Director: Sam Rami
Starring: Tobey Maguire, Kirsten Dunst, James Franco
Studio: Columbia Pictures 15932
Video: 2.40:1 anamorphic/enhanced for 16:9 widescreen, color
Audio: English 5.1 Uncompressed PCM, English Dolby TrueHD 5.1, Thai DD 5.1, French, Spanish & Portuguese
Subtitles: English, English SDH, French, Spanish, Portuguese, Korean, Thai, Mandarin, Cantonese
Extras: 6 hours worth! On Disc 1 with movie: Commentaries by filmmaker and cast, Blooper, Snow Patrol Music Video, Photo galleries; On Disc 2: Grains of Sand (Building Sandman), Re-Imagining the Goblin, Covered in Black (Creating Venom), On Location in New York and Cleveland, Inside the Editing Room & Science of Sound, 3 Stunts featurettes, more…
Length: 140 minutes (feature)
We almost have a surfeit of hi-def riches here. With its often cutting-edge special effects, all three of the Spider-Man series are excellent material for Blu-ray viewing, and the uncompressed 5.1 PCM tracks show off the variety of both subtle and seat-shaking surrounding sounds. You have a choice of all three of the series – each on a separate disc, but without the six hours of extras featurettes included with the two-disc separate version of Spider-Man 3. Also the price of the set of three is more than double that of this lavish Blu-ray of the third in the series. Unusually, most of the extras are in HD but some are not. If you get the complete set perhaps you could find a rental outfit for Spider-Man 3 in order to view the extras once – which would probably be sufficient for most people.
It seems to be a rule of thumb that sequels usually don’t come up to the level of the original, especially in the fantasy/sci-fi area. Look at The Matrix, Planet of the Apes, 2001; in the case of Star Wars it’s the prequels. Yet it’s generally agreed that Spider-Man 2 was better than the original, and this third edition in the franchise comes very close, though 2 probably still holds the high spot. It picks up the story generally where things left off at the end of 2. Peter has matured a bit, is doing OK at school (where he has a cute new lab partner who makes girlfriend Mary Jane very jealous), is worshiped in his role as Spider-Man by New Yorkers and receiving lots of press for his exploits saving people.
But then the challenges appear. Mary Jane loses her role in a Broadway musical, a new hotshot photographer at The Daily Bugle is stepping on his toes, and misunderstandings prevent Peter from presenting an engagement ring to Mary Jane. She is befriended by the son of a villain Spidey did in in the last feature – Harry Osborne. He is eventually consumed by vengeance and turns into one of the too-many villains in this film. There’s also the challenge of Spider-Man’s new black costume, which seems to be generated by something from outer space and which when worn transforms meek Peter into a more powerful, mean and unprincipled being. Another villain with deep connections to Spidey is the Sandman, whose body has been transformed into silicon-based due to a giant experimental sand pile into which he accidentally fell. (The CGI sand animation is truly unique and perfect for the hi-def display of Blu-ray.) The new photographer at the newspaper also turns into villain Venom, and Osborne’s son become the New Goblin. Does Spidey defeat this crew of Halloween trick-or-treaters? Is the Pope Catholic?
It’s long, it’s action-packed, and you get your money’s worth. Acting and special effects are on the mark. Spidey is the most human and humane of super heroes and the viewer can’t help feeling a closer empathy with him than with most others. (That could cause some stomach upset when swinging thru the high-level streets of New York City with him – especially with the detailed and realistic hi-def imaging provided.) The extras are nearly all worth viewing – once at least. (But why do they keep repeating the same clips from a film in various featurettes that all appear together in DVD extras?)
– John Sunier