Spider-man 3 is the third installment in the Spider-man Trilogy. It is written and directed by Sam Raimi and has Toby Maguire, Kirsten Dunst and James Franco reprising their roles. Thomas Haden Church and Topher Grace also star in this installment as the Sandman and Venom respectively. It was released with a plethora of media hype in multiple countries on May 1, 2007, and in the United States in both conventional and IMAX theaters on May 4, 2007.
The movie set the record for the all-time weekend debut by grossing $151.1 million. The film also set a new worldwide record for opening weekend, with a final total of $382 million. With all the hype surrounding the film, and with the way it shattered the box office records, I thought this would be a good movie.
Add in the success of the first two films and I was very excited to see it. This was a movie I wanted to enjoy, a movie I wanted to like. Sadly, I was disappointed on both counts. I am sorry to say that this film lacked the magic of the first two. It did not live up to the hype surrounding it or the standards set by the first two Spider-man movies.
Simply put, there was too much in it for just one film. Rami had considered breaking it up into two films, and he should have. By trying to accomplish so much in one film, he wound up accomplishing nothing. Three villains, the feud between Peter and Harry, Peter’s relationship with Mary Jane, Mary Jane’s career, Harry’s struggle with himself and Peter’s struggle with himself over his uncle’s killer were all competing with each other throughout the course of the film.
There was so much complexity, that there was no room for depth. For example, one of the biggest parts of the film was supposed to be Peter struggling to come to grips with his uncle’s death after he learned from Police Captain Stacy who had really killed his uncle (it turned out to be Flint Marko (Church) who was also the Sandman…something not in the comics but introduced into the movie).
All the degree of intricacy of the movie took away from the story. Aside from one scene tying Sandman to Peter’s uncle, and the initial scene where he falls into the nuclear particle reactor (where his body merges with the sand), we saw little of him in the film until the end, where he explains to Peter he was desperate to find money to heal his sick daughter (vice his ailing mother in the comics) and did not mean to kill his uncle. Peter forgives him as he seems to blow away to nothingness.
The emotion expressed in that end scene was the only visible sign of anything happening inside Peter. The biggest plot point was supposed to be the internal struggle of Peter Parker. However, there was no real struggle visible. Peter simply went from being timid but cheerful to dark and angry. The change was sudden, with no transition, no struggle. At the end, he simply changed back. No visible realization, he was just suddenly back to being, “a good boy.” So much more could have been done with this part alone, that is, Sandman and Peter’s struggle, but instead it was shallow and weak. Only the bare minimum went into this part of the story and much was lost as a result.
Likewise, the venom plot-line suffered as well. Venom, a symbiote from space and a popular villain among fans was also changed slightly. Like the comics, it first merges with Spider-man and later, Eddie Brock, after Spider-man is able to tear the symbiote off him. However Raimi wanted Brock to be the exact mirror to Peter Parker, instead of a journalist, he is a photographer, competing for Peter’s job at the Bugle (instead of working a rival paper like in the comics). Also, Brock is dating the Police Captains daughter, instead of having already been married.
Eddie goes to the church to pray for Peter’s death just as Peter is struggling to remove the symbiote. The symbiote takes control of Eddie and the two form venom. Eddie is angry with Peter for exposing his fraud. Eager to get the staff job at the Bugle, Eddie creates a picture of Spider-man robbing a bank. When Peter proves the photo was plagiarized and doctored, Eddie is fired.
Eddie blames Peter for his own shortcomings and vows to hill him. To this end, he searches out Flint Marko, aka the Sandman and the two join forces to kill Spider-man The Sandman’s reasons for wanting to kill Spiderman are not made clear. In fact, it was Spider-man who wanted to kill the Sandman. There was no vengeance on the part of the Sandman. In fact the Sandman apparently wants to make nice with Peter. If there had been more time, or less plotlines, Raimi could have explored that relationship better, however one was left to wonder why Sandman decided to join forces with Venom.
Both the Venom and Sandman plot-lines were stunted and underdeveloped. Their tie in was just as weak. However, as complicated as those two lines made the film, Raimi decided to throw in more yet.
At the beginning of the movie, Harry Osborn is consumed with hatred for Peter. He blames Spider-man Peter Parker for his father’s death. The initial fight scene is spectacular, if not short, and results in Harry being near dead. Peter takes him to the hospital where he recovers, but without his short-term memory. Harry remembers Peter and Mary Jane, but now how he got to the hospital and not how his father died.
We see nothing of Harry’s struggle throughout the film and actually see very little of Harry until he suddenly reclaims his memory and seeks again to destroy Peter Parker. He forces Mary Jane to break up with Peter and then rubs it in with Peter that he is the “other guy.” This leads to another fight between Peter and Harry where Harry is disfigured. That is about all we see of Harry until the end.
This is probably the only high point of the film and the only thing Raimi did right: tying in Harry to the rest of the story. After Venom joins forces with Sandman, they capture Mary Jane and use her as bait to lure and kill Spider man. Peter goes to Harry and asks for his help…the after he had taunted, fought and disfigured him. Harry rightly refuses to aid Peter and you can see the self-restraint he must use.
After Peter leaves, his butler comes in to talk with him. With his butler’s help, Harry is able to overcome his hatred of Peter. His butler explains that he had cleaned his father’s wound and that it was in fact by his own hand, and not Spider-man’s, that he died. Harry then dons the gobbler costume that he streamlined for the sole purpose of killing Spider-man and goes to his aid, just in a nick of time (though “a few minutes early would have been helpful as well.”)
Peter and Harry fight together and manage to overcome both villains. However, Harry is killed saving Peter’s live as Venom tries to stab him with Harry’s sky board. Venom intends to run Peter through with the spikes on the edge, but Harry jumps in front and is stabbed through the heart.
This noble scene, the sacrificial act of laying your life down for your friend is the only high point of the movie and manages to carry it though. However like the other plot-lines, there could have been so much more if the director had focused in a little instead of trying to include a little bit of everything.
Spider-man 3 had the potential to be a great film. It came with the possibility of tying everything together while expanding the characters at the same time. Instead, too many ingredients were thrown into the mix and the batter was lumpy and uneven.
Had Raimi kept things a little simpler it could have been an outstanding movie. I had high hopes for this film, I really did, but its complexity and lack of depth dashed those hopes. Instead, I left disappointed and let down. Here’s hoping Raimi learns his lesson and comes out with another, simpler, more enjoyable Spider-man movie.