I saw Spider-Man Three this weekend. I liked it. A lot.
The critics have been panning it pretty severely, but they are wrong. They’ve been complaining that there is too much CGI, that there are too many supervillains, and that the story is unconvincing. Actually, I was impressed by how restrained the film is. In a two and half hour movie there are really only a handful of big action sequences. Unlike many recent action movies, people actually talk to each other in this one. And, c’mon! The CGI is pretty spectaular. The Sandman effects alone are worth the considerable price of admission.
The one criticism with which I agree is that they tried to do a bit too much. I think either Sandman or Venom is interesting enough that they could have been the sole bad guy in the movie. Venom in particular is woefully underdeveloped here. I suspect the reason for including both (not to mention Harry’s stint as the new Green Goblin) was (a) The erroneous feeling, prevalent especially in the Batman movies, that you have to keep topping yourself by doing more extreme things in each sequel and (b) the uncertainty as to whether there would be other Spider-Man movies and the desire to include most of the iconic Spider-Man characters just in case this was the last one.
On the other hand, I thought the writers did an impressive job of weaving together the various characters’ subplots. For example, the triangle between Peter Parker, Mary Jane and Harry Osborn weaves together nicely with Sandman’s own quest for forgiveness.
In the end, the movie passed it’s most important test. After two and a half hours I didn’t want it to end. More so than most comic book movies, the Spider-Man films are made by people who understand that the characters come first, and the action second. I hope they make many more.