Ok, it's taken me a few days, but here it is. My long awaited review of Spiderman 3.
Warning, there are MAJOR spoilers here, so if you don't want to know what happens, don't read!
I saw Spiderman 3 last Friday, on opening night. I even snuck out of work a little early in order to get to the theater on time. I knew there would be a line. I got to the theater at about 6:15pm for the 7:10pm show. I met my friend Dave there and we got in line. We were one of the first couple of people in line. Since we were at the front of the line and the line went around a corner, I never even noticed how big the line was! It seemed like a small line to me. Turns out there was a REALLY long line behind us. Anyway, we get into the theater, sit down, sit through the usual 20 minutes(!) of previews and the movie starts...
The movie opens with Peter and Harry (separately) going to attend Mary Janes opening night on Broadway. Harry is sitting up in a private skybox and Peter is sitting in the front row. When your girlfriend is the star you get the perks... Mary Jane begins singing her opening number. Peter is having a fantastic time. He's grinning and singing along with the musical number. Harry, meanwhile is sitting in the skybox, clearly angry, glaring down at Peter.
First let me say that Kirsten Dunst isn't exactly the best singer in the world. She wasn't horrible, but I could have done without the singing. It was dumb. They could have easily made it another type of show where we weren't subjected to her singing. Oh well.
The show ends and Peter and MJ leave. Both are on top of the world. MJ is opening her first Broadway play, and Spiderman is hugely popular with the city. Harry, meanwhile is miserable. Peter and Harry run into each other outside the show. Peter tries to get Harry to talk to him, but Harry angrily blows him off and leaves, commenting about his father's death.
Later, we cut to Peter and MJ lying in a giant spiderweb in the park. They are happily lying there watching a meteor shower. This giant spiderweb struck me as odd. It looked more like it was made out of steel than spiderweb. Are his webs really that strong? A meteor lands nearby in the park. A certain black ooze flows out of the meteor. Peter and MJ leave the web and hop on board Peter's scooter to head out. The black ooze jumps onto the scooter and hitches a ride out of the park, without either of them knowing.
Next we meet Flint Marko, a.k.a the soon to be Sandman. He has just escaped prison and is heading back home to see his wife and sick daughter. He and his wife have an loud argument. His wife calls him a criminal and tells him to stay away from his daughter. He picks up a change of clothes here. It's here that he gets that famous green striped shirt that he is so famous for. He comments to his wife that "I'm not a criminal. I've just had bad luck". You can really sympathize with the guy. After arguing with his wife, in front of his daughter, he leaves.
Marko then goes on the run. He's eventually spotted by the cops who go after him. He runs from the cops, and ends up running into a research facility. A facility doing particle research on a big pile of sand. He stumbles into the middle of the experiment and is 'disintegrated' along with the sand. This scene has some spectacular CGI effects of him getting gradually 'sanded' away into nothingness. He is seemingly destroyed in the experiment. After a while though, you start to see the sand move. A vaguely human shape forms from the sand. It's clear that he is at this point barely holding his form together. Eventually he manages to pull himself back together. He does this through a very touching scene of him reaching for a locket with his daughter's picture in it. It is this picture of his daughter that allows him to pull himself together. He needs to 'solidify' himself so he can pick up this treasured item. Throughout the rest of the movie, you can see him wearing this locket around his neck.
Then we cut to Harry's Goblin lab. The camera pans over various goblin bombs, the goblin glider from Spiderman 1 and even the mask from Spiderman 1. Ok, this I was expecting. But then the camera continues to pan over the items in the lab and we see the new goblin mask and the 'goblin snowboard' (as I call it). This, I wasn't expecting. Was this stuff there all along or did Harry design this stuff? I would rather expect it was there all along. We see Harry walking out of the gas chamber - the same gas chamber that gave his father his Goblin powers. It looks like Harry has finally decided to do something about Peter.
Peter goes to visit Aunt May. He tells her that he's decided to ask MJ to marry him. She is overjoyed and gives him her engagement ring that Uncle Ben gave her, almost 50 years ago. The fact that she states that they would have been married 50 years, gives us a good indication of her (and Uncle Ben's) ages. He happily takes the enagement ring and leaves.
