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Spider-Man 3 (DVD Review)

28 Oct, 2007 By: John Latchem

Street 10/30/07
Sony Pictures
Box Office $336.5 million
$28.97 DVD, UMD, $36.95 two-DVD set, $49.95 Blu-ray

Rated ‘PG-13' for sequences of intense action violence.
Stars Tobey Maguire, Kirsten Dunst, James Franco, Rosemary Harris, J.K. Simmons, Thomas Haden Church, Topher Grace, Bryce Dallas Howard, James Cromwell.

Every so often the fickle beast of high expectations rears its ugly head. Spider-Man 3 as a film is a disappointment on almost every level, falling well short of what it should have been given the massive success of the first two “Spider-Man” movies.

Just as Spider-Man is torn between his light and dark sides, this film is conflicted about whether it wants to be a comic book movie or a character drama, and it never quite finds the balance.

Director Sam Raimi chooses to limit the action in favor of the characters engaging in drawn-out conversations about their feelings. (Is there a more useless superhero girlfriend than Mary Jane Watson?)

New characters show up out of nowhere when it services the plot, providing perhaps the laziest villain origin stories in the history of the genre. An escaped convict wanders into a random experiment that seems to serve no purpose except to exist in the off chance it can accidentally turn a man into a creature of sand. Then an alien blob manages to find Peter Parker and turns his costume black.

The alien force amplifies aggression, giving Spider-Man a darker edge and making him more apathetic toward doing the right thing. This sequence is so reminiscent of Superman III I half-expected Spider-Man to fight Peter Parker in a junkyard to resolve his internal conflict.

The movie manages to build up some energy toward the end, but kills its momentum with out-of-place sight gags and song-and-dance routines. It doesn't help that some of the visual effects stand out a little too much on a standard-def screen.

The best thing the movie has going for it is that it manages to wrap up enough of the storylines from the first two films, leading to a decent final battle.

Fortunately the DVD is loaded with enough added value to appease the built-in fan base. The featurettes on the two-disc version really showcase the effort that went into generating the stunts and special effects.

The first disc also has two commentaries, one featuring the cast fawning over what a thrill it was to be a part of the trilogy, and another with the producers.

Blu-ray Spotlight

Director Sam Raimi voiced concerns that Blu-ray might reveal “the mistakes we made” in the special effects on Spider-Man 3, but the disc shows the opposite. The visuals hold up beautifully on the latest installment. It's the best I've seen Spider-Man look, including in theaters. Spidey's nemesis Sandman shows off the high-def format particularly well; grains of sand show up in amazing contrast. Stephanie Prange


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