Everyone I've spoken to that has sat through Spider-Man 3 hasn't liked it. Coworkers, two friends living overseas and family- they all agree that it was too goofy and overstuffed with characters and subplots to be a worthy successor to the previous installments in the franchise.
While I'll agree that the movie could have been better, unlike them I wouldn't go so far as to say it outright sucked. In fact, I think the building blocks were there for what could have been one of the finest superhero movies ever made. But even at over two hours, the movie was too cluttered and rushed for its own good.
Instead of another review, here's some thoughts on how I would have slapped this thing together, using the same general plotline. [IF YOU HAVEN'T SEEN THE MOVIE, DON'T READ THIS. MAJOR SPOILERS AHEAD.]
The film's biggest problem is that there's enough material here for two films. So....why not do two films? While the concept of back-to-back sequels didn't bode so well for the Matrix franchise, a third Pirates of Caribbean will probably rake in another $400+ million domestic this summer. Time to play Monday morning Hollywood director (or, in this case, Tuesday night).
So the first 30 minutes of *my* Spider-Man 3 would be much like the real deal. For the first time in his life, things are going well for Peter Parker. Manhattan finally respects his alter ego, he's scored the woman of his dreams and he's finally figured out how to juggle his personal life, his studies, and his two jobs as a crime-fighter and a cameraman. Unfortunately, there's a new villain in town and he's unstoppable. There's nothing Spider-Man can throw at Sandman, an invincible man made of... sand . Meanwhile, there's a new photographer down at the Daily Bugle named Eddie Brock and he's eager to land the staff position Parker's been eyeing for years. Plus, Spidey's pal Harry has gone off the deep end and is following him around town launching bombs at his head when he's off the clock. To top it all off, Mary Jane's pissed at him for a dunderheaded publicity photo/PR stunt. It's all too much for one arachnid/human hybrid to deal with.
Enter, the space goo. Instead of landing right next to Peter Parker, it crashes down somewhere else in New York. Its weird powers and motivations are more clearly developed. The goo feeds off rage and vengeful feelings. The first thing it adheres to: something ridiculous, like an alley cat. We get a quick scene of a Venom Kitty kicking major ass on the city's pooch population. Then the goo jumps ship onto a petty thug that Spider-Man later sends packing to prison. Once the goo gets a load of Peter and his troubles, it follows him home.
Rather than have Peter go from normal to crazed vigilante in the space of 2.5 seconds, his addiction to it should grow more slowly. Better yet, it might be nice to know what the new black suit/space goo actually does for him, which isn't revealed all that well in the actual movie. The goo helps him get results, but Peter becomes steadily more aggressive and more of a prick instead of abruptly transforming during a super-cheesy montage set to the Saturday Night Fever soundtrack. The city turns against him and J. Jonah Jameson at the Bugle has a field day lambasting this new brutal Spidey for infringing on due process.
Much like the movie, evil Spider-Man would hunt down and kill Sandman. Instead of defeating him with a blast of water (weak), I would go for something a little more brutal. Like, maybe having Spidey turn him to glass with a flame thrower or a broken gas line before smashing him to pieces with his fist.
Afterwards, Peter returns home and finds he can't get the suit off. It's stuck to him but he's not really all that inclined to get rid of it. Once he finds out Mary Jane has been messing around with Harry, he becomes unable to control himself and in a fit of rage he rushes over to Harry's apartment, attempts to kill him but knocks him into a coma instead. Then he heads over to Mary Jane's gig at a jazz club, embarrasses her with a new girlfriend and smahes the place up.
Cut to Spidey on top of the bell tower. His life is a mess and he's become a monster. Everybody hates him. Roll the credits.
Then, six months later or next summer, we get part 4. The city now lives in fear of Spider-Man and he can't get Mary Jane to return his calls. He's become a super vigilante, beating the crap out of anyone for the slightest of offenses. The cops can't do anything, the National Guard can't stop him, the president is one step away from putting in a call to the Incredible Hulk and Jameson has just purchased a new summer home with profits off papers covering the ongoing nightmare.
Finally, Mary Jane tracks him down and reveals that Harry is still alive but horribly disfigured. Out of guilt, Peter vows to tear off the suit. Desperate for a another host, it's attracted to Brock, who's busy drowning his sorrows after getting fired for liable. He becomes Venom.
Peter does what he can to patch things up with Mary Jane and Harry and hurries to earn back Spidey's reputation. Unfortunately, Jameson isn't about to give up his media blitz and does everything he can to keep the superhero's rep tarnished. Meanwhile, Sandman, who has spent these past few weeks laying around in a sewer, manages to pull himself back together.
Sandman and Venom, both unstoppable, terrorize Manhattan. Sandman, who originally set out to save his daughter's life with stolen funds, gets caught up in the madness while Venom's just happy to maliciously cause as much damage as he can. Both hate Spider-Man and set out to destroy him for good.
Now Spider-Man's up against two foes and he doesn't have any magical space goo to help him out. Mary Jane is kidnapped and the big, climatic finale places her in a cab 50 stories over Manhattan's streets, just like in the movie. But this time, the big rumble doesn't all take place on a construction site (*yawn*). It encompasses all of Manhattan as Spider-Man is flung through buildings and locals all over town. Billions of dollars worth of property damage later, a redeemed Harry shows up to subdue Sandman, leaving Spidey with enough time to get into a huge fistfight with Venom inside the Statue of Liberty. Spidey's on the ropes but manages to conquer Venom using soundwaves and Lady Liberty's acoustics. He offers Brock/Venom one last shot at redemption but he decides to go out in a blaze of glory.
Harry lives. Sandman and Spidey come to a truce, since he's a sympathetic villain but Peter never forgives him for killing his uncle. Sandman disappears, promising to change his evil ways. Instead of a brief, lame scene in the jazz club to wrap everything together, we cut to Spider-Man triumphantly swinging around NYC only to be interrupted by a call on a cell phone. It's Mary Jane and she's pregnant with Harry's baby. Roll credits.
Most importantly, my version of Spider-Man 3 wouldn't contain any combination of the following: crying, singing or dancing.
Now that's how you do a Spider-Man movie or two, dammit.