Welcome to the JOE-DOWN, a back-and-forth movie review blog by two snarky newspapermen named Joe from Minnesota, Joe Froemming and Joe Brown. We will take turns selecting a movie — any movie we want — and review it here. For this installment, Froemming picked “Spider-Man 3.”
The Movie: “Spider-Man 3”
Starring: Tobey Maguire, Kirsten Dunst, Topher Grace
Director: Sam Raimi
Plot Summary: (From IMDB) A strange black entity from another world bonds with Peter Parker and causes inner turmoil as he contends with new villains, temptations, and revenge.
Rotten Tomatoes Rating: 63 percent
Froemming: In 2007, the mighty had fallen.
Yes, at the start of the early aughts, there was a powerhouse franchise, helmed by “Evil Dead” creator Sam Raimi, for Marvel. Before their cinematic universe, before Disney and Marvel teamed up like Shawn Michaels and Marty Jannetty to conquer the world, there was Sony’s “Spider-Man” franchise. The first one was a breath of fresh air after the questionable “Batman” movies of the 1990s, the second one combined fun and seriousness that topped what the “X-Men” movies were doing. Our friendly neighborhood Spider-Man could do no wrong.
Until he did.
I had never seen “Spider-Man 3” before this. I really enjoyed the first two, but by 2007, I was in college and going to movies was not a thing I did a lot of. So this one passed me by like so many of the era. So imagine my surprise when I sat down with a bag of Doritos to turn my mind off for two hours and found myself watching Peter Parker trying to become a member of Good Charlotte, Mary Jane becoming a bad stereotype of a girlfriend and seeing James Franco phone-in a performance so bad, I hoped Spider-Man would kill Harry Osborn so I wouldn’t have to see that train wreck anymore.
For the first time, in a long time, I was literally seething watching a movie, hoping it would end and checking my watch to count down the time. This…this was painful to watch for me.
Brown, as I doctor some photos to get into a newspaper, and then blame you for me being caught, why don’t you give us your first thoughts?
Brown: This was painful to revisit.
So Spider-Man was my favorite superhero growing up. I always loved the story of the nerd-turned-hero fighting the likes of the Green Goblin, The Lizard, Doctor Octopus and so on. I remember being a ‘90s kid sucked in by that “Spider-Man” cartoon and awesomely terrible theme song.
So when the first “Spider-Man” movie came out, I was jazzed. And it lived up to expectations for me. The second one was fantastic, in large part to Alfred Molina’s Doc Ock.
Then this movie happened.
Even worse, I remember thinking this one was a disappointment. And watching it now… my God, nothing holds up. The Andrew Garfield movies that everyone belittles is way better than this.
And they screwed up Venom. Assholes.
So while I sit down to listen to a soft-voiced Broadway singing performance, I’ll let you kick things off, Froemming.
Froemming: Let me add before we go on that this movie is the reason I will not see a non-Disney “Spider-Man” movie. Sorry, Tom Holland, you were good for a while.
Brown: Well, you’re missing out. And that means no “Into the Spider-Verse,” so your loss.
Froemming: Am I?
Anyway, we get the credits which play like a greatest hits of the other two movies, and I started getting flashbacks of all those “Rocky” movies we watched.
So we find Peter Parker in college, where he is as awkward as ever, only in this movie it is less charming because Tobey Maguire is more toward his late 20s than his early, so his “awkward teen phase” comes off as “stuck in arrested development.”
Brown: Even after this movie, I will stick to my guns on this: Tobey Maguire is a perfect Peter Parker and a crappy Spider-Man. Andrew Garfield is a crappy Peter Parker and a perfect Spider-Man. Tom Holland is the one that can pull off both convincingly.
Froemming: You know how depressing it sounds when we talk about three different Spider-Men within a 20-year span. Hell, even for his more questionable takes, at least Hugh Jackman was Wolverine for that timespan. I mean, two reboots within a decade? Get it together, Sony.
So we meet Gwen Stacy, because we need to cram everything into this dog (REDACTED) movie. She is Peter’s lab partner, and has the personality of wet paint. Well, so does Peter Parker, Mary Jane, Harry Osborn and Eddie Brock in this. Because this movie is almost as bad a third installment as “Godfather III.”
