Review: Spider-Man 3 (IMAX)

Published 8 years ago by , Updated February 9th, 2012 at 9:23 pm,

By Vic Holtreman

Short version: Although Spiderman 3 is the weakest of the trilogy, it’s still good enough to be a member of the club.

spiderman 3 review Review: Spider Man 3 (IMAX)Man… where to start on a review of a movie like this? Spider-Man 3 has been one of the most wildly anticipated movies coming out this year, so could it possibly live up to expectations? (By the way, this review is spoiler-free.)

My answer would have to be: Almost.

While the story of Spiderman 3 fits very nicely into an overall three-movie arc, there are problems with it that keep it from being as satisfying as it might have been. In the first film we meet Peter Parker as the geeky, picked-on teenager and watch him acquire his newfound powers, experiencing with him the initial giddiness and then the weight of responsibility that comes with those powers. In the second film we meet a character who has come to terms with who he is, but struggles with the amount of responsibility, difficulty and loneliness that comes with his new life.

In this third film, things have finally come around for both Peter Parker and his alter ego Spider-Man: He’s got the girl, he has fame, is beloved by the city he’s protecting, and is even doing extremely well in college. Of course, we know this can’t last. The flip side of all this is that Peter is starting to get a bit full of himself and is getting a dose of “Hollywood Ego Disease”, where he is beginning to get caught up in all the fame and adoration.

Mary Jane, on the other hand is having a hard time: She gets fired from her latest play and is struggling within, feeling once again like she did when she lived with her father due to the bad reviews of her performance and her being fired. Peter tries to console her, but although he can relate to what she’s going through, he’s so on top of the world right now that his cheery, “get back on the horse” advice rings hollow for her. The combination of her life heading downward and his heading up puts a strain on their relationship.

Then we have Flint Marko, a convict who has escaped and is on the run, breaking into his ex-wife’s apartment in order to see his sick daughter. The only thing that matters to him is curing her of whatever disease she has by finding the money to pay for it. By his own words he’s a good guy who’s just had some bad luck. Flint stumbles into a disintegration chamber just in time for an experiment to begin and is turned into the classic Spidey villain: The Sandman, who can morph into different shapes built from sand, and can also look like his old self. Peter discovers somehting about Flint Marko that puts him on a mission to track Marko down.

There’s also Eddie Brock, a new and aggressive photographer who shows up to try and usurp Peter as the premiere photographer of Spider-Man, and he happens to be dating yet another classic Spiderman comic book character: Gwen Stacey. Oh, and did I mention that Harry Osborn is in there, too?

If this sounds like a lot going on (and I haven’t even mentioned Venom yet!), well, it is. It’s one of the things that hurt this movie… there are just too many characters/stories to cover in one movie. You get the sense that they were all jammed in there because at the time they thought this would be the final film and that they wanted to please the fans by sticking in all these reference characters from the comic book. It’s a noble thought, but there’s just too much going on and it ends up marginalizing the very characters they wanted to highlight.

Let me say that I certainly didn’t hate Spider-Man 3 or even think it was awful, but there were some things that kept it from being great. The first problem is what I mentioned above: there are just way too many main characters in the film. The reason for Eddie Brock’s presence is of course, Venom (and I’ll get to that aspect shortly), but Gwen Stacey and her dad could have been left out of this film very easily. I don’t know if Gwen was in the script from day one, but I know that Sam Raimi added Venom to the story at the request of producer Avi Arad because the character is such a comic book fan favorite. I believe the original story was meant to have only Harry Osborn as the new Green Goblin and Sandman as villains.

The problem with adding Venom to the story is that if he’s going to be in there, he needs to really be in there, and that’s one of the complaints from fans of the character: the full-blown Venom character appears in the film very briefly towards the end. Sam Raimi has stated he was never a fan of the character, and it’s kind of obvious from the way Venom was used in the film. It’s ironic, because the dark/evil mood enhancing aspect of the character actually really fits the story and helped move it forward. The problem is that they probably should have done an Empire Strikes Back sort of ending where the big confrontation would be in Spider-Man 4. Instead, this felt like a typical Sci-Fi TV show episode where a huge problem has been created during the first 55 minutes of the show, you think “Wow, this must be a two-parter”, and it ends up being resolved in the final five minutes of the episode.