A bit later, we see Peter again, riding along on his 'nerd-mobile' scooter. Apparently, he's on the way home from just visiting Aunt May and getting the engagement ring. The new Goblin swoops down and grabs him right off the scooter and carries him into the sky. They then begin a spectacular fight. It was really cool to see a full blown Spidey fight without the costume. We even get to see some 'web bullets' being used. This was the first time I've ever seen this in the movies. During the surprise attach, Peter drops the engagement ring. During the entire fight, he's not only trying to defend himself, he's also trying to catch that falling ring. It's here that we see the shot of Peter falling, grasping the engagement ring. This is one of the shots from my original article. Harry puts up an admirable fight, but it's clear he's new at this. Eventually Peter manages to beat him. In the process of beating him, Peter knocks him off his goblin snowboard and nearly kills him. Harry is rushed to the hospital where he is recovering. While recovering, Harry conveniently seems to completely forget all about his hatred of Peter and even doesn't seem to remember about his father's death of Peter's role in it.
Next we see Peter at home. He gets yelled at by his Russian landlord for the rent. It was a nice to see them bring back the character of his landlord and her homely daughter in this movie. The landlord's daughter is friendly and very clearly has a huge crush on Peter. Peter goes into his room and falls asleep on his bed - conveniently wearing his Spiderman suit. As he lies there sleeping, the black ooze decides to make it's move and jumps onto Peter. It flows over his suit, turning the entire suit black. Thus we have the birth of the black costume. I found it a bit too convenient that he would just happen to be wearing the Spiderman suit when this happened. Yeah, it was a cool scene, but it seemed a bit contrived.
The next thing Peter realizes, he's not in bed anymore. He's in the black suit hanging from a building. Clearly he doesn't realize how he got here. He's stunned to find himself in a black suit, but finds that he likes it. He feels more powerful in this new suit. One interesting thing to note here that a lot of people may not realize is that this is a blatant reference to the comic book. In the comic books, the suit not only influences his mind, at times, while he is sleeping the suit actually controls his body! This is how he winds up not in bed. The suit was actually controlling him, making him leave his home and go out and hang from this building. Who knows what else the suit made him do while he was sleep!
Soon, Peter and Aunt May are contacted my Captain Stacy - the chief of police. Apparently they have discovered that Flint Marko was the actual killer of Uncle Ben, not the nameless criminal Peter encountered in the first movie. This happens not long after Peter gets the black costume. He's already starting to feel the effects of it, though he doesn't realize it. He gets very angry when he finds out about this and decides to go out and 'get' the man who killed Uncle Ben. I found this whole idea of making Sandman his uncle's killer a bit stupid. It changes everything that happened in the past, just to give Peter a connection to the latest bad guy he has to fight. This news later leads Peter to attack the new Sandman, wearing the black costume. This is about the only fight we get to see with him in the black costume. It is a particularly brutal fight though, leading to the apparent death of the Sandman when Spiderman manages to 'drown' the sandman in a flood of water ('Mudman'?') He clearly seems to be happy that he killed Sandman. This is definately a side of the darker Spiderman showing itself. He even sort of brags about this killing to Aunt May.
On a side note, the black costume was conspicuously absent for most of the movie. He only really wears the black suit once or twice that I could recall. He wears it during a big fight scene later with Sandman and that's about it. The rest of the time, he's just wearing the black suit underneath his clothes. It's clearly influencing him, it's just not influencing him so much on the Spiderman side as it is on the Peter Parker side.
Meanwhile, MJ's life is falling apart. After a bad review of her opening night performance, she is fired from the play. She is also feeling 'left out' by Peter. He's on top of the world as Spiderman and not seeming to notice her problems. He doesn't even realize that she got fired from the play! He makes a lame attempt at proposing to her during a fancy dinner. Of course by now she is so upset that the proposal never happens and she storms out. Granted his is somewhat under the influence of the black costume, but at this point it is early enough that it seems to be more him screwing up, than the costume causing it.
