About time I tackled this blockbuster, after seeing it last night, hearing from one of its creators earlier in the week and reading the feature in 3D World 92 - here is my take on Spiderman 3.
First up my feel is that as a movie it doesnt succeed as well as the first two in a few areas. The introduction of Venom and Sandman while duplicating Spidey and keeping Eddie's Goblin around made for just too many supers (plus they added other characters like Gwen). They basically fell into the same trap that the Batman movies did, having to develop multiple plots and characters and then artificially intertwine them to make a whole story. The first Batman movie (classic as it is) had a single villain, then they got greedy. In Spiderman 3, this leaves each new character or idea unfilfilled in comparison to the first 2 movies where these plots could evolve much more naturally. If they cut out one of these major characters altogether it would have been a simple and effective way to make achieve alot of this. If we lost Sandman then we could have had more about the symbiote, the science, its effect, the CDC, the evolution of venom, etc etc - certainly plenty enough stuff to flesh out a movie. The same applies if we just had Sandman, we could have explored this emotional character in context with the emotional threads of Peter, Mary Jane, Eddie, Gwen and co, plus his 'origin' could have played a role (is he stable, is he dangerous to his daughter, can this transformation help her, etc etc).
Apart from this it is still an amazing experience where we get some memorable moments, the scene in the jazz bar is one of these, the crane rescue sequence is one of my favourites, pitting spidey against the natural chaos of the city.
Well there is no doubt that it is an incredible achievement for CG - stunning scenes throughout the movie, where the effects work that would be amazing in other films, are pushed to the background here by some standouts. The $250milliom budget goes a long way introducing effects that are simply beautiful, like the sand. The sand, the sand, the sand - simply gorgeous. The new code (is it really 10 man years worth) that drives the sand in so many ways is a great achievement. In the side-by-side shots of real sand vs BG you cant tell and the CG sand can do so much more. The animation of the sandman and his sandy physique really makes him feel like a man of sand. There are many many more CG elements in the film just waiting to be drooled over, from the flight/swing sequences, the goo, the venom transformations, the web etc etc etc.
So for me it is still a great addition to the Spidey movies delivering a bewildering array of new CG work. Though I think the movie would have been far better with a simpler cast and more focus - it still works.
[dev images from http://www.firstshowing.net/2007/03/07/incredible-art-of-spider-man-3-photos-of-venom-and-sandman/]