for the writers to temporarily get rid of him until later in the film so they can give time to the other villains! This especially rings true when Spider-man, being effected by the symbiote at the time, tries to kill Sandman so flint is temporarily taken out of the picture long enough for Harry to regain his memory and go after Peter again.
And don’t think I forgot about mister symbiote over here. I was on board pretty much during the entire first hour of the movie, but once that symbiote attached to Peter everything went downhill. After the symbiote attaches to Peter, he becomes more violent, more angry, more cringey, and more unintentionally funny (cept I couldn’t laugh through all the physical cringing I was doing). After Peter gets rid of the symbiote, it attaches to Eddie Brock and turns him into Venom (which come to think of it I’m not completely sure if they even called him “Venom” or not).
I think this ultimately reveal the biggest issue with this movie. There’s too many villains and the villains who are here aren’t appropriately used. If I remember this correctly (too lazy to look it up to make sure this is accurate or not), Sam Raimi originally planned Spider-man 3 to be a Sandman/Vulture team up. However, higher executives demanded that he incorporate Venom into the third movie due to the high demand from the fans. So he decided to turn this film into a Sandman/Venom team up. The issue here is Venom is too complex of a character for him to ever be a team-up sort of villain. Venom honestly deserves the entire movie to focus on him if done properly with maybe minor villain to show off how violent the symbiote makes Peter. If Raimi wanted to do a Sandman team up, Vulture honestly would’ve worked way better since both characters are relatively uninteresting on their own and so having them team up in a movie could’ve worked. But having the symbiote to be the backbone of your movie only for Venom to get 10 minutes of screen time just to team up with Sandman is insulting to his character. Venom should be able to fight Spider-man by himself and be a huge challenge to him! I’ll discuss more of this when I go over Venom’s character later.
And then there’s Harry. The only reason his character is slightly less disappointing to me then Venom is because Venom is my favorite Spider-man villain. To see so much build up to this movie from the previous two and have his character be executed so poorly is just really sad to see. I would go into it more but then I wouldn’t have anything to talk about when I discuss his character later so I’ll get back to him.
Remember when I said in my Spider-man review that that film had to much cheese for me? Yeah, this film took that up to 11. All the scenes where Peter is dancing just didn’t work and was embarrassing to watch. I physically cringed in my seat during the jazz club scene!
The action was just kinda bleh. During the initial fight against Sandman, Sandman was super powerful so he easily took Spider-man down. In a normal Spider-man story, Spidey would come back with some plan to defeat this seemingly unbeatable villain. Instead, he fights him once again in the subway while wearing the black suite and for the last time in a weird team up with Venom. Hell, Pete had to be saved by a I-guess-now-good Harry using Green Goblin tech. Speaking of Harry, the action with him was actually rather fun to watch. Especially in the first fight where Peter is swinging around the city out of his costume (cause Harry surprised him) and Harry was zipping around on the glider.
Alright, let’s just get to the characters! Sandman and Harry had good set up for their characters but had too much problems that held them back in the end. Venom, despite having some elements faithful to the comics, was the worse one in this entire movie. The weird thing is I really don’t know what I would’ve done if I was in their shoes. They were planning on having a Spider-man 4 before this movie bombed so with that in mind we could’ve moved some villains to that movie. Sam Raimi really wanted to do a Sandman movie but I feel like he should’ve completed Harry’s character arc in this movie and then make Spider-man 4 a Venom movie. Maybe he could’ve had Venom and Sandman in the same movie but without the team up? If he wanted Sandman to have that sympathetic villain angle then that would be hard to do though.
Venom was my biggest disappointment with this movie so let’s discuss his character first. So is there anything this film did right with this character? Well, kind of. The fact that the symbiote drives Peter to be more vengeful towards Flint Marko when he finds out Flint killed his Uncle (we’ll get to that, hang on) and pushes Pete to try and kill him I did think could’ve worked. Making Eddie Brock fake that image of Spider-man and having Peter humiliate him also worked since this gives Eddie a vendetta against Peter for ruining him. The scene at the church was pulled straight out of the comics so I feel like that entire scene would’ve been praised by comic book fans of Venom was actually done well in this movie. But we have to sit through so much emo Peter that it just makes things hard to watch. The suit is suppose to make us scared for Peter at just how unhinge it makes him. Instead of feeling scared at how the symbiote is changing him, I’m cringing so hard at the ridiculousness of the dance moves and trying to hard. Once the suit attaches to Eddie Brock, things don’t get any better. First off, that voice coming out of that Venom is just so misplaced. They could’ve at least digitally alter it a bit! But the interesting thing about Venom is how Eddie hates Peter for ruining his career and the symbiote hates Peter for ditching it. Their duel hatred is what drives them to go after Spider-man and it just fell flat.
Sandman was set up to be a great villain but just landed flat. I could forgive the stupid stupid retcon, but the fact that this entire time his main motive was finding a way to help his sick daughter but for some reason he agreed to team up with Venom to try and kill Spider-man just didn’t work. It’s kind of hard to feel sorry for him in the final scene when he was pounding away at Spider-man for no good reason. After the brilliance of both Green Goblin and Doc Ock, Sandman could’ve been another character that beets the MCU in how well a villain could’ve been written.
The most frustrating part about Harry’s character, outside of the wasted build up, was how he keeps flip flopping throughout the movie. He starts out hating Spider-man, but then he gets amnesia and becomes Peter’s best friend, then he regains his memory and hates Spider-man again, only to team up with him in the end to save MJ. I mean, what? The amnesia was just a way to get rid of him long enough to focus on Sandman, which is stupid writing but whatever, but the final fight was just so cheesy I couldn’t forgive it.
Ok, I really need to end this review because I feel like I’m just rambling and repeating myself. Overall, the film gets a 6/10 for me. You can skip it and not miss anything. I only recommend it to die-hard Spider-man fans who wants to judge it for themselves. While there are good elements to the film that I still enjoy, there’s just too much wrong with it with too many villains and poor use of characters.
Next is The Amazing Spider-man! Lets see if that’s better!
My Rating System
10 – Perfect: nothing is wrong about this movie
9 – Almost perfect: has one or two minor nitpicks that holds it from perfection
8 – Amazing: not a perfect film but still absolutely loved it
7 – Good: has a few problems but overall a great film
6 – Ok: has several major problems but I still like it
5 – Mediocre: neither good nor bad just forgettable
4 – Bad: a few major problems that ruins the movie
3 – Awful: lots of problems that ruins the movie
2 – Terrible: there may be one or two good things about the film but everything else is garbage
1 – The worst: literally nothing went right