Then we see Mary Jane singing at some concert thing. I dunno, sure, and she kinda sucks at it.
Brown: It’s supposed to be Broadway, I think. But it looks so off-Broadway that it may as well be in Branson, Missouri, which is Las Vegas if it were run by Ned Flanders.
Froemming: It is underwhelming. And Peter is there, as well as Harry who is all pissed off that his best friend murdered his father, who was a homicidal maniac. But since he is friends with Mary Jane, he shows up anyway. And gets her nicer flowers than broke-ass Peter, who works as a freelance photographer, which even in 2007 was unbelievable.
I hated this movie so much. At this point, I did not care for anything. Tobey Maguire was so grating to me in this. Even this early in the film. I think it was because he drove a moped, doubling down on his nerdiness.
Brown: He’s a broke college kid who can’t capitalize on all the bootleg Spider-Man merchandise in New York City. I get it.
Froemming: Tony Stark just came out as Iron Man. Then raked in the money. Peter Parker is an idiot.
Brown: Tony Stark is also a billionaire who can summon armies of his armor to attack his enemies. Peter Parker doesn’t have that ability because he’s some exurb schmuck from Queens.
Brown: So it dawned on me in this viewing that you could legit replace James Franco with Glenn Howerton as Dennis Reynolds and you’d get the same performance. Hell, Howerton would have tried. Also, in a theater that small, why would you possibly need binoculars to watch the performance, Harry?
Froemming: Maybe he has astigmatism, you jerk.
Brown: So what a superhero do with his lady friend after her first Broadway performance? Why, go to a park, construct a spider web and go make out.
Umm, I know it’s late at night but someone is going to see this and piece together that the dude from “Pleasantville” is the friendly neighborhood Spider-Man.
Also, for someone who has spider senses and is in a quiet park, the power of horniness (??) prevents Peter and Mary Jane from hearing a meteor crash close to them.
And out comes a living black ooze we later find out as the symbiote. And for a brief moment, my childhood excitement came out. Then I remembered that Venom is played by a trying-but-woefully-miscast Topher Grace and my inner child was crushed by my adult cynicism.
Froemming: OK, so here are my notes from this scene:
I hate this movie
Comet falls to earth like a turd hitting a toilet
It is Venom
Venom is a crawling turd
And as to Topher Grace, and how obnoxious he was and the fact he had frosted (REDACTED) tips in this, here is my rebuttal to all that:
Brown: I can’t fault him for trying but I just think he was doomed to fail in that role. We’ll get to that later.
After a night of making out on a spider web, which does not sound sexy, Peter comes to his Aunt May and says that he wants to marry Mary Jane. And she gives her blessing but says that a husband must put his wife before all else.
So I’ve never been married. Hell, I haven’t held down a steady relationship in years. But why is Peter getting a blessing from his aunt? Isn’t he supposed to get the blessing from her family?
Froemming: You wouldn’t see nonsense like this from Marisa Tomei’s Aunt May. Just saying.
Yeah, so she gives Peter the ring Uncle Ben gave her, and tells a story about how they were young and not really sure about getting married, but did so anyway because kids need bad advice from adults.
And in a moment where I completely agree with a villain, Peter is attacked by New Goblin as he is riding his moped like a putz. When I am actively cheering on the antagonist because our hero is so (REDACTED) lame he is on the level of Gil Gunderson from “The Simpsons,” you know your movie is in trouble.
Brown: This action sequence is the moment where I went “Oh no. These effects are (REDACTED) terrible.” Tobey Maguire fighting in a suit and tie in the air looks SOOOO much more fake than seeing every fight with a (REDACTED) computer-generated Spider-Man.
I like this fight in practice because the whole bit with the ring falling out of his hand is kind of cool. But at 33, I can’t get over how a movie with a quarter-BILLION dollar budget had action scenes that looked like garbage.
Also, say what you will about Peter’s moped, snowboard Goblin Harry Osborn is just as bad. It made me feel less bad for the guy when he nearly decapitates himself via spider web strand that left him with a crippling case
of plot convenience short-term memory loss.