Other things that bothered me during the film included the transformation scene where Marko becomes Sandman: The scientists were supposedly doing a “dematerialization experiment” and Marko got caught in it. There was nothing but sand in the pit, were they trying to dematerialize sand? If so, it didn’t seem to work, because the sand was still sand. Point being what would have been the result of the experiment of Marko hadn’t been there? Very plot-devicey in my opinion. Another Sandman-related thing that really bothered me a lot was how he moved through the city: giant flying sand cloud. I didn’t realize that sand could, um… fly.

Then there’s Venom. I stopped reading Spider-Man comics around the time Spidey first got the suit so I’m not attached to the character at all. What bugged me however was that he happened to land from outer space just a few feet away from Peter Parker. Talk about your huge honkin’ coincidences! Again, I think this was due to the juggling of so many plot points: if they had limited things to fewer characters they would have had time to expand on this more. Venom should have found it’s way to Peter after perhaps inhabiting a number of non-super-powered human hosts, or heck, maybe even a dog or something. Having it land right next to Peter was a bit much.

Ah, now to the biggie: Mary Jane singing. Man oh man, what was Raimi thinking? I actually cringed at the opening of this movie with her song number. I suppose the point of it was that she was not a good singer and that’s why she was fired, but man, couldn’t they have come up with something different? And then there’s the scene where she’s dancing with Harry Osborne in his kitchen… oy. I’d love a director’s cut of this film where any scenes in which M.J. is singing or dancing is removed. That would add at least half a star to my rating for this movie.

Ok, enough about that… of course this movie will still make a gazillion dollars (they’re already talking about Spider-Man 4) and the reason why is that if you subtract out the stuff above it was still a fun, action-packed movie. Watching Peter Parker go from surprised and happy at how well his life is going to dark bad-boy mode was extremely fun to watch (until he got too “bad”). Seeing a strutting, disco-dancing Peter Parker was almost worth the price of admission. There were lots of fun bits in the movie, including a scene with Miss Brant and J. Jonah Jameson that left me in stitches and Bruce Campbell’s cameo as a French maitre’d was priceless. Then there were the action/fight sequences which were plentiful, long and amazing to watch, especially on a giant IMAX screen. Folks, for big action movies like this, I highly recommend you go out of your way to catch them in IMAX. The size of the picture and the clarity make you feel like you’re in the movie, even if you’re sitting in the back row.

Although I’d seen the majority of the Goblin/Parker fight online ahead of time, it did not compare to the way it looked on a giant IMAX screen. It was like watching it for the first time all over again. The effects work on Sandman were particularly good, especially in closeups where you could actually make out the individual grains of sand forming expressions on his face. When it came to Venom at the end of the movie however, I have to agree with a lot of the fans’ comments online: I thought it was kind of weak and especially in the face, way too CGI-ish. It didn’t look organic to me at all, instead looking very video-gamish.

In the final analysis, sure, there were things that annoyed me and even made me cringe, but overall I have to cut Spider-Man 3 some slack and say it was pretty good overall. Not great, but good and well worth seeing.

Our Rating:

3.5 out of 5
(Very Good)

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  1. LOL, I really didn’t mind the Peter Parker dancing… I actually liked it and thought it was pretty funny. Kind a nerd’s idea of what a cool bad boy would do. :-)


  2. Iagree 100% that gwen stacy should’ve been cut out, and a foreshadowing/ending having venom (the guy) come in Spiderman 4 would’ve been great (Carnage on 5 would rock as well). If they really wanted Venom in 3, then they should’ve kept it to the suit and ended the movie with the bell tower scene.

    Parker dancing was a riot and one of the actual few scenes that worked for me, the rest was just plain horrible. I feel like I was ripped off >_:E

  3. The action scenes just couldn’t save this movie for me. Between Mary Jane singing, the whole Peter Parker dance scene and the fact that in order to make Peter Parker look bad they took his hair and made him look like the brother from Wedding Crashers was just too much for me. Just like Rocky Balboa, they need to make Spiderman 4 just as a way to apologize to the fans of these movies.

