Caution, Spoilers ensue...
So what does America think about Spider-man 3? Well to judge by the box office, they loved it, but last night I saw a film that I liked that other members of the group that was just plain awful. Several people complained that the story lacked any real impact (a statement I patently disagree with), and was simply a vehicle to move the plot through byzantine fight sequences. This is a valid point, though not one I agree with.
What did I think?
Well, I liked the more upbeat jumping off point of the film. You really feel as though this was taking place almost immediately in the aftermath of the Dr. Octopus storyline from Spider-man 2. What is not noticable at the beginning of the film is what this story is supposed to be about, though, and that kind of hurts the film. This movie is about forgiveness and acceptance of life and the trammels of fate, and the vehicles that they used for this are Flint Marko/Sandman, Eddie Brock Jr/Venom, Peter Parker/Spiderman, and Harry Osborne/New Goblin. Throughout the film these characters either do things or have done things in the past that are just plain awful. Each must struggle with his inner demons and forgive himself before asking for forgiveness from those around them. The only person who doesn't seek our or ask for redemptionn and forgiveness is Eddie Brock (he is a narcissistic sociopath and thinks that everyone has wronged him, not the other way around). The story progresses through a standard bell curve where the dramatic tension hits its high point as the hero hits his low point, and Spidey realizes that he has become a monster, no better than the man who killed his uncle.
What I liked and what I didn't like:
Thomas Hayden Church was amazing as the Sandman. He does not have a huge amount of dialog, but when he does speak it is with the power of a giant fist made of sand. They did a great job conveying the idea that Flint's raison d'etre is the salvation of his sickly daughter. My only problem with the Sandman was that it made no sense for him to team up with Venom to take on Spiderman. Sure, Spidey beat him up, but Marko had been portrayed as a genuinely good person who was trying to help his daughter in the only way he could. To go out and pick a fight seemed a bit forced.
Eddy Brock was the perfect obnoxious, self-obsessed worm (kudos for Topher Grace on the great job), and his scene at the church, where he asks God to kill Peter Parker, is brilliantly done. Many people felt that the Venom character was an afterthought, however the use of the symbiote was necessary to make Peter Parker, who is a boy scout through most of the prior two movies, do some awful things to the people he cares for.
Another pat on the back goes to James Franko for his prtrayal of angsty Harry Osborne. The whole sub-plot of the Harry-Peter-MJ triangle was great and added a great deal of depth and perspective to the characters. My only complaints about the New Goblin are: why do you have a mask if you aren't going to wear it? and Why do the writers keep killing off great characters?! The reunion of Parker and Osborne as friends was a great touch, but the fact that Harry sacrifices himself with a death that directly mirrors his father was a bit much on the symbolism front. Sheesh, we get it, Harry is not like his dad! We did not need to kill him to make that point. It is quite obvious that Harry had remote control of his glider, so why he needed to catch the bullet is beyond me.
I liked the use of Dr. Connors, and Bruce Campbell's portrayal of a snotty French maitre d' was great (then again it was Bruce Campbell, so what do you expect). Jamison seemed subdued, but there were some great bits in the newspaperman's office that will bring a smile to anyone's lips.
I hated the use of Gwen Stacey. Sorry guys, I think that Bryce Dallas Howard did a phenomenal job, but the writers really dropped the ball with her. The crane disaster shot should be afterthe key to the city sequence and after Spidey gets his black suit. When she falls off the building she should have been accidentally killed by Spiderman (preferably by him using too much strength due to the Venom symbiote and snapping her neck). Then you have some GREAT angst.
Then again, that is just my opinion...