Spider-Man 3
, Directed by Sam Raimi, 2007


Like so many other movie geeks, I saw Spider-Man 3 on opening day in the summer of 2007. I vividly remember not hating it. Sure, it was not nearly as good as Spider-Man 2, but could we seriously expect every sequel to top its predecessor? Entry three was surely on the same level as the uneven but fun first film.

I remember the toxic online reaction to the film. I remember the complaints about the too-crowded story, the shoehorning of Venom and most of all, the dance scenes. Two dance scenes. A Spider-Man movie with not one, but two dance scenes. An outrage! An outrage to end all outrages!

That's why I avoided re-watching Spider-Man 3 since that opening day. I didn't want that bitter taste in my mouth. Then I saw the Spider-Man 3 Blu-Ray for $5, sitting used and alone, abandoned and unwanted. So I picked it up and finally gave it a second spin.

And you know what? It's still not bad.

Most of the things people complain about are problems. In fact, they're major problems that threaten to cripple the film at every opportunity. Spider-Man 3 lacks any discernible structure. Many events seem random, the plotting uncoordinated and messy. There are too many villains, too many separate storylines and too many silly conveniences (the Exposition Butler still irks in a major way).

But I still don't get the hate. Spider-Man 3 is fun, breezy and silly, never taking itself seriously and delivering what it promises: a colorful, family-friendly comic book movie. Fanboy culture demands that comic book movies be dark and serious and gritty. The moment a movie about a man with spider powers decides to be a little silly, they immediately tune out. Spider-Man is not a dark character. He has no reason to ever be a dark character. At worst, Raimi can be accused of trying to stay true to the character.

At best, Spider-Man 3 is a passable superhero blockbuster, but if you look at it purely as a Sam Raimi movie and not a Spider-Man movie, it's kind of remarkable. It's a grab bag of Raimi goodness, his trademark style on full display. This is best seen in the infamous dance scenes. Raimi's goofy sense of humor, one part Three Stooges, on part late-night B-movie, is evident in all of his films. Why should he keep it out of Spider-Man? Just because it's an established property? Hell no! Let Sam Raimi make a Sam Raimi movie! If you want a superhero movie, just wait a few months. You'll be getting one. A Sam Raimi movie is a far more rare, far more valuable commodity.

He'll be missed on the series reboot.