Plot: After immense turmoil in both his personal life and his crime-fighting persona, Peter Parker (Tobey Maguire) has finally found some balance and things seem to be on track. Spider-Man is seen by most as a hero and Peter’s relationship with Mary Jane (Kirsten Dunst) is better than ever. But his progress is endangered when his suit is infected with a mysterious black substance, which slowly turns his personality to a darker, more selfish tone. Meanwhile, a career criminal named Flint Marko (Thomas Haden Church) has inherited some imposing powers after an accident, Harry Osborne (James Franco) remains as dedicated to vengeance as ever, and a rival photographer is causing Parker all kinds of trouble. As he becomes apathetic to those around him, these enemies begin to run rampant and Spider-Man is nowhere to be found, draining hope from the city’s residents and empowering those critical of the web slinger. Could this be the end of Spider-Man?
Entertainment Value: The final installment in Sam Raimi’s Spider-Man series is more than ambitious, with several big narrative threads in motion, but the movie collapses under the weight of it all. The writing here is simply too weak to support even one of the main stories, let alone multiple story lines, some of which involve new characters that have to be introduced and developed. I don’t mind new villains, but the Sandman arc is so forced and rushed, while the Eddie Brock thread is easily the worst part of the entire franchise. All of these new elements also have a negative impact on the series’ larger arcs, as so much time is spent on the exposition of these new characters and stories. This means less time to resolve the core narrative threads, which is a shame, as it sends off the series with a whimper. The movie is also drawn out and features the worst action scenes of the franchise, not to mention the infamous “emo Peter Parker” dance routine that spawned countless memes. Spider-Man 3 is still watchable if you love superhero movies, but what a flat finish to an otherwise solid series.
As I’ve said in my reviews of the other films in this series, I’ve never been a fan of Tobey Maguire as Peter Parker. He continues to lack the easy charisma and charm of the comic book version Parker, turning in a bland, forgettable performance. While he was generic as a good guy, he is hilarious as an anti-hero and his performance is so bad in those scenes, you can’t help but be entertained. The emo dance number is pure bad movie legend status and is reason alone to see Spider-Man 3 at least once, it is that ridiculous and outlandish. Kirsten Dunst shows some solid presence when the script allows, while James Franco is also good when he gets the chance. But the narrative here is so spread out and thin, even the series’ regulars are unable to get much of a chance to shine, which is a shame. Topher Grace stinks up the place as Eddie Brock, in the franchise’s weakest thread and just a horrible casting decision. The cast also includes Thomas Haden Church, J.K. Simmons, Bryce Dallas Howard, and Dylan Baker.