Froemming: One, that is a hoverboard, and “Back to the Future Part II” made those awesome.
Brown: Michael J. Fox made hoverboards cool. A phoning-it-in James Franco made hoverboards (REDACTED) lame.
Froemming: Two, Harry shouldn’t have memory loss, he should be dead. Ten times over, Harry Osborn should be no more, he should cease to be. The amount of traumatic brain injury he sustains in this fight would have killed him. Then, later when Emo-Parker™ flings a (REDACTED) bomb at him, exploding by his head, he should have died there too. I get suspension of belief in these movies, but come on, this guy should be dead a minute into this fight.
Brown: Meanwhile, let’s meet our second of three (REDACTED) bad guys in this movie in Flint Marko.
Froemming: Oh yeah, the guy from “Wings” who isn’t Tony Shalhoub is in this.
Brown: So, Marko escapes prison and goes to see his sick daughter. After being told to (REDACTED) off by the kid’s mom, Marko goes back to robbin’!
But while being pursued by police, Marko falls into a sandpit with a thingamabob (technical term) that fuses the sand with his DNA or something. And now he’s The Sandman. He now has the power to make your swim trunks uncomfortable and to create sandstorms.
Froemming: So the Amazon X-Ray feature told me during this that they wanted a villain we sympathize with, while we lose sympathy for our hero. And that they threw in Venom because the kids liked the character.
This is why we can’t have nice things. Start with a good premise and then crap all over it to sell action figures.
Brown: Thomas Haden Church is really good in this. And it’s wasted over such pandering (REDACTED). Poor guy.
Froemming: Church is really good in almost everything I have seen him in. I felt embarrassed for him watching this movie.
So now he is Sandman or whatever, with the power to slightly irritate you because it is sand, not solid rock or anything, so I don’t understand why his punches have such impact and then less impact when he is wet, which would be the one time he is so solid it would matter.
I am overthinking a movie the creators put very little thought in. And that upsets me.
Now let’s go to Peter Parker being more robot than human, and not being able to empathize with his girlfriend.
See, Mary Jane got terrible reviews for her lousy performance, and all Peter talks about is how tough it is dealing with bad press as Spider-Man. Peter, she is trying to use her talents in an artform she respects to build up her career. You Gumped your way into magic powers by being bitten by a spider that was radioactive, and now run around in weird underwear punching cartoonishly silly bad guys. It is not the same thing at all.
Brown: Plus, they’re insulting Mary Jane Watson, not the character she’s playing on stage. Peter’s well-meaning-but-useless pep talk fails because Peter Parker is not being criticized, it’s Spider-Man, his “character.” He’s all “Don’t take it personal.” Hey asshole, they’re calling her out by name, this (REDACTED) is personal.
Froemming: Peter Parker is what C-3PO would be like as a human.
Brown: Oh, so let’s get to our intro to Eddie Brock.
So Gwen is modeling in a high-rise building since apparently her career path is eye candy scientist so… Mythbuster? Hell if I know.
Anyways, a crane loses control because sparks or something and the building is getting smashed up.
As Police Captain Stacy (Gwen’s dad) looks on, here goes Eddie Brock to take photos with his cocky attitude and bleached highlights.
It’s here where I found out that Eddie Brock sucks as a photographer.
As someone who works with cameras pretty much every day, to see a guy with a lens that isn’t big enough and that is using an 8 f-stop and 1/50 shutter speed in broad (REDACTED) daylight is someone who clearly doesn’t know what the blue hell he’s doing.
Froemming: Brown, that is because he is a …
Brown: The JOE-DOWN, where original jokes never exist.
Froemming: You’re just realizing that now?
Well, Spider-Man saves Gwen, and Eddie goes to the newspaper to sell his photos of our hero. He also wants to be a full-time employee, which is funny since they got that cheap stringer Parker doing that, so why add to their budget? Eddie, you’re an idiot.
Brown: Was this pre-recession? Did newspapers still have some money in the coffers in 2007?
Well, after saving Gwen, he also has a robbery to stop as Marko hits an armored car. After a tussle with Spider-Man, Marko gets away via sandstorm.