  4. Oh, I didn’t think it was horrible. Beyond my issue with the reason for the creation of Sandman, the actual “birth” of the character was extremely well done. Raimi managed to make the scene really touching and emotional even without the face of an actual actor due bring that across.

    What was good in the film was really good, and not enough to label the entire thing awful in my opinion.

    Too many characters crying, though, that’s for sure. :-)


  5. your spoiler-free review is full of spoilers, dude

  6. Well I’ve got to talk about the movie somewhat to write a review. I try to paint a picture with general items and not give away anything critical to the plot.

    What specifically are you referring to?


  7. Agreed overall, though I gave it 6/10 personally. Among several complaints already listed, I’d like to add the inexplicable changes in character and apparent motivations that turn out to be dead ends.

    The script makes it clear that Brock is dating Gwen Stacey, but makes nothing of it later on in the movie, when it could be used for additional motivation for Venom (which is desperately needed as we find out later. Relying on the petty humiliation as motivation is somewhat weak. Love, and betrayal are much more potent motivators.)

    Also, the motivations for the Sandman are mixed and diluted. Why, for instance, when he states he doesn’t want to hurt Spider-Man in their first conflict, does he strike up a bargain with Venom so quickly to kill him? He must know by then that Spider-Man isn’t much of a threat to him, so why go out of your way to kill him when he already doesn’t want to? It’s too easy, and out of character the way it’s been portrayed up to that point.

    Then, inexplicably, Marko decides to ask forgiveness for no apparent reason immediately following his repeated poundings on the wall-crawler that nearly kill him. What event did I miss that caused such a dramatic change in tone?

    It’s like there were key scenes cut that would have pulled some of it together, and maybe were for time constraints. The obvious solution would have been to concentrate on a single villain as the previous two films did. Both Topher Grace and Thomas Hayden Church do really good work with limited material. I am a bit disheartened that neither of these got the chance to show what they could do if each was the villain-of-focus of their own film. It’s a sadly missed opportunity, and the yet elusive “best overall superhero trilogy” remains yet unseen.

    The dialogue, while on track and on par with the previous entries up to the third act, falls apart in the end, degrading into “buddy-hero” territory, with characters invoking lines in the vein of “I’ve got your back”. The dialogue used to be more mature in this series, and the sudden drop in quality startled me and took me out of the moment.

    All that said, it was still a good movie as you said, though I think we all expected more – a lot more. All the funny bits with Campbell, Jameson, and disco Peter, as well as the performances in general were good enough to elevate the move above mediocre and middling, but it’s flaws are significant, and can’t be overlooked. Spider-Man 2 will remain the penultimate Superhero movie of the modern era, full of promise and anticipation in the brief period between it and it’s disappointing series finale.

  8. Jersey, I’m with ya, bro. I had to pick and choose what to include in my review or it would take longer to read than to watch the movie. :-)


  9. I am amazed that the studios and Sam Raimi let this movie be released. Watching it was kind of hard. Way too much going on. I kind of liked the way the Sandman was done and I think if he had been fleshed out more, the storyline might have been really touching. The Venom storyline was wasted, you could tell Sam was not a fan of the character. I did like how they handled Harry. They could have shown Spidy in action with the balck suit more too, he wasn’t instantly bad with the suit in the comics. It just seemed bloated. The only superhero movie to ever get the multiple villian scheme to work was Batman Begins. How do they let this stuff get released? Raimi is a quality film maker, I am surprised by this. If they do decide to release another Spiderman movie, it is time for a new creative team to have at it. And hands down, the best scene in the movie was the restaurant with Bruce Campbell.

  10. Even Batman Begins only had TWO villains, where here at least initially we had three. I’ve really never understood the need to have multiple villains in superhero movies… the ones that work best have only ONE bad guy.


