Spider-Man 3 echoes the same overkill and by-the-numbers action that we saw in X-Men 3. While we can blame Ratner for that latter, it’s harder to see what happened to Raimi. Too much studio interference? Incorrectly felt he needed to top fight sequences? Wanted to get everything into what’s reportedly his last Spider-Man film? Just lost interest? While Spider-Man 3 is easily the weakest of the three films I still enjoyed it and will watch again at some point though I thought the same about the others and still have yet to do so. But until then:
* Did somebody think more villains were better? The Osborne/Goblin stuff needed to be wrapped up after all the plot threads in the first two films (not that those threads needed to be there though I was out when Raimi called) but Sandman was an odd choice and Venom seems mainly due to fan requests, which didn’t include mine since I never really “got” the whole Venom-mania thing.
* One of the most threatening aspects of Venom is that due to the symbiosis he knows everything about Parker, something completely omitted here. (Though since Venom is saved for the final showdown there really isn’t much other chance to show this.) Also, the shifting aspect where the black costume became regular street clothes made sense for keeping it originally but also ignored. And why not use the Ultimate Spider-Man version of an experiment-gone-wrong instead of some random space crash?
* For that matter, why all the coincidences? The symbiote just happened to crash near Parker and nobody else (unless Spider-Man 4 is going to be about fighting an invasion of Venoms). It didn’t react with Parker until the most story-appropriate moment. Spider-Man goes to the crane accident which just happens to have his lab partner Gwen who just happens to be the girlfriend of his rival at work which said rival just happens to appear next to her father. She just happens to later be at the very expensive restaurant (on a lieutenant’s pay?).
* One of the worst miscalculations is the Goblin showing up to help Spider-Man at the finale. This is completely set-up and then ignored until just the “right” moment for the Goblin to appear except what’s the point? We all know he’s coming. Raimi, my man, are you listening? We all know he’s coming. Either have him on site from the start or do some Griffith-ian cross-cutting as he tries to reach the scene. Yeah, Goblin II as the Klan, that’s the way to
* And for that matter why did the butler choose that particular moment to come clean? It would only take a short shot of him overhearing the conversation with Spider-Man to motivate this.
* When Parker removes the black costume and it falls on Brock did he not go to look for it? The scene ends with Brock screaming and jumping at the camera but what was Parker doing? Shaking his hands together and wondering whether he wanted pizza or a burger?
* What happened to the Sandman? OK, he’s robbing to get money for his daughter (who I guess really gets nothing in the end) but there’s no explanation for why he becomes a more aggressive bad guy. Did Venom sweet talk him? Momentary insanity? What? In the comics he’s even an honorary Avenger (or was anyway).
* Speaking of Sandman, what’s up with that dangerous experimental technology completely open and apparently guarded only by a regular chainlink fence? Did the police just think Marko was dead and didn’t bother to seal off the area? Just think of the possibility for a CSI: NY cameo.
* The whole forgiveness/redemption thing is out of place (not to mention that it’d be darn near impossible to top Babylon 5 if only because B5 questioned the entire concept of forgiveness). It comes across as the screenwriters not being able to think of any way to defeat Sandman--here’s a hint: four decades of comic books--or just a continuation of the otherwise quickly forgotten attempt to make him “sympathetic”.