Let me start by saying I see some reasons why fan boys are upset, and some of the issues people had problems with. Yes, it packed a ton of things into it, but it made it feel more like an event. I have read comics in my life, mainly Spider-Man and Batman comics... I'm familiar with the original comics origin story of Venom and all of these characters before they hit movie screens, but I still can't understand some of the hatred and criticism that the film got. There are issues, which I'll list below, but the film has a strong emotional core with its characters that shines through here.
The dramatic elements, according to many reviewers and critics are done poorly here, but that's not the case. It's easy to feel the hurt Peter feels when MJ has to break some horrible news to him, you see his anger when he realizes Marko's connection to his murdered uncle, Ben, and the roller coaster that is Harry throughout the film even lets you sympathize with his position because you see, for the first time since the first film and done even better here, a more "innocent" side to Harry, though it doesn't last long.
Also, I did read plenty of online reviews prior to viewing and many of them gave me the feeling that the only way Peter's anger and 'dark side' is shown is through a dance number in a jazz club, which is not the case at all. You see Peter going overboard and saying and doing hurtful things all throughout the mid-section of the film, causing problems for himself and other characters and fully descending deeper and deeper into his own vengeance and anger. A lot of this part of the film is lightened with comedic elements, which is true. There is indeed a dance number, but there's a point to it and plays into a more emotionally charged scene later on. If you've read anything about tonal shifts or the film being called a "mess", I'd say don't believe it. It's done with class and maturity to make it a bit more fun, yet it doesn't take away from the more emotional and mature scenes that come prior and afterward.
Of the fight scenes, all were done well. Sandman's scenes throughout are usually the most beautiful and interesting, while Venom is done quite well too. One thing I did sorely miss was the use of the plural speech from Venom. A "We're not Brock... we are Venom!" line might have been nice. Its a minor grievance though, and all of the action scenes are done quite well, specifically the first and last.
The film is flawed, yes, but it's also quite fun. This is a small list of issues that are present throughout the film that are result of mostly lazy scriptwriting/storytelling, but didn't ruin the movie, at least for me.
Issues: - Harry's Amnesia: Amnesia always feels like lazy writing, in almost every case (except maybe Memento). In this case, it's fairly weak but its forgivable as it allows you to see a side of Harry that hasn't been seen in a long while. It opens him up to more feelings and truly allows for sympathy when things go bad for him, and particularly the end. So, to me, it was quite forgivable as I saw why they used it.
- Suit's Introduction: Yeah, the odds of the meteor crashing right next to Parker, a.k.a. Spider-Man are quite slim. The comic origin is out, of course, but perhaps tying Jameson's astronaut son from the second film by having his ship be attacked by the suit and need rescue from Spidey would have been a better way to incorporate the suit... it would have allowed for another action sequence, tie in MJ's ex-boyfriend and tied the symbiote in a little more neatly. However, perhaps such a sequence would put the budget or time limit too high.
- Butler: He mostly kept his mouth shut through the first two films, but in this one he delivers an important message to one of the characters that changes the course of the film. It's slightly forgivable because he's given a more humanized part in this film, but it's still a display of some lazy writing.
Aside from those issues, I disagreed with many of the other critiques that I've read. I don't find the comic aspects disheartening, they were done well, but from the reviews I thought it would be light on the serious and dramatic content of the films, ie, I wouldn't be emotionally invested in the characters this time around. That turned out to be false though, at least it was for me. The special effects were great, the action was great, the acting was great... but what really holds this film and makes it all feel worth it is the emotional attachment to its characters and the way it builds your feelings for them. All of these characters are flawed, some very seriously, but you care about what happens to them all and brings the first two films full-circle in terms of pretty much everything. It wraps up what's been done in the previous two and does some of those things even better.