And because this movie is Joel Schumacher levels of the terrible type of camp, we need to have a big key to the city celebration for Spider-Man, complete with pep band playing the Spider-Man theme song and an upside-down kiss that rightfully infuriates Mary Jane. Meanwhile, dopey Harry is chomping on cotton candy like a dweeb.
Froemming: You know, it is not a Sam Raimi movie until the Chin himself shows up, so let’s get to Bruce Campbell as — checks notes — the snooty French maitre d.
(REDACTED) this movie.
So Peter wants to pop the question over dinner, and have Ash Williams put the ring in the champagne flute. But because he is apparently a robot who cannot compute emotions, he doesn’t understand why Mary Jane is mad at him for not only making out with Gwen, but recreating their iconic kiss in front of thousands.
I don’t blame her, Peter. The hell were you thinking. This is beyond being socially awkward, you’re just plain stupid.
Brown: This is pretty much how any marriage proposal would go between the two.
Also, when Mary Jane and Peter are having dinner, Stacy butts in and asks Peter to send a photo of Spider-Man kissing her for her portfolio. What (REDACTED) photo are you using this for? Aren’t you a science whiz? As for a modeling career, what good does a candid of you kissing a dude in tights qualify as a modeling photo?
*Rubs temples* the characters in this movie are so (REDACTED) infuriating.
Froemming: It is truly infuriating seeing this Gwen Stacy after seeing the well-rounded, interesting one in “Into The Spider-Verse.”
Brown: Hell, Emma Stone did a fine job as Gwen Stacy in the “Amazing Spider-Man” movies.
So his girl hates him right now. There’s a dude after his photography job. He lives in a crappy apartment that (somehow) has a patio. With all this negativity around him, I thought Peter was going to use his web shooter to make a noose and Brooks himself in his apartment.
Alas, that’s not the case. Instead, the symbiote is attracted to Peter and latches onto him.
For as much grief as I can give this movie, seeing the black Spider-Man suit will always make me giggle in delight. Sorry not sorry for being a fanboy.
Froemming: It certainly is cool to see Spider-Man in that kickass black suit. But we pay dearly for that when we have to deal with Emo-Parker™ strutting around with his hair combed down. I have rarely hated a human being in my life as much as I hated Tobey Macguire in those moments.
Brown: Well, it takes a couple times for him to go Emo-Parker™, so let’s fast-forward a little bit.
- Peter finds where Marko is hiding and goes into the sewers to kick the (REDACTED) out of him.
- While on his way, Eddie runs into Spider-Man and our hero smashes his camera into several pieces. I don’t feel like this matters because Eddie’s photos would be garbage because I’m sure he doesn’t understand how a light meter works. To this point, Eddie has a point-and-shoot on standby and there’s no way he gets a good photo in the middle of the night with that.
- Spider-Man (REDACTED) puts Marko’s face against a train and grinds away his sand head. Honestly, that’s pretty metal.
- Spider-Man breaks open a pipe, turning the dude into mud and seemingly leaving him for dead.
After this happens, a sad Mary Jane calls up Harry because she’s lonely and *deep sigh* makes omelettes and does The Twist (complete with Chubby Checker).
Honestly, there’s some justification for Emo-Parker™. This entire scene makes no (REDACTED) sense. I think it infuriates me more than Emo-Parker™.
Also, Harry screws up an omelette. That’s like, Eggs 101, Woodhouse.
Froemming: What 20-something in the mid-aughts wasn’t ga-ga over the beats of Chubby Checker, a man who’s biggest hit was merely five-decades prior to all this.
Brown: Hey now, don’t forget Chubby Checker’s ‘80s resurgence thanks to the Fat Boys.
Froemming: Well, Harry must have the hand-powers of John Travolta in “Face/Off,” because as soon as he touches the reflection of his face in the mirror, all his memories come flooding back. Because that is how things work I guess.
And so he uses his snowboard thing to fly ahead of MJ, then sneak into her home, to blackmail her into dumping Peter. Not much of a blackmail when Peter was making out with Gwen and MJ seemed pretty adamant that she was pissed about all that.
Also, Peter finds out Sandman killed his uncle in an “oopsie” by the NYPD. Man, this is a terrible movie.