  11. I can’t believe I’m sticking up for stinking Spider-Man. This is easily the best comic book to live action movie yet. It was even better than Ghost Rider. I don’t know if it was meant to be a comedy, but I was rolling in the isle the whole movie. I was a little frustrated by too many villians, but more by the fact that venom appears and is deleted so quickly. In fact, I figured he has to be brought back in a later movie somehow. Peter’s teacher still has a sample…so… The only real disappointment was that Peter took off the black suit. I thought he was doing great as Angry Spidey. I wouldn’t have stood crying when he got dumped. I would have went strait for the blonde faster than he did. This movie was great! One of the best I’ve seen in a long time. It was so refreshing to see Peter wake up, smell the real world, and react appropriately. Getting pissed at people who are screwing me over is an emotion I can relate to. I get tired of the only emotion is some stupid goody goody thing that comes across as rediculous in the live action comic movies. Too bad he took the black suit off.

    You were right about one thing Vic. You jokingly said we probably would end up switching sides after seeing this movie. To explain, Vic normally loves Spidey and is sickeningly biassed in his reviews. I, on the other hand, see these live action polutions of good comic books for what they usually really are and it ain’t good. Funny how the only two good ones (Ghost Rider and Spidey 3) are the two Vic rates down.

  12. LOL, dude… have you READ some of the OTHER reviews out there? :-)

    I’m stunned to hear you say you liked it, really I am! Overall I didn’t dislike it, I just thought there were things that could have been done better. And there’s no doubt this was better than GR. ;-)


  13. It’s not that i hated the movie, but when i went to go see it i expected it to be better. I’m onot saying it sucked but some scenes made me want to run out of the theater( peter dancing ). on the other hand there were some really cool scenes (the first fight with Harry). But I think the main reason everone’s dissapointed with this movie isn’t because it sucked, it’s because our expectations were too high.

  14. Matt, that’s always a danger with a movie like this. That’s what I’m going through with “Iron Man”. Everything I’ve seen about it so far looks AMAZING and Favreau seems to be making all the right choices. However I could be setting myself up for a very big disappointment.


  15. It must have a lot to do with expectations with this one. I didn’t much care for the first 2 movies, but this one seemed okay. It was a little long on some of the absurd Peter Parker stuff, but that could be said of all 3 movies in my opinion.

  16. Hap, you sound like my friend Randy, above. He didn’t like the first two either and actually thought this one was better.

    Go figure. :-)


  17. Hello everyone, sorry I’m late. My name is Jared, and I feel that this film lived up to the other two as being the worst trilogy next to the Star Wars prequels. Really, how anyone can say that bad acting, 5 long moments of crying, and inane dialogue, are enjoyable, is beyond me. This, and the other two go on my list as three of the worst films ever created. Sam Raimi, I love all his other films, but, really, this is just a terrible waste of millions of peoples’ time as well as my own. I give this film a 1 out of 5. Well, it wasn’t as bad as Batman Returns, Batman Forever, or Batman and Robin. But…yeah it’s just as terrible as those.

  18. LOL, yeah… the guy’s actually a friend of mine. We tend to kid each other a lot regarding our respective taste in movies.

    Of course, I’m the one who’s RIGHT. :-)


  19. There’s no accounting for taste but Ghost Rider and S3? Dude…

  20. i loved this movie. i am a huge spiderman fan. i never read the comic where i lived thier was ni comic store so i watch the tv show. and read stuff about spiderman online. i think what the should done was when peter got rid of the black suit it would have been thier.
    sandman would have died in the subway. and the final fight would have been netween the new goblin and spiderman. like in the comic harry is fighting peter and then peter get stuck ing a fire and harry saves peter but is die because of the formal and would say peter you are my best friend.
    then after the formal have eddie in the church. he ould hear someone coming so would go to the bell tower and found the symbotic symbol. and touch it to see what it was and like the snece in the movie right when you see venom would have gone to the credits
    i thought this was the best of all the spiderman films

  21. Hi. I just wanted to let you know that I cited your post in my own review of the movie. Thanks, and check it out.

  22. I like your idea of Venom possessing a dog. That’d be freaking scary. O_o

  23. This movie wasn’t great and I agree it was the weakest on the trilogy but it was still an entertaining film and I have to say it’s my favorite out of all 3