For the second part of my series on films I’m revisiting, I bring the focus to one that has been the scorn of many comic fans since it’s release. Sam Raimi’s Spider-Man 3.
Now for some perspective. This film came out in 2007. I had massive expectations for it, being a fan of the first film and liking the second even though I was not as big a fan for it as the first. (More on Spider-Man 2 later in the series.) I was excited about the inclusion of the black costume and Venom. I did have concerns about fitting in Sandman and the continuing story of Harry Osborne’s revenge on Peter Parker, but I figured Raimi delivered in the first two installments, I had faith.
When I saw this in theaters I was amazed. I had a great time and loved the action sequences and the humor. I know that most of the opinions on the movie tend to point at the Emo Spidey, but I found it hilarious. I left the theater wondering “what was the big deal about this?” How did this fun comic book ride gather all this much hatred. The second time I saw it was when I bought it on DVD. And the same opinion I had when I saw it in theaters, I had at that time as well.
I had recently seen The Amazing Spider-Man 2, and while it had had its flaws, I had fun with it. So I went on a little Spider-Man tear and bought the original 3 on Blu-Ray, as well as the complete series of The Spectacular Spider-Man. I rewatched 1 & 2 and was geared up for my viewing of number 3 in stunning HD.
I was stunned. And not by the picture quality.
What was this I was watching? No. Sam Raimi couldn’t have made this. The man who helped formulate one of the greatest superhero films ever in Spider-Man 2, how did this come about?
For starters, let’s begin with the score. Danny Elfman who had scored he first two films is replaced by Christopher Young, who is best known for his scores for horror films. Now throughout the movie you can hear the themes of Elfman’s work, but it just did not have the same feel as the previous films. It almost seems as if the music for this already places it in another universe. This is probably not a major gripe but it did bother me.
Next. The acting. Now I never had any issue with Tobey Maguire as Peter Parker, and I was certainly fine with his portrayal in the previous films. Yet this time around, it was just off. Perhaps it was due to the writing. Also equally bad was Kirsten Dunst, who I never felt was either right for the role of Mary Jane Watson, but it also shows how badly she was written in the series as a whole. MJ is not a damsel in distress as she was portrayed here. And last is James Franco as Harry Osborn/New Goblin. He just seemed to be hamming it up in every scene. Regardless if he was battling Peter in the city or in his mansion, which I realized that fight sequence had the absolute worst music possible. If it wasn’t for Thomas Haden Church as the Sandman, there may have been no quality acting in this film.
Last, the writing. What exactly was this movie about? It follows up on a couple story lines from 1 & 2, Peter and MJ’s romance and Harry’s revenge story, but there really was no plot whatsoever. Say what you want about Batman and Robin, at least there were motivations for characters on both sides (Mr. Freeze and Batman both looking for a cure to saved loved ones.) Cringeworthy dialogue, and a badly written story for Venom, one of Spidey’s most popular villains make this really tough to watch. Venom is literally Spider-Man’s equal. At least in terms of physical abilities. In other forms of media, when Eddie Brock (played quite like a weasel by Topher Grace) becomes Venom, he uses his power to taunt Parker and make his life hell. This does not happen. At all. What a wasted opportunity.
When I rewatched this, I really saw that this was on Batman and Robin level silliness. The difference is that Spider-Man 3 was supposed to be something more. Warner Bros on the other hand, knew they wanted a toy commercial with Batman and Robin. Afterwards I felt a sense of betrayal within myself. This was 2007. I was about to graduate from college with a degree on communication. I had studied scriptwriting and film making. How could I have thought this was actually good? I only hope the film community can forgive me. I have seen the light. If not for the revenge story being left open, as far as I’m concerned now, Spider-Man’s original cinematic story ended in 2004 with Spider-Man 2.