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"Making the most of every opportunity, because the days are evil."

~Ephesians 5:16

Friday, December 30, 2011

Spider-Man 3 Review

Ah, Spider-Man 3. It's been two years since I've last seen it, this would be my sixth time watching it. I was one of the few who came out of the theater satisfied, saw it on Blu-Ray, and loved it even more. I remember back in 2006 when it was the most hyped movie of the decade. Ah, the memories of me scouring the internet day in and day out searching for updates on it. I remember seeing the first trailer and thinking "The Symbiote? That means.......VENOM!" My dream of a film. Spider-Man and Venom together on the big screen, that's what I was looking forward to. I kept searching 'Spider-Man 3 Venom' in hopes of finding some info on what our favorite Symbiote would look like. I went through pages and pages of fan-art, it wasn't until the last trailer when we got some Venom action. Best. Trailer. Ever. I wanted to go see it opening day on May 4th, but I ended up seeing it eight days later on May 12th. I went in there in a "unbelivable, I'm actually about to watch it" mood. I enjoyed it, my friend whom I was watching it with thought it could have been better. I don't remember my exact feelings, I just remembered liking it. It wasn't until I got it on Blu-Ray two years ago when I realized just how great it is. Now that I consider myself a pretty good reviewer, I decided to check out this film again. Reading all the hate within those two years made me think "Was it really bad, did I just WANT to like it?" Now that I've seen it again, I can safely say nope. I still loved it. It's still my favorite comic book movie. I'll state my reasons and logic in the coming paragraphs.

Is it really necessary to mention the plot? By now everyone knows what it is. I guess I should mention it anyway. The story follows Peter, who is more upbeat than ever. Spider-Man is known to New York as a hero, and he's going to ask Mary Jane to marry him. Life is good. Until it is found out that the man who everyone thought killed Uncle Ben didn't. It turns out a man named Flint Marko did it, and he's currently on the run. Meanwhile, a small object from space has crash landed. In it, a black symbiote comes out. It eventually attaches itself to a sleeping Spidey. When he awakes, he finds himself on the side of a building in a black costume. He finds that he's stronger and faster with it and goes after Marko, who now has sand powers. Spidey manages to beat and seemingly kill 'Sandman.' Eventually, after a scene with Mary Jane, he realizes the suit is evil. He goes to a church and attempts to take it off. At the bottom floor, Eddie Brock, a fired photographer due to Peter calling him out on a photo-shopped picture, is there watching the whole thing. Peter manages to free himself from the symbiote, and the ladder goes down and attaches itself to Brock. They are bonded and become (you guessed it) Venom. On top of all this, Peter has to deal with Harry, who blames Peter for the death of his father, the Green Goblin.

I remember back in an interview for the now deceased Spider-Man 4 an actor said something like "My character is not dead." It was never known who it was, but it was probably Venom. Originally, Venom wasn't going to be in this film, it was the studio that wanted him in. I've read probably thousands of reviews saying all the negatives of the film. "Too much happening" being a main thing. Let's get one thing straight: I agree. There are too many plots. Sandman, Harry, the Symbiote, and Venom. Venom should not have been in the film, he should have been set up for the sequel. (Of course, now that there is no sequel, I'm glad they used him, imagine seeing Venom after the credits and then finding out Spider-Man 4 was canceled in favor of a reboot.) Sometimes the focus would be on one thing too long, and then another would be lost. Like, the Symbiote appeared, but was forgotten for sometime. And yes, the actual Peter-with-the-Symbiote plot should have been expanded. With all that said, I want to talk about why despite all that, it's still a solid film.

For a film with all that happening, it does a darn good job with making it feel not too rushed. The whole Harry against Peter thing was wrapped up nicely. The first fight between the two was wonderfully executed, everything about it was epic. The second fight between them was appropriately gritty. It's good stuff. In fact, the  fight scenes in this film are some of the best I've ever seen in a comic book movie. The effects and CGI overall are step above from the previous films and still holds up great four years later. (Especially in Blu-Ray.) However, it's the cast that make this film solid. Very interesting cast of characters in this one.

A lot of people consider Toby Maguire's portrayal of the web head to be good, but lacking the character's trademark wisecracks. I agree, but in this film, he gives off the upbeat outlook on things Peter does in the comics. Gotta say, his portrayal in this film was spot-on. He brought the upbeat, humorous outlook portrayal from the comics. And I don't care what anyone says......I liked Kirsten Dunst as Mary Jane. She had a very 'sweet' outlook, the first couple of scenes with her is proof that she's a good Mary Jane. Her portrayal matches more of the late 80's comic version. It's a stretch, and I'm not saying she was perfect, but well enough. James Franco as Harry Osborn does a very solid job. One of the best in the film, his hatred toward Peter matches the comics well. (And the few scenes with Norman talking to him is amazingly done.)  The 'New Goblin' design I found was cool, but would have been better if it actually had some Goblin features. Thomas Haden Church as the Sandman was superb. I especially liked the scene where Spidey came in and said "I'm the sheriff around these parts." And then Sandman just says "Okay." Now, for the main reason why I wanted to see this film in the first place, Venom.