So MJ dumps Peter, who tries to emote, but looks like he is cry-sneezing or something. This causes him to go full-on Emo-Parker™ and embrace the black goo stuff that he had a scientist look at and tell him it’s pretty dangerous.
When did Peter Parker become such an idiot? I don’t feel like he was this stupid in the other two movies.
Brown: Even Bone Saw wouldn’t be able to save this movie.
As for the breakup… my GOD. Look, I know MJ broke things off under duress but Peter, using the engagement ring as your nuclear option? Jesus, man. Dude is absolutely going to Brooks himself.
Froemming: Worked for Mitch McConnell.
Brown: Then Harry asks Peter out for coffee and says that as far as MJ goes, he’s Mr. Steal Your Girl and is clearly goading Peter into a confrontation.
Sporting the black suit, Peter fights Harry and it concludes with Harry taking a pumpkin bomb to the face.
Nevermind the insensitivity of that part when this movie came out while Americans were getting blown up in the Middle East, let’s not forget that according to this lore, being black makes Spider-Man homicidal.
This movie isn’t woke.
Sorry, but sometimes being “woke” sounds like being an insufferable ass.
So Harry somehow survives a bomb IN THE FACE with only a few scars and whatnot.
Brown: I thought this would be the moment when Harry runs for Gotham DA and flips a coin to decide peoples’ fates.
Froemming: I believe in Harry Osborn.
And Peter begins strutting around Manhattan like he is Tony Manero, only somehow more obnoxious than Travolta. Though, while high on the rage that is the Venom suit, he does stand up to Eddie Brock, who has sold a fake photo of Spider-Man to the Daily Bugle, and gets his ass fired.
The best part is Eddie blames Peter for his bad life choices. No, Eddie, Peter didn’t get you fired. This was 2007, Google existed. That shot of Spider-Man would have been called out pretty quickly.
Brown: I imagine this was the part where you and I stood up and applauded. Eddie, plagiarism is, like, the first thing you’re told NOT to do in J-school. No sympathy from me, homie.
And yeah, this whole part is dumb. I’ll just let the imagery speak for itself.
Where are the adults on set that tell Sam Raimi that this is incredibly stupid? Was this film crew scared of Sam Raimi like the minions are scared of the boss in the Trump administration? Were they legit intimidated by the guy who made “Evil Dead?”
Also, the way Peter has Elizabeth Banks fawning over him in that sequence, I think that’s what turned her into the crazy woman in “The 40-Year-Old Virgin.”
This all culminates in Peter taking Gwen out on a date to a jazz club that Mary Jane is now working at. And, dude goes and upstages his ex like he’s Ron Burgundy playing jazz flute. And Peter hits her and for the third time in my notes, this is where I wrote “Oh, he feels real guilty there. I think he’s going to Brooks himself.”
Nope. It doesn’t happen. And I’m uncomfortable that I keep suggesting my favorite superhero hang himself.
*Long sigh* (REDACTED) you, movie.
Froemming: OK, so two things. One, MJ just happened to find a place looking for both a waitress and a singer?
Brown: Seriously, when did New York City become the set for “Dick Tracy?”
Froemming: Two, this movie straight up ripped off “Anchorman’s” jazz flute scene. If I were Adama McKay and WIll Fereill, I’d be pissed.
At least Gwen has the decency to dump him right there and then. I mean, this whole part of the movie had me just angry. Seething with rage, I wanted to just stop this movie at this part.
Also, in the scuffle with security, Peter SMACKS MJ IN THE FACE!
Wow, not even Joel Schumacher crapped over Batman like this movie takes a giant dump all over Spider-Man.
So, let’s get some (REDACTED) up religious overtones when Peter goes to a church to peel this symbiote from his body, while Eddie prays to Jesus to murder Peter Parker.
Eddie Brock, everyone, the game changer in 2007 that lead to today’s evangelical Republicans.
Brown: How does Eddie figure out it’s Peter in the bell tower? That’s a tall tower and he does not have the eyesight of an eagle. Hell, I could have bought him figuring it out if Eddie had his camera. Alas, Spider-Man crushed that camera like his dreams.