At some point Peter takes a piece of the costume to one of his science teachers - a certain Dr. Conners. This is a scientist who happens to be missing an arm. As any comic book fan will know, this Dr. Conners is the same Dr. Conners that later becomes The Lizard. He also has a certain cute blond named Gwen Stacy (daughter of the chief of police) as his lab partner in this class. He leaves the piece of the costume with Dr. Conners for him to study it. Clearly this piece of the costume he leaves here is alive, since it tries very hard to jump back on Peter. Dr. Conners stops it from escaping and keeps it to analyse. This is a very important scene to remember. I think this scene could very well be an indication of what we will see in Spiderman 4, should it ever come to be. We've seen Dr. Conners before. We know he eventually becomes the Lizard. Later, in the finale of the movie, Peter manages to kill the costume... However, many people will forget, there is a small piece of the costume left alive! It is this piece in Dr. Conner's possession. This left over piece is a clear indication of what will come in the next movie. Either we'll see the return of Venom or perhaps even Carnage. (a much more evil version of Venom).
Another person Peter encounters in the movie is Eddie Brock. He is a young photographer who is also doing freelance work for the Daily Bugle. He's also dating Gwen Stacy. Eddie is a very aggressive photographer. He is always on the lookout for get photos to sell to the Bugle. Over time, him and Peter start to compete for who will sell photos of Spiderman to the Bugle. They are told that whomever can get a photo of Spiderman commiting a crime first, will be given a full time job at the paper. Later, Eddie manages to get this photo of Spiderman commiting a crime. The Bugle runs this photo as a front page story. Later, Peter while under the influence of the black costume discovers that the photo is a fake. Eddie doctored the photo to make it what they wanted in a desparate attempt to get the job. Peter publicly ruins him at the paper and gets him fired. This leads to Eddie getting very depressed. He later winds up at a church, praying for (of all things) for God to kill Peter.
Harry, meanwhile has started to remember everything he forgot when he was hurt in his first fight with Spiderman. Eventually he remembers it all and sets out again to get revenge on Spiderman. This time he takes a different tactic. He attacks MJ and tells her to publicly dump Peter and say that she was dating Harry. MJ does so and breaks Peter's heart. Harry, hidden nearby watches the whole thing and enjoys every minute of it. It is this extremely bad moment that causes Peter to 'escape' into the influence of the black costume. Later, while under the influence of the black costume, Peter returns to Harry's home and ends up getting into another fight with Harry. Once again they fight and once again Harry loses. This time Harry throws a goblin bomb at him. Peter catches it and throws it back at Harry, causing the bomb to explode in Harry's face.
Peter, how fully under the influence of the costume, goes around town, having all kinds of fun. He struts around town, acting all confident. He publicly ruins Eddie Brock (see above). He then takes Gwen Stacy on a date to the jazz club where an unemployed MJ has taken a job as a singing waitress. He publicly dances with Gwen, right in front of MJ. He does a big, elaborate, Spiderman enhanced dance number at the jazz club. I could have seriously done without this whole sequence. The whole 'strutting' scenes and the dance number were very cornball and dumb. Anyway, after strutting his stuff in front of MJ, Gwen realizes how much of a jerk he is and apologizes to MJ and leaves. MJ confronts him, and in the heat of the argument he hits her hard and hurts her. It is at this moment that he realizes just how much the costume is influencing him. In despair he runs from the jazz club. He later changes into the black costume and sits outside the church sadly trying to decide what to do. Finally he decides to get rid of the black costume for good. He enters the church, up at the bell tower... This is the same church that a certain depressed Eddie Brock is also located in down below...
Peter stands in the bell tower of the church, struggling to pull off the suit. It is fighting him and doesn't want to come off. As he is struggling with the suit, he stumbles and hits the church bell next to him. It goes off with a loud noise. Unnoticed by him, the symbiote doesn't like this loud sound and it leave him, dripping down to the church below. During this whole fight with the suit, Eddie happens to look up and sees Peter, fighting the suit. When the suit drips down, it drips onto Eddie, immediately taking over him and turning him into Venom.
