There must be some sort of curse out there that means third instalments of superhero movies are destined to disappoint.

Or at the very best, be inferior to their predecessors. If anyone can name one, I’ll quite happily sit down and stop whinging about it. But let’s look at the evidence first.

Superman 3 – rubbish.

Batman Forever – compared to the first two, it’s stupid.

X-Men 3 – a disengaging and emotionless mess.

And finally, Spider-man 3 – while it may have it’s defenders, it’s a convoluted dog’s dinner of a film.

Simply put, there is too much going on and it’s a crying shame that after two enjoyable flicks the Raimi series had to go out on a whimper like this.

I’m sure that somewhere under the muddled proceedings there’s a good film in there. Visually the film is a treat and some questionable scenes aside, the performances are generally solid too. The problem is that script tries to cram in too much and as a result you just don’t give a monkeys.

I’ll try my best to sum up the plot here, but the chances are I’ll miss something.

The film picks up a few months after the events of Spider-man 2. Peter Parker is still with Mary Jane, Harry Osborne still has the hump and follows in his father’s footsteps by becoming New Goblin, there’s a meteorite that contains some black sticky goo (Venom, although never actually referred to in name) and a convict, Flint Marko, on the run who stumbles into a scientific experiment and transforms into sand.

There’s also something about a photographer called Eddie Brock that is after Peter Parker’s job at The Daily Bugle and comic book favourite Gwen Stacey is introduced as Parker’s science class assistant and a possible love interest, that is soon forgotten about once we are into the third act.

With all this going on, it’s no surprise that the filmmakers at one point considered splitting all this into two films and in retrospect, that would have been the wiser idea.

Thomas Hayden Church gives an interesting performance as Flint Marko, the on-the-run convict who becomes Sandman. Given a bit of backstory, it’s revealed he is just a small time thief who is only trying to raise money for his sick daughter. With the script not really giving much attention to him, Thomas Hayden Church actually does a fairly good job in conveying the desperation of the character and manages to invoke a bit of empathy for the character.  However, the efforts in tying his story into Parker’s history is a distracting stretch at best.

Easily one of the worst handled elements of Spider-man 3 is the alien symbiote, Venom. Described by Doctor Curt Connors as a parasitic organism that enhances the characteristics of it’s host, when it attaches itself to Peter Parker it turns him into a complete dick.

You’d think that exploring the dark side of Spider-man would open up some exciting possibilities, but with all the Saturday Night Fever dancing in the street and his new found ability to play jazz piano, we actually learn that Peter Parker was cooler when he was just a nerd. So with Peter Parker looking like the lost member of My Chemical Romance, it is easily the dumbest “Superhero Gone Bad” moment since Superman got drunk in a small town bar and flicked peanuts in Superman 3.

Luckily, once Parker is rid of symbiote and it attaches to Eddie Brock (thus becoming Venom), we are spared of the idiocy and treated to a visually disturbing villian. Sadly however, due to the rushed nature of the film, Venom doesn’t really get the treatment he deserves and his appearance in Spider-man 3 feels a bit like an attempt to appease the fanboys.

Watching Spider-man 3 again, I was impressed with Kirsten Dunst’s performance as Mary Jane. With Peter Parker acting like a selfish and unlikeable prick – even before he is compromised by the symbiote, the confusion and desperation in her character comes across really well and it’s a testament to Dunst’s acting abilities that she manages to do so much with what’s given to her. Her performance actually sticks out like a sore thumb, mainly because every other aspect of the film is so silly and rushed.

Another disappointment is the story arc of Harry Osborne. What was built up so well in the previous two films, turns into another dire soap opera plot. With Harry Osborne literally banging his head and suffering from amnesia, it’s like something straight out of the script of an episode of Dynasty.

Maybe I’m nitpicking, as there are some qualities to enjoy in Spider-man 3.

Bruce Campbell’s obligatory cameo as the French Maître d is his best in the trilogy and a very comical moment that has whiffs of John Cleese in a Monty Python sketch. And the scene in which Spider-man rescues Gwen Stacey from a crane disaster is as breath-taking as you’re gonna get in any superhero film. Christ, even the scene in which Peter Parker tears the symbiote off is cool and suitably dark.

But none of this can escape the fact that on the whole, it somehow just doesn’t all stick together. Sadly, the fact of the matter is that Spider-man 3 is not a patch on it’s predecessors.

It’s a strange experience watching it again, as even though the film is a mess, it does at least have the decency to tie up the loose strands. There is no need for a follow-up at the end of Spider-man 3 and it gives the characters we know and love a worthy send off

It’s just a shame that it’s tacked onto the end of a below average film.

About The Author

Colin lives in south west London. Looks like a hobbit and has been watching films ever since he saw Return of the Jedi at the age of 3. You can follow Colin on Twitter @obicolkenobi.