One Liner Review:

By far the worst of all the Spiderman movies, this one is fine when it comes to action, but other than that is almost painful to watch with its awful dialogue, and tons of pointless scenes that don’t even feel like they fit in the superhero genre.

Brief Review:

It’s a real shame that Thomas Hayden Church, of all people, got wasted in this movie. He could have been one of the best Spider Man villains to date, and yet the movie he got stuck in was overcrowded with Venom, a new Goblin villain, not only Mary Jane, but also Gwen Stacey, and a whole lot of wasted time. The story is all over the place here, and tries to cover so many different unconnected ideas. Peter Parker literally goes from proposing to Mary Jane, (or about to,) to taking another girl out to the night club where Mary Jane works to make her jealous, to getting back with her again. And this is supposed to be a superhero movie. The action is fine, but the dialogue and storytelling is incredibly weak. Even shoehorning a connection between the Sandman and Parker’s Uncle Ben, just to make it so that every villain has a personal connection to Peter Parker feels ridiculous. This movie has a lot of missteps, and really needed to be more focussed. Considering the first two movies each featured only one villain, and were both pretty good, they probably should have kept going with what worked, instead of trying to cram three villains in here with no real connection between any of them.

REVIEW:

Spider Man 3s biggest problem is not what people generally say it is. It’s not that there are too many villains or that the story is trying to do too much, or that they are telling too many stories about too many characters all at the same time. Sure, all of those things are true, but the movie still could have been successful despite those aspects. As far as featuring multiple villains, just look at two of the Batman movies…Batman Begins and The Batman to see how to do that right. If handled correctly, it could actually be the coolest thing about the movie, like it was in that Robert Pattinson version. No, the biggest problem with Spider Man 3 is over-confidence. It’s the confidence to think that they could pretty much do whatever they wanted, and disregard what the audience was actually there to see, and still be successful.

You see, this is a movie about relationships, more than it is about action or superheroes. And sure, there is plenty of action in the movie, but it is intermingled with lengthy, dull, and lifeless scenes of dialogue that are completely pointless and annoying. When Peter Parker decides he is going to propose to Mary Jane, for example, he first goes to Aunt May to ask for her blessing. And she drones on and on about how a man must put his wife first. And then she tells the story of how Uncle Ben proposed to her, and how each of them looked in their bathing suits, and one has to ask the question… WHY? Why is this movie wasting time with this kind of drivel, and what are they not including because of it. What scenes are getting cut, or story elements are not being given enough time, because they decided to waste our time with this nonsense instead?

The Aunt May scene is one of many examples. Another one has Harry Osbourne and Mary Jane keep each other company in the kitchen of his mansion by cooking over a stove while dancing to the song, “Do the Twist.” Forget that this is not the sixties, and these are teenagers in what is supposed to be current times deciding to dance to this sixties song, but the scene itself is just dumb. In fact, nearly every line of dialogue Harry utters in this movie is dumb. But let’s get back to the time question from a moment ago. You see, this movie is two hours and twenty minutes. It didn’t need to be. At an hour and forty five or two hours, it’s a much tighter, more interesting movie. But then there’s also that question of what is being cut? Considering that there are three villains here, each of them could have been given more story. Specifically the Sandman and Venom, two characters that both feel forced into this movie.

Let’s start at the beginning, before Sandman or Venom, or their alter egos, ever appear. At the start of this movie, Peter Parker is finally being celebrated as Spiderman. He’s gone through the last two movies being hated as Spiderman by lots of people. Especially J Jonah Jameson, (played by the great JK Simmons,) who has spent his time as editor in chief of the newspaper, trying to slander and take down the wall-crawler for reasons that have never been explained. So now, for the first time, Peter is being hailed as a hero. And it’s happening right at the same time that Mary Jane’s acting career is falling apart. She has been fired from the Broadway musical that she was starring in. And she doesn’t tell Peter, because he’s on too much of a rising star, celebratory train. Being around him and hearing about all of his success only makes her feel worse. All of this is interesting. It’s a solid opening to the movie that actually deals in real character moments.

 

From there, we start getting the stories of the villains. Specifically New Goblin or Goblin Junior or whatever the new Harry Osbourne version of the Green Goblin is called (he isn’t officially given a name here,) and the Sandman. Now, the Goblin story is pretty good. Harry thinks that Peter killed his dad. And so he wants vengeance. This is a story that has been arching in all three of these movies, and carried across as the through-line that connects them all. It works. When Harry goes after Peter on his skateboard like hover-board, it happens to be a great action scene. They chase each other through tight alleys and throw all kinds of things at each other, and the movie seems like it has some real promise. And then it all comes crashing down.

