I found the movie to be even more disappointing than the first two. I realize that many people found the first and most everyone found the second to be crowning moments in the history of superhero cinema, but the previous two installments fell flat to me due mostly to the poor acting by Tobey Maguire and to a lesser extent, Kirsten Dunst.
I know next to nothing about comic books (outside of a quick perusal of Wikipedia), so I care little about what remained faithful to what. I understand there's some controversy over how Venom was presented
(specifically in regards to being killed off in the end),
but I found that to be the most fascinating arc of the movie. Apparently according to interviews, Venom was foistered on the film by the studio, but I found this to be the only interesting villain of the three in the film.
My three biggest problems with the film are:
1) The action sequences felt forced. The only action sequence with an interesting dynamic was the crane sequence. Otherwise, every other sequence felt very derivative of one another, each just occurring in a different locale.
Parker's B-story arc with MJ was horrible. Normally a couple who break up in the beginning of the movie fix whatever problem was in their relationship before they get back together. What exactly that problem is was also dropped around the time the two broke up. Was Peter too self centered? Was MJ feeling inadequate next to Parker? By the end of the film, who remembers? The characters certainly don't
3) My biggest problem with the film:
Venom's wasted potential. The film forgets about this villain until almost half an hour in. Finally, when it comes out, all we get of it is painfully unfunny "comedic" scenes of Tobey Maguire pretending to be a Mack the Knife type character. My friends made fun of his emo hair in the previews, and I remember rationalizing that there must have been a reason for his hair to be like that. No. Wrong. I owe my friends ten bucks. And the eyeliner? Really?
Not only that, but after this "villain" has caused Peter to act like an idiot, we are then supposed to believe that this black goo is a real villain when it falls onto a (horribly miscast) Topher Grace. Nice narrative consistency.
So not only do we have way too many villains for the movie, but they also make us suffer through listening to Dunst "singing" not once, but twice over the course of the movie.
It would have been three times if not for Parker's Mask-esque dance/conniption fit with Gwen Stacy. Speaking of that, when an entire movie is designed to be taken (for the most part) seriously, how did anyone think this was a good idea?. How is narratively consistent that all of a sudden, because of some alien goo, Parker can dance AND play piano. It defined camp in the bad way.
Several high points. James Franco remains the best actor to have touched that franchise. Thomas Hayden Church was fairly effective as Sandman, and Bryce Dallas Howard was surprisingly good (especially based on how much I hate M. Night Shyamalan (and all of his actors, by proxy)).
I give it **/*****
I was hoping that this would hold me over until the next Christopher Nolan Batman film. Now I have to rest my hopes on Fantastic Four....Maybe I'll just go pop in my DVD of Batman Begins instead.