What Went Wrong? Spider-Man 3
Reviewing a bad movie that could’ve been better
Peter Parker has been moonlighting as New York’s web-slinging superhero for close to 50 years. The Stan Lee invention has seen many incarnations including an impressive cinematic franchise. But, Spider-Man 3 is a bad movie.
One of the most lucrative Spidey stories includes Sam Raimi’s 2000’s trilogy. Yet, the third Raimi outing is a point of contention for many fans of Marvel Comics.
How could something so right, go so wrong? Join me as we take a look at another movie with promise, that fell short.
Was Venom Actually Good?
Sam Raimi’s trilogy saw Tobey Maguire don the red mask and successfully retell the origin and adventures of Spiderman. This was done in Spider-Man (2002) and Spider-Man 2 (2004). A far cry from Raimi’s cinematic background as a horror pioneer with the Evil Dead series.
Both films were a one-two punch of silver screen success. They captured a new generation whilst honouring the original tale for the established fans of the comic book creation.
Yet it was this success that created the pitfalls for the third film in the trilogy. Raimi originally had no plans of including the villain of Venom into Spider-Man 3 due to his “lack of humanity” yet producer Avi Arad insisted.
A gallery of bad guys
All of the villains in the film have human characteristics and motives that fit the narrative. Harry Osborn/New Goblin (James Franco) is the son of the Green Goblin, the villain of the first film and involved in a love triangle with MJ and Peter. Flint Marko/Sandman (Thomas Haden Church) is a farther, trying to look after his sick daughter and caught in a life of crime. Plus, it’s revealed that Marko was responsible for the death of Uncle Ben, yet another tie to the first film in the series.
Yet, Eddie Brock/Venom (Topher Grace) is just unfortunate. The extra-terrestrial symbiote of Venom crashes to earth on a meteor, and anyone who comes into contact with it just has bad luck. Yes, it affects their personality and holds some weight in the story, but overall it’s just shoehorned into an already busy film.
The number of villains goes a long way towards making Spider-Man 3 a bad movie in the eyes of many fans.
The studio influence
Raimi’s hand was forced following Arad’s case that the studio was receiving a large amount of fan mail about Venom. Sony Pictures also backed the character and the decision was made.
Whilst studio involvement is nothing new, it paints the picture of how this film was created. How it ultimately failed to meet expectations. The success of the two previous films in the franchise made this a high-pressure situation, with the studio keen to maximise every opportunity. This included fan service over the story. Raimi had proven that he could take the reins and create not one, but two successful comic book blockbusters. Ones rooted in human emotion and clear storytelling. By forcing the story of Venom into this film, we begin to see how it was doomed from the start…
Too many characters
Every good superhero film relies on its villains as the backbone of the story. With the inclusion of Venom as well as Sandman, and the New Goblin, every storyline becomes diluted.
After the slow burn and emotional investment seen in the two previous films. Instead we get a half-baked sympathetic backstory for Sandman and the infamous ‘Emo-Peter’ in leu of a credible threat in Venom.
We also have the introduction of Gwen Stacy. Here serving only as a separate love interest to Peter, and adding very little to this smorgasbord of undercooked characters. Stan Lee’s wife Joan was the inspiration for Stacy in 1965. Yet, instead of keeping with her comic origins, she has no back story with Peter, she isn’t killed and she has no real emotional connection with anyone in the film. Her character is stripped away and is replaced by nothing. She is simply the ’other woman’ to Mary Jane. This is one of the main issues with Spider-Man 3 in a nutshell.
Rather than being everything to everyone and overstuffing the text with characters, further investment should have been made into the core cast. This could have been the pay off the groundwork of the first two movies. The dominoes were all lined up ready to fall, but Play Doe and Jenga pieces were thrown instead.
How could it have been better?
Let’s start with the character issue. If the studio was forcing Venom into this film, lets compromise. We see Venom, but we introduce it and set the narrative up for Spider-Man 4 (the film that never happened).
Rather than rushing Eddy Brock and the symbiote through this film, it would slowly build as a subplot. Spider-Man 3 should remain focused on Harry becoming the New Goblin and using Sandman as the ‘muscle’. All whilst linking back to avenge the death of Uncle Ben.
Harry suffering amnesia after a battle with Spider-Man is a wasted opportunity in this film as he simply gets his memory back. Instead, a reveal that he never had amnesia and was playing into Peters compassionate side. This would have been a strong way to show his alliance with Sandman; like how he aided Dr Octopus in Spider-Man 2.