 

You see, Harry walks away from the fight with a concussion that turns into memory loss and amnesia. He ends up remembering Peter and Mary Jane, just not remembering that Peter killed his father. How convenient. The memory loss angle is the cheapest move this series has ever done, and is so corny in fact, that it rivals the storylines of soap operas. So now Harry spends the whole middle chunk of the movie being friends with Peter again, until his memory inevitably comes back. To make matters worse, the way Harry gets over his anger at Peter, which involves his butler telling him something about his father, is also pretty dumb. It’s something that the butler could have told him two movies ago, instead of waiting until now.

 

If you think the Harry storyline is stupid, or gets stupid, that’s nothing compared to the stories of the other two villains. Sandman, who should have been the main villain of this movie, is played by the great actor Thomas Hayden Church,  hot off the success of his breakout movie Sideways. We talked about how the movie could have worked with three villains if they had been handled right, but the truth is that considering how the other movies in this trilogy were going, (each of them featured only one villain,) this movie really should have stayed in line, followed its own pattern, and given us just one villain. if something’s not broke, don’t try to fix it. Both Spider-man and Spider-man 2 were pretty great, so why make a major change now, in the third one? The answer is greed.

 

Sandman’s story is that he has a sick daughter and he’s trying to get the money for her surgery. So to do that, he’s a common robber. How basic of a storyline can you get? But we don’t see scenes of Sandman in any way using the money to help his daughter or speak to her doctors, or do anything like that (apparently a scene where he confronted one of her doctors was cut. But I’m so glad they made time for Aunt May to talk about her and Uncle Ben in their bathing suits.) This Sandman stuff isn’t very intelligent, but it’s not terrible either. What is terrible is the way that they force a story on his character, about how he is actually the real killer of Uncle Ben. Talk about retconning something from previous movies, this makes the Uncle Ben murder scene in the first movie just feel cheap and fake. We all saw that murder scene with our own eyes. You can’t just retcon it now, to end the trilogy. And what is the point of doing this anyway? To give Peter a personal connection to the villain? Does he always need to have one of those? Apparently the people behind this movie think the answer to that is yes. Just like they think Mary Jane has to always be kidnapped by the villain (that’s right, all three movies do the exact same thing with her character.)

 

So Sandman’s story feels forced, especially when it comes to his connection to Uncle Ben. But even more forced has got to be the story of Venom. We see the black suit fall from space in the very beginning, with no explanation at all of how that happened. It latches onto Peter’s bike, rides the bike home with Peter, back to his apartment, and then sits quietly in the apartment for half the movie until finally deciding to come out. Meanwhile, we start to get the story of Eddie Brock (played by Topher Grace,) and what a small story it is. Eddie is a fellow photographer at the Daily Bugle newspaper. J Jonah Jameson offers a job to either he or Peter, whoever can get photos of Spdierman doing incriminating things, and Eddie gets them. Only Peter proves the photos were fake. Meanwhile, Eddie is apparently dating Gwen Stacey. Now this is the part of the story that gets the smallest amount of time or development. We meet Eddie for the first time when Gwen is falling out a building and being saved by Spiderman. And Eddie chooses that moment to announce to her father, police chief Captain Stacey, that he is dating the man’s daughter. Eddie talks to Gwen and she says they only went out for one cup of coffee. And that’s the extent of their relationship and how much we see of it.

 

Yet Eddie blames Peter for his losing Gwen. It makes no sense at all. Neither does the way Peter acts once he puts on the black suit, walking down the street doing finger guns to attractive women, dancing to no music by bopping up and down in the middle of the sidewalk and rolling his arms around each other. It’s meant to be comedic, but in actuality, it’s terrible and pointless. Peter becomes a jerk in this movie, toting Gwen around, brining her out to Mary Jane’s place of business to make MJ jealous. We are here for an action movie, not this nonsense. Between the MJ and Harry Twist dance scene and this jazz club awfulness, this movie really goes off the rails. By the end of the movie, when Mary Jane gets kidnapped for the third time in three films (even the third Taken movie had the good sense not to have a character get “Taken,” again,) we just don’t care anymore. The movie has worn us down. Venom appears so little in this movie that his presence is completely waisted. Apparently producer Avi Arad demanded that director Sam Raimi throw the iconic villain in, but Arad isn’t really the one to blame for how awful this movie is. Raimi is the one that butchered the character by giving him next to no screen time, not to mention the huge amount of problems with nearly everything else in this film. The action is fun, and shows special effects right at the start of the computer graphics era. These effects don’t really hold up so well, but they’re kind of fun to watch for what they represented at the time. The problem isn’t the action. It isn’t even too many villains, (although if just a little more time had been given to each villain’s storyline, it could have made a huge difference.) The problem is too many dull, pointless scenes about relationships. Too many speeches and storytelling moments that go nowhere. This movie should have been much tighter, and therefore much better. But they felt they had the freedom to do whatever they wanted and they completely wasted an opportunity to make what should have been a good film.