Like so much of America, this past weekend I went to see Spider-Man 3. I've been told several times that the movie got "bad reviews". This isn't completely accurate; I've scanned the reviews and I saw what I think are better characterized as "mixed reviews". I'm here to offer a more positive take.
For starters, the movie was not as good as Spider-Man 2. You just can't go into a movie expecting it to be a repeat of the best superhero movie, and anyone who set their expectations that high has only themselves to blame if they weren't entirely satisfied.
This time around your friendly neighborhood Spider-Man delivered with amazing action sequences, practically flawless CGI, just the right amount of campy humor, and plenty of the character drama that makes Spider-Man the greatest comic of all time. That was what made Spider-Man 2 so riveting; that we cared about Peter Parker. This time around the Parker side of the story isn't quite as engaging, and so the movie doesn't quite match up to the previous outing.
But the action is better, and that almost makes up for the shortcoming. This time around Spidey faces off against 3 foes. The Sandman, played with subtle emotion by Thomas Hayden Church, serves as a nice subplot to the two major storylines of the movie. The Green Goblin story wraps up, with Harry finally filling the glider-boots of his dad Norman, the best friend/worst foe storyline modified perfectly from the comic books for the screen. And Venom. Topher Grace is perfect. Plenty of people have taken issue with the fact that Topher isn't a particular menacing figure, but in this role, he works. The whole concept of Venom is that he once was Spider-Man, only now the symbiot takes on another host, a parallel Parker, only evil. Grace is a wonderful doppelganger to Toby Maguire, both as Eddie Brock to Peter Parker, and as Venom to Spider-man. Toss in some amazing graphics, and you've got the perfect Venom.
The one criticism of Spider-Man 3 is that it tries to do too much. There are 3 villains in the film, each of them has a human-persona back story, and of course we have to follow Parker's life too. It's a lot for a single film, and so none of the stories reaches quite the depth that the audience is craving. Of course, had they dwelt much longer on any one particular story line, perhaps director Sam Rami would have been accused of overkill. It's a fine line to walk, and for the most part Rami does it exceptionally well.
I give it an A-.
Look out, here comes the Spider-Man