Gwen Stacy’s’ one-dimensional character only adds a second love triangle into this film. Why not use the character to either be the only old friend that sticks by Peter when he loses it all? The only friend he reconnects with after Harry dives a wedge between Peter and MJ? Why not have her murdered by the Goblin/Sandman coalition? Or why not have the only beacon of hope turn on Spider-Man for personal gain?
From the opening shot of Parker watching himself on the outdoor screens, Spider-Man 3 establishes Peters ego at the centre of the film. So have the hero lose everything throughout the film. Then just as he’s pulling his life back together and slaying the demons that have arisen over this trilogy… Venom is born. All nicely setting up film number four.
Was it all bad?
Spider-Man 3 did have a lot going for it in fairness to avoid being a bad movie. The CGI is frequent throughout the film and can still hold up by today’s standards.
Harry and Peters chase through the alley is captivating. Sandman vs Spider-Man in the subway is gruesome. Then Sandman’s first transformation is a brilliant hybrid of cinematic storytelling and technological achievement.
The reliance on CGI can be criticized as part of the downfall of this film, but it adds to its campy nature. The effects and goofy performances all match with the tone of the movie, these are insane stories being told in insane ways. The films third act sees Harry and Peter team back up as Spider-Man and the New Goblin. Whilst a little hoky given Harry’s lineage and his inherited evilness brewing since the first film, it set the audience up for more. It saw a supergroup of sorts, working together against the villain, paving the way for the next step in the MCU with the Avengers.
The last of it’s type?
Whilst the next wave of superhero films took a serious turn favouring grit and drama, Spider-Man 3 was comfortable in its own skin. It knew it was a comedy at the core and didn’t shy away from it. Raimi was able to weave action, drama, heartfelt emotion and comedy into his trilogy without ever taking itself too seriously.
It may be a film, bursting at the seams with underdeveloped characters. But, it also gave us the infamous ‘dancing peter’ and one-liners that salute the comic book dialogue of yesteryear. If Peter was genuinely ‘cool’ and suave when playing the host to Venom, the tone would have been missed. He became this goofy, fake lothario, played for laughs as it embellishes the worst parts of his character. Raimi may have been forced to include this element, but he played his hand well.
Spider-Man 3 is far from a failure and perhaps it’s harsh to call it a bad movie. Making $895 million worldwide Sony went all out for this film. The PR campaign included a spider exhibit at the American Museum of Natural History and Green Goblin mask-making workshop at the Children’s Museum of Manhattan.
In the end, going ‘all-out’ was the film’s problem. It failed to live up to its two cinematic siblings. The New Yorker’s Anthony Lane described the film as a “shambles” which “makes the rules up as it goes along.”
Raimi had a lot on his plate for his third outing the Spider-Verse and he was up against a lot of creative voices wanting input. Ultimately, these voices resulted in a convoluted plot and stunted charters with a lack of substance.
Closing the series
In spite of this, Raimi somehow managed to tie up his trilogy with some poignancy. Eddy Brock, whilst rushed, embodies every bad part of Peter making him a perfect foe. Whilst Harry is impaled by his Glider, mirroring his father’s death in the first film. However, the New Goblin’s death was from giving into his human side, the Green Goblin’s death was from giving in to his Goblin side. Raimi somehow found a way to string some balance amongst the chaos.
Raimi’s final Spider-Man film didn’t fire on all cylinders. He’s has admitted himself he “didn’t really believe in all of the characters”. But within this bulging campy mess, he somehow created 139 minutes of fun and a film that laughs with you, not at you… at itself.
Thanks for reading our review of Spider-Man 3 (2007) a bad movie. Do you agree or disagree with our points or have anything to add? If so, leave us a comment below.
More from our movies that could’ve been better HERE
Read IMDB information on Spider-Man 3 HERE.
9 Bands You Forgot Played Themselves In Movies
There are more bands than you think that played themselves on the big screen. Here are nine bands you might’ve forgotten appeared in movies.
1. Alice Cooper – Wayne’s World (1992)
Being a teenager in the nineties was great for many reasons. Two of those being the release of the Wayne’s World movies. The genius that is Mike Myers created one of the best music-based films of all time. Plus, he convinced one of the greatest rock musicians of all time to be in it. If you’re not a geek like me, you may have forgotten that Alice Cooper was featured in the film. It had the iconic scene of Wayne and Garth meeting, Alice, backstage on bent knees. We’re not worthy, indeed. Alice himself pulls off the diva Rockstar brilliantly, even though he’s a genuine, down-to-earth guy who plays a lot of golf.
