I went out to see Spider-Man 3 last night, and even now I'm having trouble putting together my thoughts about how I felt about it.
So I'm going to break it down here. If you haven't seen it, and are adverse to spoilers, you probably don't want to read any further. Consider that your *Spoiler Alert*.
I think my main issue with the movie is the same issue I had with both parts 1 and 2; I don't buy into Tobey Maguire or Kirsten Dunst as the leads. Peter Parker is played very dry, and often looking very sad sack about everything, and Mary-Jane is supposed to be a firebrand, and even if you wanted to argue that they are allowed to recreate characters for film, I believe that the guilty look on Dunst's face makes you simply resent her for even being there at all.
Maguire (or director Sam Raimi) is missing something about Peter Parker. Pete is supposed to be the "cool loser", with his issues and fear more kept to an internal conflict rather than a glassy-eyed hard luck joe. I had always cast Nicholas Brendon (Buffy the Vampire Slayer) in my head because he was able to be a dork, look cool, and banter all the while giving a sense that he's covering up some pain inside. Tobey doesn't even try that, and it takes away from Spidey.
The rest of the cast is pretty well done. I like James Franco as Harry Osborne, and as the new Goblin, his fight scenes in the 3rd installment carried the most dramatic weight. It did of course have the benefit of a two movie buildup, but I thought it well executed and managed to both convey emotion and look cool at the same time.
The Sandman was an example of great economy, with motivations and origins wrapped up quickly so he could dive right into the action. I bought Thomas Hayden Church's acting, and most of his displays of power were classic and visually cool looking. Not so hot, for me, was the "sandstorm" flying power, and the giant sand creature-thing at the end. Too much CG, not enough reality there.
Venom was quite possibly the one that had me the most worried, in terms of how they were going to make him look. I personally would have gone for a more "liquid" look, but that's nitpick-y, and all in all, he looked good. Topher Grace as Eddie Brock was good too. He was a dick, plain and simple, and they didn't try and over do it with him. Venom was alright, and since I never really got excited about him in the comics, that's about as good as it gets.
The character of Ursula breaks my heart. I <3 her.
The CG was better this time around, and Spidey's web-swinging looked more interesting than in past films. The fights were still a little too chaotic, and they used the "shakey-cam" technique a little too often towards the end.
I'm still chewing on the plot, so maybe I'll get to that a little later on, but right now, I can say I liked it well enough, and it was pretty to look at, but it wasn't close to awesome, and it failed getting a real, sustained emotional response from me.