Spider-Man 3 (2007)
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I have this theory that “Spider-Man 3” is Sam Raimi’s revenge on Sony Pictures. What leads me to that theory? Well, Raimi was likely forced to make the second sequel on a speedy time slot, he was likely bored with making another Spider-Man film on such a hectic schedule, and was forced to include Venom, a character he swore off when he took on  the Spider-Man franchise. What’s interesting is that “Spider-Man 3” seems to prove many of my points at every turn, and it’s painful that I may be right.

The movie is practically a musical with Mary Jane now singing, and even dances to “The Twist” with Harry! But that’s not all, true believers. Characters appear and disappear for no clear reason, characters from the previous films are gone, the writers now decide to back step the goofy romance between Peter and Mary Jane as suddenly the two decide that in such a good place in their life, they want to fight some more, whine some more, and make each other jealous. Aw, hell, I’ve had it with Spider-Man for a good ten years. How can a guy with amazing powers, and three gorgeous femmes hanging off his cod be so melodramatic and bitchy?

And why does Raimi feel that all of Spider-Man’s best rogues have to be puppy dogs that have just lost their way? Why can’t they just be bad guys? And then there’s the baggage with Mary Jane who is transformed into this awfully obnoxious prima donna with a daddy complex who seems to be intent on making Peter’s life miserable because she’s getting bad reviews for her musical, as we see in an awfully ridiculous scene between the two, and Peter becomes an ambiguously flirtatious presence who seeks to get a rise out of Mary Jane for no explainable reason. The problem with “Spider-Man 3” besides feeling forced in almost every respect is that there are so many sub-plots that either are left dangling for the sequel or just feel unresolved.

We have the primary characters as well as the new characters and villains introduced not to mention anyone else Raimi will throw at us in the fourth film. There’s simply no focus set, and there’s not enough focus set down on Peter as we saw in “Spider-Man 2.” And then there are the vague and utterly dubious moments left for the audience to scratch their heads with. For example, Peter’s Spidey senses only work when the movie wants it to; take for example the opening with Green Goblin 2, Sand Man sometimes can transform himself into a humongous sand storm a la “The Mummy,” J. Jonah Jameson is more of a character out of “The Three Stooges” here than an antagonist of Spider-Man’s, and what happened to the folks that discovered Spidey’s identity? The real center of the film is Peter’s bonding with the symbiote which turns him into a cranky version of Parker.

He uses the word “damn,” talks back to his elders, parts his hair on the other side, and yes, wears a zoot suit and dances with women in a night club. Saddest though, Venom is completely and utterly mishandled. Not only is Venom used as a secondary character, but the menacing and frightening antithesis to Spider-Man and his power is turned into a pansy of a villain who is easily beaten on, and looks pretty damn shabby; everything about the character is completely dismissed in favor of a monster that looks like a sleeker alien from the “Alien” series and is given nauseating dialogue (Eddie Brock: “I like being bad.”). Raimi’s third entry into the Spider-Man canon is helped by some high points. All around the special effects are rather excellent. The sand effects for Sandman are phenomenal and often times pay great homage to the comic character.

The symbiote is also a character that’s handled with enough finesse to warrant a gasp or two, with its oozy substance  becoming an interesting presence. Topher Grace is entertaining as the cocky and egomaniacal Eddie Brock who is delusional in his ways, and discovers a partner in the alien symbiote suit that turns him into the monster. And there’s also Bryce Dallas Howard who is utterly sexy as Gwen Stacy. Howard has always been a common crush of mine, and here she is utterly convincing as a blonde. She’s a well cast dazzler, here. This third film is awful, it’s sloppy, and it’s mishandled in every aspect. For the next sequel I want the Lizard, and probably Werewolf by Night. Beyond that, “Spider-Man 3” is pretty bad; granted it’s not the worst, but it’s a cheesy, melodramatic, and utterly sloppy sequel with an embarrassing script and a cast that looks asleep half the time. Let’s hope “Spider-Man 4” is a rebound, until then, I’m stern on my theory that this movie was bad on purpose. Prove me right, Raimi.