Not only did this abortion of a movie kill Tobey Maguire’s Spider-Man, it also spawned Marc Webb’s The Amazing Spider-Man (2012) reboot, a franchise which lasted all of two films.
Yes, it really is as bad as the reputation that precedes it.
If you don’t know what not to watch next, Sam Raimi’s Spider-Man 3 (2007) is available to stream on Hulu. The filmmaker is also part-responsible for Ivan Raimi and Grant Curtis’s script.
That sixty-three percent of positive reviews aggregated via Rotten Tomatoes is a passing grade for a failure of a superhero film.
One year after Raimi’s Spider-Man 2 (2004), the time is right for an uncharacteristically vain Peter Parker (Maguire) to propose to the struggling (not to mention jealous and selfish) Broadway actress Mary Jane Watson (Kirsten Dunst), whose star flickers as Spider-Man’s rises.
Harry Osborn (James Franco), Flint Marko (Thomas Haden Church), Eddie Brock (Topher Grace), and their sisters all do battle with Spider-Man.
Ad interim, an extraterrestrial parasite falls to Earth on a meteorite and bonds itself to Peter, teasing out the dark side of his powers, jeopardizing his humanity, and whispering disastrous hairstyling advice into his ear.
To be fair, Spider-Man 2 was the all-time greatest of its genre until the release of Christopher Nolan’s The Dark Knight (2008), so any sequel was all but destined to fall short (much like Nolan’s own The Dark Knight Rises (2012), as a matter of fact).
And Spider-Man 3 comes its closest to working in the first act, with the conflict between Peter and the New Goblin mounting to a critical pitch throughout the course of the (accidental) trilogy.
Once Harry succumbs to amnesia (yes, seriously), the soap operatic melodrama drowns the drama in so much curdled cheese, and the tightly wound tension wets its pants in a flaccid anticlimax.
Even the laughably miscast Grace as Venom could have seduced Peter into killing Harry under Raimi’s horror auteurship (which distinguishes the hospital setpiece in Spider-Man 2), but, instead, we get a superfluous Sandman, and an underused Gwen Stacy (Bryce Dallas Howard).
Consequently, the character arcs are oversimplified into the most thoughtlessly digestible versions of themselves.
That’s why this critic strained to synopsize this overcrowded picture.
It’s an opportunity missed – Peter could’ve lost MJ after murdering Harry, and then Raimi could’ve directed a sequel about Gwen, with the splendidly computer-animated Sandman as the antagonist – and it’s an opportunity sorely missed, because Maguire is Spider-Man.
His boyish screen persona satisfies the comic book wish fulfillment of a nerd becoming a superhero, as opposed to the hipster supermodel that is Andrew Garfield; Tom Holland is the best of both worlds, and he may not be what Sony deserves, but he is what they need right now.