Well, it was bound to happen. After the first two movies made over 1.6 billion dollars at the box office, one would expect that the egos of the director, the stars, and even the writers would spin out of control. It did and it resulted in a sub-standard movie that seems to have been created by committee.
I am big fan of the Spiderman comic books and really like the way the characters are presented, especially the protagonist. He is nerdy, dorky and with awesome super-powers, but with a biting sarcasm which he uses really well to frustrate his opponents as well as a defense mechanism when things start to go wrong - both in his "professional" as well as personal life. That sarcasm and humour, the quintessential traits that sets Spiderman apart from the rest of the comic universe is completely lacking in the movie versions - all three of them. And that tarnishes the character quite a bit. But to be completely honest, its just as well. Considering the acting abilities (or lack of it thereof) of Toby Maguire, one must understand that there is no way that he can carry of a "funny" Spiderman.
Anyways, that apart, I went into the movie with a lot of expectations. I even believed that I will go back and watch it in a day or two at the local IMAX theater, simply, to see the obvious, awesome graphics. Yes, that's right obvious! In a world where CGI has progressed to being indistinguishable from reality, one can see what is real and what isn't in this movie. Sometimes the graphics are tardy and overdone. The action sequences are too fast and all over the place for ordinary humans to follow, make sense, or even be in awe. Things rush by so fast that one can easily get bored. Hey, if I can't follow what's going on with the fast blurry stuff zig-zagging on screen, then I might as well concentrate on the pop-corn at hand and the pretty girl sitting next to me.
And to think that they spent close to a half a billion dollars on this movie! Most expensive movie on the planet and all of it down the drain. Well if they spent even a small fraction of that money and expensive graphics to fix Tobey Maguire's complete lack of talent at emoting, then well, this movie would have been ten times as good. Let's get this straight - the only expression he can put on is one of a dopey, goofy character. Anything more complicated seems to be well out of his bag of tricks. By the way, there are two attributes that he should never attempt and he seems to overdose on them in this movie - one is trying to be emotional/sad while the other is trying to be "cool"/suave. And not surprisingly, he fails miserably on both counts.
We see a sad Peter Parker on two occasions : first, when Mary Jane claims to break up with him and again when his friend Harry Osborne has been critically injured. On both occasions he is in tears and let me warn you - it is not a pretty sight. Its like watching something horrible but being unable to turn your eyes away. In fact the audience was gasping in horror at the pathetic exhibition of emotion from Tobey Maguire.
The other disturbing aspect of the movie is when Venom takes over Peter Parker/Spiderman. Venom, an alien parasite, is supposed to bring out the worst characteristics in its host with the dark side taking over the host's personality. In Peter Parker it is supposed to make him more angry, more of a womaniser, more deadly, more powerful, less moral, etc. Well the problem is that in this movie, the character of Peter Parker is played by Tobey Maguire and angry, immoral and suave he is not. He is supposed to walk with an air about himself, make random passes at women, dress in a more dark, more stylish way, wear his hair differently and cut the rug in a mean way with some stylish dance moves at a jazz club. To be very polite, Tobey Maguire is not a John Travolta or a Patrick Swayze. He completely lacks the panache required to exhibit a "dark side" and it comes off as being extremely funny and comical. Unfortunately that effect was not intentional.
Topher Grace (of "The 70s show" fame) plays his rival for a job at the Daily Bugle and subsequently becomes infected by Venom. Suffice to say that acting was never his strong point. He seems to be just another Tobey Maguire - able to play the dorky goof-off in the sitcom but not quite making the cut for the big screen especially in action flicks. Well, at least he is better at humour that Tobey Maguire. Hmmm...maybe Topher Grace as Spiderman would have been an interesting experiment - at least he can carry off that sarcasm part well.
Of course, my biggest gripe with any big-screen adaptation (which wasn't as evident in the first two movies) is a distinct divergence from the comic book (Spiderman universe) storyline. For example, the reason Peter Parker meets Gwen Stacy (in the books at least) is because she studies with him and then is taken in my Aunt May when her father is killed in the line of duty. Both Gwen Stacy and her father receive about 5 minutes of footage and might as well have never been in the movie to begin with - their roles are pointless as far as Spiderman 3 goes.
Of yeah, I almost forgot - the overdose of drama and soap-opera'ish storylines. This movie has just too much of it, and considering that this is an action movie that is unacceptable. In fact, if someone had walked in to the movie about 15 minutes of its start and then watched the next half an hour, he would be puzzled and would think, "did I walk into the the wrong movie? I thought this was an action blockbuster. This looks and feels like a chick flick?" This is especially relevant, because as I mentioned above, most of the actors in the movie fell flat while trying to carry off the serious "acting" stuff that they're supposed to do when they are in front of a camera.
One other big problem with this movie - the direction and screenplay. There is no flow between the various events and scenes. A lot of unrelated and unnecessary parts made the cut. It seems like the entire package was put together in a hurry. Not hard to believe considering the enormous budget - I guess it must have been ballooning at an alarming rate and the studio must have put its foot down and forced Sam Raimi's hand to finish it in a hurry. Or, perhaps he was just bored with the entire thing. As a friend put it - maybe the actors, the director and crew were so tired of the entire thing that they decided to kill the movie franchise by doing a bad job!
Perhaps the guy who made (and markets) the Dyson vacuum cleaners might sell more of them if he changed his tagline to - "Dyson: sucks as much as Spiderman 3"!