Ok, let's start off with a harsh truth: Spider-Man 3 wasn't very good. It may have been acceptable, decent, or passable, but it wasn't good, and after the first two Spider-Man movies, fans were expecting not only something good, but something great.
So why wasn't it very good? Why didn't it live up to the expectations of the fans from the first two films? Was it the fact that James Franco was flying around on a snowboard? Maybe. That probably played a small role. Was it the scene where Peter Parker dances around a piano bar looking like the lead singer from some local scene band that only plays house shows? Yeah, that sucked quite a bit, and was incredibly awkward to watch.
However, if you bum around any film site long enough, you'll probably discover the root of most peoples' outrage: The handling of Venom.
Geeks the world over were pissed about the way Venom looked, the way Venom acted, even the way that Venom talked. As most people would argue - it just wasn't Venom.
So the backlash came and most of it was targeted right for director Sam Raimi. Here was a guy who had delivered two fantastic Spider-Man movies and then completely bungled the third, forever tarnishing what could have been a near-perfect trilogy.
Here's the kicker though: It wasn't Sam Raimi's fault.
The thing is, Sam Raimi outright said that he didn't want to include Venom in any of his Spider-Man movies. The reasoning behind this was that he was making an homage to the Spider-Man that he grew up with in the 1960's, and really just didn't care for Venom as a character.
So, why did we end up getting a half-baked version of Venom, Spider-Man's antithesis, in Spider-Man 3 then? Because we, the fans, demanded Venom. The studio did what seemed to be the logical choice, from a financial perspective, and told Raimi that Venom was going to be in the third movie, whether or not he liked it. They did exactly what the fans wanted.
Now, before I wrap this up, I know there are probably going to be a few people who don't know a great deal about the film industry who bring up the fact that directors are the people in charge of movies. They are supposed to have final say. Well, yes, that's true. In theory, anyway.
However, if that were true in practice, why would we get DVD/Blu-Ray releases with the words 'Director's Cut' emblazoned on them?
Ever notice how the 'Director's Cut' is usually a better film?
There's a simple reason for that: Directors are in the business of making movies. Studios are in the business of making money.
So, next time you happen upon someone complaining about how badly Sam Raimi screwed up Venom (you'll probably hear it at least once if you decide to see Sony's Spider-Man reboot in the theatre), kindly let them know that Spider-Man 3 didn't suck because of Sam Raimi. Spider-Man 3 sucked despite Sam Raimi.
Your friendly neighborhood filmophile will thank you.