Peter finally seems to have struck a balance between his life as Peter Parker and his life as Spider-Man. That is until an alien symbiote attaches itself to Peter, giving him a brand new black suit and amplifying both his powers and his emotions. As well as this, Spidey has three new villains to face; New Goblin, Sandman and the long awaited Venom.
Spider-Man 3 has been labelled one of the worst superhero films ever by many fans and critics, but I believe that to be a major exaggeration. Spider-Man 3 certainly has it's issues and many of them are major but there's also a lot of good elements in this film as well. Spider-Man 3 is undoubtedly the biggest film of Raimi's trilogy but bigger unfortunately means that we lose a lot of the intimacy and focus of the first two films. There are too many characters and too many plot lines. On a script level, Spider-Man 3 is drastically unfocused. We switch from villain to villain, plot to plot just far too quickly. Within the first act, three conflicts have already been established.
What I can say for Spider-Man 3 is that the central conflict was certainly the right path to take Spider-Man down. Just as Peter has reached the perfect balance, it needs to be taken away from him. An outside factor (in the form of an alien symbiote) bonds with Peter and ruins him, his arc is how he comes back from such darkness. The film unfortunately never goes very far with this darkness, he just turns into a highly emotional and more aggressive man. The big talking point of Spider-Man 3 is of course the scenes in which Peter sports a new haircut and dances down the streets of New York. I really get what Raimi was going for with these moments. He wasn't trying to portray Peter as being cool, he was making a point of how ridiculous this new suit is making him. You can easily get that from the faces of the people around him. Raimi could have gone a different way with these moments but I appreciate his effort.
Spider-Man 3 truly could have benefited from being split into two films. Let the first film focus on Peter's struggle with his new found power, his conflicts with Harry Osborn and Sandman and then transition that into a fourth film in which he ditches the suit but it finds a new host in Eddie Brock. This 139 minute film simply tries to pack in way too much, whether that be a studio mandated decision or simply Raimi running out of creative steam on this franchise. Because of the film attempting to cram too much in, fan favourite characters and stories aren't given the attention they deserve. Venom, arguably Spider-Man's most beloved antagonist is given the final 20 minutes of the film.
There are shades of greatness within this third film. The Sandman stuff was really effective; the connection he has to Peter is great especially considering Peter's new found aggression. The birth of Sandman is actually the best scene in the film and one of the most emotionally engaging scenes of Raimi's career, it's visually stunning and incredibly poignant. The action is larger but unlike Spider-Man 2, it fails to all stem from the story. Action beats happen for the sake of them happening. The action is all very entertaining but it often feels forced and random.
Spider-Man 3 is certainly the weakest of Raimi's trilogy, but it's not the unwatchable disaster that many claim it to be. Like Raimi's previous films, it has a beating heart. Despite it's shortcomings, the film's central themes of forgiveness and redemption are seen through. Perhaps give Spider-Man 3 another chance.