The Action Sequences Are Great And Come Thick And Fast (At The Expense Of Character Development)
One of the biggest criticisms levelled at Spider-Man 3 is the fact that the studio forced the director to shoehorn in way too many villains into the overarching plot. Instead of the singular focus of a sole antagonist — like its two predecessors — Raimi was strong-armed by studio executives (at the last-minute, no less) to include an extra villain in the already jam-packed storyline.
The studio insisted upon an appearance from Venom, mainly due to the character’s ardent fan following, which not only helped to get bums on seats, but also assisted in giving the feature a considerable boost to its merchandising potential. As you may’ve guessed, though, three big bads jostling for the spotlight was always going to be a tough balancing act for Raimi.
On the one hand, three villains resulted in a pic that doled out the visually arresting action to an unyieldingly satisfying clip — I mean seriously, the action sequences are some of the best in the series, despite leaning a little too heavily into CGI green screen territory. On the other hand, character development was the unfortunate sacrificial lamb that was executed in order to help grease the wheels for the unrelentingly balls-to-the-wall action. Swings and roundabouts, I guess.
Studio meddling may’ve taken some of the wind out the film’s sails, whilst disrupting its pacing and characterization, but it’s pretty amazing how the final product is still an authentically enjoyable feature nonetheless. Granted, there are a few rushed scenes (the final climactic act in particular), and a noticeable lack of breathing room for the three main antagonists makes it difficult for them to really find their footing as three-dimensional, fully fleshed out characters (except for maybe Harry Osborn, who has had the advantage of appearing as a central figure in both of the movie’s forebears).
Still, for the most part, Raimi made the convoluted script work and did a decent job at injecting just enough characterization into each of the antagonists to get the audience invested. Truth is, 156 minutes just isn’t long enough to fully flesh out the myriad of characters that were thrown into Spider-Man 3’s jam-packed runtime.