Topher Grace was a rather interesting choice for Eddie Brock. When I watched Spider-Man 3 for the first time, I hadn't read much, if any Spidey comics with Venom from the Mcfarlane era. It wasn't until later that I realized how inaccurate the portrayal was. What incarnation was Raimi trying to do? The Eddie Brock from the mainstream universe was a rough, weight-lifting guy, not some puny person who gets threatened easily. It gave off more of an Ultimate universe impression. (And even then, it didn't match that.) With that said, the actual performance was mixed. On one hand, this version of Eddie Brock matches the comics 0%, but ignoring that, the performance was solid. (Of course, it's pretty much impossible to ignore that.) The actual transformation into Venom still ranks as my favorite movie scene ever. It was wonderfully executed. (I remember how amazing it looked on the big screen.)

A lot of fans complain at how Venom looked. He didn't match the bulky, Hulk-like look from his first appearances in the comics. While that is true, what a lot of fans don't realize is that in the Howard Mackie run, Venom wasn't his bulky self. In that run, he was thinned down and given more of a horrific look. I think the film's Venom was based on that run's version. So I'm alright with the look. My problem is that when he's Venom, Brock spends more time talking without the Symbiote covering his face. C'mon, that gets annoying. As for Venom's actual portrayal, I thought it was actually pretty good. I mean, I love the part where he has Spidey on the web, then he transforms into Venom, roars, then Mary Jane drops a brick on him, then he roars again and then he Spidey fall and start battling it out. (All of this is executed wonderfully with outstanding effects.) Look, I think the actual Venom portrayal was spot-on, he gave off that horrific feel, it was Topher Grace who brought it down. There is one scene that to this day I still don't like. Venom would never ask anyone for help in defeating Spidey, it just doesn't go. As for the other charaters. Gwen Stacy was one of the big announcements back in the day. After watching the film again, I can say that her character was not needed. She could have been cut off the film, not to mention that the actress who portrays her wasn't that great. Not a horrible job, but not great. J. K. Simmons did another great job as J. Jonah Jameson, and the French guy at the restaurant stole the show. (No joke, every scene he was in was priceless.)

The majority of soundtracks in comic book movies could be better. The soundtrack in this film stands above a lot of comic book movies, it has some great themes. (Spidey's theme never stops being so catchy.) I especially liked the theme where Peter battled Harry in the ladder's mansion, and Sandman's theme was dramatic. One of the big things with this film was the revelation that Flint Marko was the one responsible for the death of Uncle Ben. I still don't like how they did that, but it fits for the film. Then there's the infamous dance scene. Really, the majority DESPISE this scene. What do I have to say about it? The Symbiote plays on emotion, namely anger. I didn't mind the scene all that much, it was slowly turning Peter into an evil entity. Could the scene have been done differently? Of course, but it didn't ruin the film for me.

Overall, Spider-Man 3 is a very solid film. Some parts are rushed I'll admit. The whole Symbiote plot should have been expanded, and Venom needed a heck lot more screen time. Gwen Stacy shouldn't have been added, and there should have been a better Eddie Brock. However, none of it hindered the experience. I've seen this film six times now, and I've gained a better respect for it each time. It has lots of action to keep the viewer entertained, yet still keeps a good, emotional, and dramatic story. The effects are top notch, and looking back at it now as the final film of that continuity, it's a fitting end. I understand all the hate this film gets, but to call it one of the worst comic book movies is absurd. While I was disappointed at how underused Venom was, the film did give us Spidey and him in the same film, with good and decent portrayals of each. (Would have been nice if we got the "We're Venom!" quote.) Spider-Man 3 may be known as infamous, but it will always be my personal favorite comic book movie.



  1. Great Review - You've got me in the mood to watch the film myself now.

    I also loved it, mainly for the same reasons you listed, and I'm one of the few people who liked the 'Dance' scene!

    I just wish that Peter and MJ had more of a reconciliation at the end, considering it was the final movie.

    Great film, with a great final battle scene that trumped the earlier two films' climatic scenes! I still get tingles when Harry Goblin turns up and helps Spidey!

  2. Interesting take.

    I didn't quite like the film as much as I thought it would. Personally, the film wasn't that great cause it was too packed. I would prefer it to be a little more compact. It was a good attempt but it just didn't turn out as it should have been.

    It suffered the trilogy curse like X Men: The Last Stand. What they should have done would be to go back to the themes of power and responsibility. They tried doing that by revisiting Uncle Ben but their linkage to Sandman was a bad move. It contradicted the comics.