The reviews were mixed… but overall, I liked it. Maybe even more than the first two, mainly because I could buy into the villains more.
The main complaint from critics about Spider-Man 3 is that there is too much stuff jammed into one film. According to Entertainment Weekly, it was considered at one point to split the story into two films, but they couldn’t find a good ending for the first part. I suspected this might be a problem going in, just from the fact that there were three villains - Sandman, Venom, and the inventively named New Goblin. But I was surprised to find that, to me, it all held together pretty well. It did feel a bit crowded, but on the other hand some scenes took their time - especially the Sandman’s awakening, where we watch him slowly figure out how to pull himself together from a pile of sand.
From what I had read before seeing the movie, the Sandman was my main concern because he didn’t seem entirely necessary to the main story. Mostly he would serve as someone for Spider-Man to beat up on while under the influence of the alien black thing. This played out pretty much like I expected, but both the character and the effects turned out to be worth it. He’s the most sympathetic villain yet, and the sand effects were great.
For me, the villains were actually the weak point in the first two movies. It’s not clear what the Green Goblin’s goals were. First he wanted to get revenge on the board of directors for outing him, but he did that almost unceremoniously with a single pumpkin bomb. Then he wanted Spider-Man to join him… in what? Ruling the city? How? There wasn’t really any indication that he had any plan outside of antagonizing Spider-Man.
Then there’s Doctor Octopus.
Reporter: Gee, doctor, what if the artificial intelligence in the arms overwhelms your mind?
Otto: Not to worry, I’ve got this glowing blue single point of failure here to protect me.
Audience: Okay, that blue thing’s gonna be toast within about five minutes.
And while it was nice for Peter to have another soon-to-be-tragic mentor to look up to, it was a significant departure from the comic book version of the character.
Not to mention the hospital scene with the doctors getting terrorized by the arms, which was about five times longer than it needed to be. Alright already, it’s the Evil Dead director. I get it. Enough with the screaming.
I used to think you couldn’t have a proper version of Venom in the movies because you can’t tell the original story, which involves Spider-Man finding the new black costume in the middle of a giant battle of all the superheroes against all the supervillains. Instead of all that, this movie delivers the black goo in a little meteorite. I actually thought they would do what they did in the cartoon in the 90s - it stowed away on a space shuttle. After all, we already were introduced to Jameson’s astronaut son in the previous film. But I guess there wasn’t room for a space shuttle to land in this movie, and it wasn’t really necessary. We still got an alien symbiote. Peter wore it for a while, and then it became Venom. Close enough.
So what’s next? The Vulture keeps almost happening. We know the Lizard is coming. They’ve been teasing us with that one since they first dropped Dr. Connors’ name in the first film. Then there’s the Scorpion, Electro, and the Kingpin. Except they already had him in Daredevil. But I’d rather pretend that didn’t happen.