Spider-Man 3

Directed By: Sam Raimi
Starring: Tobey Maguire, Kirsten Dunst, James Franco, Thomas Haden Church, Topher Grace, Bryce Dallas Howard, Rosemary Harris, and J.K. Simmons
The bar was set high for Sam Raimi after the towering successes of Spider-Man and Spider-Man 2, two of the greatest comic book movies of all time.  How do you come up with a story and a film great enough to at least match its predecessors?  Admittedly, it's a daunting task for any director.  In trying to outdo himself, Sam Raimi decided to throw the kitchen sink at Spider-Man 3.  With three villains terrorizing New York, marriage up in the air, and untold secrets revealed, Sam Raimi tries to do way too much with Spider-Man 3.
Life is looking up for Peter Parker (Tobey Maguire).  He's doing well in school and is at the top of his class.  He's with Mary Jane Watson (Kirsten Dunst), the woman he loves, and is getting ready to propose to her.  His alter ego Spider-Man is now beloved by all, and New York has decided to give him the key to the city.  The world is Spidey's oyster, at least for now.  While out for a romantic evening in the park with Mary Jane watching a meteor shower, a meteorite lands nearby, and a black tar-like substance attaches itself to Peter's moped.
After Peter asks for Aunt May's (Rosemary Harris) blessing to propose to Mary Jane, he heads home but is attacked by Harry Osborn (James Franco) along the way.  Leveraging his father's arsenal of Green Goblin weapons, Osborn unleashes hell on the man he blames for his father's death.  He underestimates Parker however, as the altercation results in Osborn taking a hard blow to the head and later suffering from a severe case of amnesia.  He remembers nothing of the past several years and barely remembers that his father is dead.  That's an unfortunate win for Peter, but not a permanent one.
Flint Marko (Thomas Haden Church) escapes from prison.  While fleeing the police, he climbs a fence and unknowingly jumps inside a particle accelerator.  He's landed in the middle of an experiment, and when the accelerator is turned on with him and some sand in it, he becomes something else entirely—the Sandman.  As his body is now composed of sand, he can change his body shape at will.  It just so happens that Marko is the guy who actually shot and killed Peter’s uncle Ben Parker (Cliff Robertson) years ago.
When the police inform Peter and Aunt May of the situation, Peter decides to take life and death into his own hands.  He's going to kill Flint Marko.  Enraged, Peter waits for his opportunity to strike and lies awake in his bed tuning into the police radio frequency.  As revenge takes hold of Peter's heart, the black tar-like substance that latched onto his bike takes hold of his Spider-Man suit.  When Peter goes after Marko, he finds his powers have been enhanced by his new black suit.  He’s stronger and faster.  The problem is that he’s also now darker and colder, not personality traits common among superheroes.
There’s so much going on in Spider-Man 3 that I can’t even fully summarize the film’s plot.  I’ve completely left out Topher Grace’s Eddie Brock, Bryce Dallas Howard’s Gwen Stacy, and their respective storylines.  Director Sam Raimi crams three villains, a troubled romance, the corruption of a hero, and an old twist on a murder into his latest flick about our web crawling hero.  In trying to make Spider-Man 3 the biggest, most explosive Spider-Man film yet, he fails miserably.  Instead, Raimi turns his third installment into a mediocre film full of underdeveloped characters that is not in the same league as its predecessors.  The first two films were about the birth and growth of a hero.  This third one is an unclear muddle about Spider-Man’s corruption and everyone else's issues with him.
I like Thomas Haden Church as much as the next guy, but the Sandman storyline is completely unnecessary.  In two hours, Raimi cannot possibly allocate enough time to develop Flint Marko into a meaningful foe for Spider-Man.  That's why he takes the easy route of rewriting the film's history and labeling Marko as the man who actually killed Uncle Ben.  For whatever the reason, the police have been hiding their findings on this suspect throughout Spider-Man and Spider-Man 2.  They've conveniently decided to tell the family about him now.  To top things off, Church turns the Sandman into a moping, whiny guy who has just had a run of bad luck.  He's no badass like the Green Goblin or Doc Ock, but that's exactly what this movie needs.

Topher Grace is an interesting yet unrewarding addition to the world of Spider-Man.  Grace's Eddie Brock is a slick-talking, amusing nobody who tries to cheat his way to success at The Daily Bugle.  When he gets called out on his crap, he starts pouting.  When he takes the black Spider-Man suit, he then becomes vindictive.  Altogether, this is nothing worthwhile.  We could use a much richer character for a villain.
There are some good things about Spider-Man 3.  The Parker-Osborn feud is definitely quite enjoyable.  It’s something to which Raimi’s flicks have been building throughout the first two films.  Naturally, the culmination of this feud is worthwhile on screen.  It's something that's had sufficient time to fully develop.  James Franco is delightfully evil, and there’s lots of great trash talking between Green Goblin, Jr. and our friendly neighborhood Spidey.  On a lighter note, we have Tobey Maguire acting like a fool on screen as his character is corrupted by the black suit.  He's dancing badly in the streets to music from the 70s.  He's hitting on random hot girls.  He's enjoying life.  Maguire’s darker cockier character is pure comedic gold.

Sam Raimi's Spider-Man 3 should never be mentioned in the same breath as its predecessors.  It's nowhere near as good as its predecessors.  While there definitely are some enjoyable moments, the film fails to bring together that perfect blend of action, heroism, and heart that made the first two films so damn good.  It tries to do entirely too much.  Spider-Man 3 gets a 0.06% rating.  Have a couple of rounds of beer with this one.