Settling down to life with MJ (Dunst), Peter Parker (Maguire) is enjoying the newfound praise for his alter ego Spiderman and looks set to secure a staff job at the Daily Bugle. The good life doesn't last, however, as Peter learns that escaped convict Flint Marko (Church) had something to do with the death of his uncle Ben. Before he can track him down, Marko, who needs money to help his sick daughter, is transformed into The Sandman and he and Spidey battle it out on the streets of New York. At the Bugle, rival photographer Eddie Brock (Topher Grace) threatens to steal Peter's job while MJ's acting career is over before it begins and the last thing she needs is Peter acting weird and falling for Eddie's girlfriend Gwen (Bryce Dallas Howard). With all this is going on, Harry Osborn (Franco), still obsessed with revenge, becomes the new Goblin but suffers amnesia for a while before getting it back again. Oh, and a small meteor hits earth with a black substance that attaches itself to Peter and transforms him into a darker version of himself. Spiderman 3 continues the theme of the series: asking where does Spiderman end and Peter Parker begin and vice versa, exploring the idea that the bad guys are essentially good but are corrupted by their own ambition, revenge, and the on-off relationship with MJ is still very much at the fore. However, Raimi and his writers tried to do far too much; so much in fact, the story becomes muddled as they cram a huge amount into the running time, sticking together needless sub plots with a blu-tack that wouldn't hold up the poster. Floundering around looking for a story where they didn't need to, the writers went as far as re-writing a section from the first Spiderman, seen in flashback, which might cheat real fans out of Peter's guilt over the death of his uncle. Even the humour is diluted, as Jameson's (J.K Simmons) one-liners, one of the highlights of the series, are severely trimmed back and Bruce Campbell's ongoing cameo is just a poor version of Inspector Clouseau this time around. The bad guys, one of the biggest attractions of the franchise, almost seem like an afterthought: the sporadically seen Sandman doesn't have a lot to do but hang around waiting for a fight while Venom doesn't make an appearance until very late on. Some of the creases from the previous instalments haven't been ironed out - the CGI still looks a little unbelievable while the action scenes that Raimi moves at breakneck speed could use some tweaking. Devoted, hardcore fans will be happy just to see Spidey doing his thing again, but they deserve a better film than this and there's a sinking feeling Spiderman 3 is what Batman Forever was to the Dark Knight's franchise - the end of a decent run.
Watch: Spider-Man 3
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