2. Primus – Bill & Ted’s Bogus Journey (1991)
Let’s try and erase the recent Bill & Ted movie from our memory and head back to 1991 for their bogus journey. They come from the future to kill the non-robot versions of themselves and ruin their performance at a Battle of the Bands competition. What’s cool is the band who are playing before them. Californian alt-metal kings Primus. Although the clip is only short, they play themselves and sound as you would expect. Epic.
3. Fall Out Boy – Sex Drive (2008)
You’d be forgiven for forgetting about this one. The teen sex comedy from 2008 is forgettable and won’t really appeal to anyone apart from its teen target audience. If you can sit through all the cringe-inducing moments, you will spot pop-rockers Fall Out Boy. They are performing in a barn in front of some drunk Amish teenagers. There’s a reason for that, but I won’t bore you with it here. What is good, is the soundtrack of the film. As well as Fall Out Boy, it features Airbourne, AC/DC and weirdly, Kenny Loggins.
4. Twisted Sister – Pee Wee’s Big Adventure (1985)
Paul Reuben’s character Pee Wee Herman made his big-screen outing in 1985. The children’s show star had a scene where he is being chased through a studio parking lot. Unbeknown to him, glam rockers Twisted Sister are recording a music video on a car. Lead singer Dee Snider is always up for a laugh, so it’s no surprise they’re featured. The clip is brilliant. Pee Wee’s prop-laden bike is just about to crash into Twisted Sister and the look on Dee’s face is genius. Go check out the clip.
5. David Bowie – Zoolander (2001)
Who can forget the brilliant Zoolander? Starring Ben Stiller as the dippy model, it’s one of the funniest comedies ever made. One of the best scenes of the film is the walk-off. This involved Ben Stiller and Owen Wilson’s characters doing a catwalk-off. Of sorts. Can you remember who refereed it? The legend himself, David Bowie. It’s not the first time Bowie was in a movie – remember Labyrinth? But this time, he plays himself. And does it with all the cool swagger you would expect.
6. The Mighty Mighty Bosstones – Clueless (1995)
I can’t say that I was a massive fan of this teen comedy at the time. The plot revolves around Alicia Silverstone’s character giving her friend a makeover. The premise doesn’t sound like it lends itself to a cool band cameo. You’d be wrong, though. There’s a scene where the lead characters go watch a gig. The band that are playing are The Mighty Mighty Bosstones. The Boston ska-punk legends are only on stage for a moment, but it’s a slick clip. It certainly brings the film up a level on the cool stakes.
7. Daft Punk – Tron: Legacy (2010)
This sequel to the original sci-fi classic is a cracking movie. The visuals and effects are stunning, as is the atmosphere of the film. The music to the film is also rather special. A futuristic and dystopian movie could only have one act doing the score, and that’s Daft Punk. It works a treat. The music is intertwined into the movie and becomes a part of it. The delicious electronica is the perfect complement to the visuals. The French electronic masters also have a cameo at the end of the movie. They’re spinning the decks in a blink-and-you-miss-it scene.
8. Aerosmith – Wayne’s World (1993)
We’ve already had an appearance from the first film further up our list, and the second doesn’t disappoint either. The plot revolves around Wayne and Garth putting on their own music festival. Book them and they will come, is the advice given. And they certainly did. The headline band for the festival were none other than Aerosmith themselves. They do a sterling effort on stage as performers. And Steven Tyler also shows that he can handle his own on the acting front too.
9. Reel Big Fish – BASEketball (1998)
Trey Parker and Matt Stone star in this bizarre and hilarious sports comedy. Written by the king of spoof David Zucker, it’s become a cult classic. The soundtrack heavily features ska-punkers Reel Big Fish. They do a brilliant rendition of A-HA’s Take on Me, which they also perform in the movie. The band are the entertainment at the stadium where Parker and Stone are competing. You can tell by the footage that the band are clearly enjoying themselves. They add a touch more fun to an already hugely funny film.
That’s our list of nine bands who played themselves in movies. Did we miss any of your favourites? Let us know in the comments below.
Check out our list of actors in bands HERE.
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