I read some reviews before I saw Spider-Man 3, so I was ready to be disappointed. But in my opinion, the movie was just as good as the first two Spider-Man movies. Many of the critics seem to disagree, so let me tackle a few of the common criticisms I’ve read.

Note: Spoilers follow!

  • Criticism: Pacing was bad / story bogs down in the middle. I think folks are mostly objecting to the emphasis on Peter and his relationships over straight-out action. However, the Spider-Man movies (and indeed the comic books as well) have always been more about Peter and his travails than about Spider-Man and his heroics. I believe that’s why the stories appeal to so many people. This is somewhat subjective, of course, but I personally did not find that the movie bogged down.
  • Criticism: Peter behaves unbelievably / Ridiculous night club scene. Yes, these scenes were a little over the top. But it’s important to note that Peter’s coolness was only in his head. The rest of the folks in the movie thought he was insane at that point, as evidenced by the looks people gave him on the street. And his behavior was in line with his reckless quest for revenge at that point in the movie (influenced by the venom symbiote).
  • Criticism: Too many villains. With the Sandman, Venom, and the new Green Goblin, the movie did feel a little full. But each of them contributed in important ways to the movie’s themes of forgiveness and choices. The Sandman first allowed Peter to give in to his thirst for revenge, and then finally to practice forgiveness. He also showed that one can choose to change his ways and be a “good” person even after doing terrible things. The Green Goblin (AKA Harry) also showed that folks can make choices to help someone whom they have hurt. Finally, Venom showed the perils of giving in entirely to one’s “dark” impulses, and allowed Eddie Brock a final choice of being destroyed with the symbiote instead of saving himself and having to live without it.

Now that’s not to say that Spider-Man 3 should win any Oscars. But it’s a good fun summer blockbuster, in line with the previous two installments in the series.