At least they kept with the comic in that the symbiote is hurt by sound waves. The symbiote attaches to Eddie and becomes the Venom that everyone is bummed out about.
Honestly, this Venom is OK until you’re reminded that it’s Topher Grace under the symbiote. Again, the character could work in this movie but it’s just really, really miscast.
Froemming: Should have been Kurtwood Smith. At least he can be menacing.
Also, did Peter walk home from that church naked? It looked like he didn’t have any clothes on underneath the Venom outfit, so I am going to assume he walked home, in NYC, butt naked.
Have we forgotten about Sandman? No, the movie did because this was one long stretch without what was supposed to be our main antagonist. So once we get Venom, his plan is to join forces with a villain with laughable powers, such as sand, which only has one true nemesis: Anakin Skywalker.
Brown: How awesome would it be if Marko used his sand power to pull a Dale Gribble?
Froemming: Venom seems to have all of Spider-Man’s powers, plus whatever alien powers it has, so what does he need Sandman for?
Brown: This is the biggest problem with “Spider-Man 3”: It’s too busy.
You have a movie revolved around The Sandman, fine. You wanna revolve it around Harry’s revenge as the new Green Goblin, OK. You want Venom? That’ll work.
But they try to do all three and it makes for such a colossal, unwatchable mess. Life lesson for everyone: make one thing good instead of three sub-par things.
Brown: Because Mary Jane’s two emotions are whine and be in peril, she’s been kidnapped by Eddie and is now hanging over a construction site because this movie LOVES its cliches. I get that Raimi was trying to keep in the spirit of the comic books, but this is too Schumacher for my liking.
Froemming: Even Schumacher would tell him to dial it back a notch.
So Venom and Sandman have also put a note to Spider-Man made of Venom’s spider-goo? How did they get that font? This was so stupid.
Brown: I’m sure Eddie and Marko didn’t have the Adobe Creative Cloud so they were limited in available fonts.
Froemming: Peter, now realizing how embarrassing he was in his emo phase, goes to Harry’s to ask for help. It is here Harry shows what Peter did: Scarred the side of his face with a bomb he threw at Peter.
So, nobody understands life lessons here? Do we need J. Walter Weatherman to teach them to the characters?
Brown: Harry rightfully blows off Peter until he gets a talk from the Osborn family butler, Bernard.
And Bernard, you’re in all three Raimi “Spider-Man” movies and Bernard’s performance is akin to a master class of bad acting akin to anything Tommy Wiseau did. I think Bernard’s line reads is what lead James Franco to “The Room” and eventually, “The Disaster Artist.”
So, as Spider-Man is getting whaled on by Venom and Sandman, Harry comes to the rescue as a good Green Goblin…
Sure, whatever movie. Whatever gets us done with this review quicker.
Froemming: The way Harry gets knocked around in the fight between them and Sandman and Venom, he should have CTE by the end of all of this beyond his other wounds. This fight scene is a CGI mess. Just… a mess. It is not fun, it is not entertaining, it is just there like that box of baking soda in every refrigerator.
And then Harry gets a lethal blow. MJ comes to his aid.
Spider-Man turns pipes into a giant xylophone, causing Venom to recoil. Then he blows up Eddie and Venom with a bomb.
Spider-Man sure enjoys his homicide in these movies.
Then Sandman tells his sob story and explains what happened the night he shot Uncle Ben dead on the mean streets of New York City. Peter forgives him?
Then Sandman just sort of turns to dust and vanishes, causing me to wonder if Thanos snapped his fingers.
Brown: Excuse me, sir! Flint Marko turns into a sandstorm.
And with Harry dead, MJ and Peter will continue their crippling co-dependent relationship.
Froemming: You think they stopped by Gilley’s after this and became infatuated with a mechanical bull?
Brown: “Urban Cowboy” was a better love story than this.
You happy, Sam Raimi? You happy you broke my brain this (REDACTED) much that I’m (REDACTED) over my favorite (REDACTED) comic book character?! (REDACTED)!
No being witty. Let’s just go to recommendations.
WOULD YOU RECOMMEND?
Froemming: Nope I have no idea what went wrong making this, but everything somehow went wrong. It is almost breathtakingly bad.