Peter returns home. While he is at home, Venom locates Sandman and suggests they team up and attack Spiderman. Sandman agrees. Venom kidnaps MJ and carries her, and the cab she is in, up 60 stories and ties her up in a large web, as a blatant trap for Spiderman. The TV news finds about about this and broadcasts the entire thing over the news. Peter sees this and knows he has to stop them both.
The problem is, Peter knows he can't stop both of them by himself. Despite their differences, he goes to Harry and asks him to help save MJ. Harry, still very angry, tells him no and orders him to leave. Peter leaves, knowing that he can't win, but he goes to save MJ anyway. After he leaves, Harry's butler (of all people) appears to talk to Harry. He tells Harry that he took care of Harry's father's body when Spiderman brought him in. He could tell that Harry's father's injuries were clearly not his fault. Harry suddenly realizes that Peter was telling the truth and that he did not kill his father.
We cut to the site of Venom and Sandman's trap for Spiderman. He approaches, the news broadcasting every moment. He goes in and tries to rescue MJ. Both Sandman and Venom attack. He does his best to fight them but is losing. Suddenly Harry, as the new Goblin appears, to help Peter. This leads into one of the coolest fight scenes I've ever seen in a comic book movie. I've always wanted to see a good superhero teamup and this one did not dissapoint. They fight for a while. Harry and Peter make a great team in this fight. Though once again Harry is clearly outclassed. He ends up losing - badly. Venom ends up impaling him through the back on his 'snowboard' - an injury very reminiscent of his father's death.
While fighting Venom, a large pile of metal rods gets knocked loose. They fall to the ground around Venom making a series of loud 'clangs'. Venom screams in pain at the sound. Peter realizes that he sound can kill Venom. So he grabs the metal rods and rapidly builds a cage around Venom with them. He then starts the rods vibrating to contain Venom. While Venom is screaming in pain, he webs Eddie and pulls him away from Venom and out of the 'cage', seemly saving him. Peter then grabs a spare goblin bomb and throws it into the cage, preparing to blow up Venom and kill it. When Eddie realizes what is going to happen, he screams in horror and jumps back into the cage to try to save Venom. The Goblin bomb blows up, killing both Venom and Eddie.
At this point, Sandman calls off the attack and shows up, in human form. Peter and him talk about Sandman's killing of Uncle Ben. I didn't entirely understand Marko's explanation of what happens, but I got the impression that he was saying that Ben's death was an accident. I'll have to watch this scene again to better understand his explanation. After this, Peter forgives Sandman for killing Uncle Ben. Sandman then turns back to sand and blows away (leaving). I have to say that I was impressed by this. This is the first time a bad guy has actually survived a Spiderman movie! I always found it a bit convenient that the bad guys find out his identity and then just happen to die.
Peter and a newly freed MJ return to Harry. He is lying on the floor dying from being stabbed by Venom. They talk and he says goodbye to his best friend. The movie ends with Harry's funeral.
Thomas Hayden Church did a fantastic job as Flint Marko / Sandman. You really felt for the guy. For a criminal, he was a very sympathetic character.
Aunt May was hardly even in the movie except for maybe two short scenes.
James Franco did a great job as Harry and the New Goblin.
Topher Grace did a horrible job as Eddie Brock / Venom. I found his whole motivation for wanting to kill Peter completely lacking. He wasn't scary at all. He was more laughable. While Venom was cool looking with the maks on, he wasn't quite right. In the comic book, Venom is always portrayed with a big mouth full of huge, sharp teeth and a huge reptile-like tongue. While he had the sharp teeth, they were rather small and the tongue was nowhere to be seen.
All in all, I have to say that I loved this movie. It was by far the best Spiderman movie yet. It wasn't as cheesy as the previous two and it had some spectacular fight scenes and special effects. I could have done without MJ singing, or Peter dancing, but other than that, I have few complains.
Go see it! You won't be disappointed.