Movie Marathon Review: Spider-Man 3

Synopsis: Peter Parker (Tobey Maguire) finally has it all–he has the girl of his dreams, a steady(ish) job, is doing well in his college classes, and the people of New York City are all in love with Spider-Man. What more could a guy ask for? When new revelations come out about the night his uncle was murdered and a symbiote alien life-form binds with Parker, bringing out the worst in him, Parker has to dig deep to find if he truly has it in him to be the hero he needs for his friends, his family, and most importantly, for himself.

It’s the choices that make us who we are.

Peter Parker

Breakdown: When this movie was about to release in 2007, expectations were sky-high. The previous film in the franchise, Spider-Man 2, was beloved by fans and critics alike. This next film in Sam Raimi’s Spider-Man saga was poised to deliver another fantastic tale, this time featuring not one, not two, but three villains in James Franco’s New Goblin, Thomas Haden Church’s Sandman, and Topher Grace’s Venom.

Then the movie came out.

The backlash was swift and all-encompassing. Critics did not like the film. Audiences did not like the film. It was over-stuffed and under-cooked. Popular characters from the comics were not given the justice they deserved, particularly fan-favorite Venom. It was so bad that, instead of continuing with the already announced Spider-Man 4, Raimi and team called it quits and the series was rebooted quickly thereafter.

However, almost 15 years have passed since this movie’s release, and nostalgia has the power to soften the edges a bit, and gives us the ability to see beyond the things that were non-starters all those years ago. And you know what? There is a really good movie somewhere in Spider-Man 3.

Much has been made in the years since the movie’s release about the pressures Raimi was under to deliver another blockbuster hit for the studio. About how he wanted to focus this film only on Sandman, but the studio forced him to include Venom. And the resulting film shows this conflict–Venom is basically ignored the entire film and then completely misses the mark when he makes his debut. Topher Grace is a fine actor–not one to write home about, but not the world’s worst actor, either–but he was an odd choice that didn’t pay off in the end. Not to mention the scenes with emo-Parker, which, the less we talk about those scenes, the better. Man, did I almost die of second-hand embarrassment during that part of the film.

Everything else, however, really works in this movie. The culmination of Harry’s (James Franco) character arc was superbly realized, and Mary Jane (Kirsten Dunst) was finally given more to do this time around. It was a nice change of pace to see a Peter Parker who was in control of his life and actually having fun being a superhero. And the graphics, save for some spotty CGI towards the end, were again at the top of their game.

Yes, there were issues with the plot. How many villains have to personally attack Mary Jane Watson before people start to recognize her and put two and two together? Really, Venom’s weakness is sound? But those things aside, there is a lot to really love in this movie. Particularly everything about Sandman. Here is a villain who, though he is once again a science experiment gone wrong, has a compelling motivation for what he is trying to do. He just wants to save his daughter. Church does a fantastic job portraying this character, and the graphics are some of the best I have ever seen during the early Spider-Man/Sandman fights. Additionally, as far as retroactive continuity fixes go, the revelation that it was Flint Marko who killed Uncle Ben surprisingly worked, and added a layer of depth and drama to the tension between Spider-Man and Sandman.

Breakdown: There was still so much left in this world that Raimi, Maguire, Dunst and team created, and it is a true shame that it wasn’t allowed to continue. One thing the Raimi Spider-Man films did so well was the subtle world-building that took place in each film, from Dr. Curt Conners appearing in each movie, alluding to his eventual turn as The Lizard, to a series of cameos rumored to be revealed as Mysterio, there was so much more to explore in later films. I am so glad that this team is supposedly being given one more chance to do these characters justice in the upcoming Spider-Man: No Way Home. Who knows–maybe that film will be so successful that we might get to see the long rumored Spider-Man 4 after all? If not though, this was an uneven but never-the-less enjoyable send off for one of the greatest superheroes on film of all time. Not a perfect movie by any stretch of the imagination, it is no where near as bad as people say it once was. If you missed out the first time around, or even if you saw it and hated it, give it another chance. You’ll be pleasantly surprised.

**This movie review is part of a series of reviews, where we are watching one Spider-Man movie a week leading up to the release of Spider-Man: No Way Home. You can read more about this review series here.

To see the other reviews, click the links below (we’ll update this list each week as we release new reviews):

Mark Pereira is a senior writer for Boss Rush Network. He loves all video games, but his top three favorites are Skyward SwordSuper Mario 3D World and Batman: Arkham Asylum. You can find him on Twitter where he’s usually talking about Nintendo, video games, movies, and TV shows.

Image source: Wallpaper Cave