Spider Man 1, 2, and 3
Director - Sam Raimi
Cast - Toby Maguire, James Franco, Kirsten Dunst
Country of Origin - U.S..
Discs - 1
MSRP - $19.99/19.99/19.99
Distributor - Sony Pictures
Reviewer- Scott MacDonald
When it was announced that Sam Raimi would be directing a film adaptation of Spider Man, I immediately got excited. Although, Raimi's prior film was the Kevin Costner Rom-Com For the Love of the Game, he was the man who brought forth to the world The Evil Dead trilogy, Darkman, The Gift, and the severely underrated comedy western The Quick and the Dead.
Raimi had shown over the years through his various films a certain visual flair coupled with his own kinetic energy, that was certain to fit the comic book medium like a proverbial glove. When the film hit theaters, and I finally got the chance to see it for myself, the end result proved that much to be accurate.
I will admit the one thing that really irks me about comic book movies (and more so now with the constant rebooting), is the origin story. I understand there is a good number of the mainstream populous that did not grow up reading Spider-Man, X-Men, Batman, etc and need to be filled in before we can get to the "good stuff," but I always felt like cinematic origin stories were time wasters when established characters were being used.
I still feel that way about the first Spider-Man film. However, Raimi gives Spidey's origin story his trademark visual style, and pumps it so full of energy it's hard not to get caught up in it all. Not to mention the casting is absolutely pitch-perfect with Toby Maguire playing a great Peter Parker/Spider-Man, and even though I still don't think she's perfect Kirsten Dunst does admirably as Mary Jane Watson. Even the supporting players from Cliff Robertson and Rosemary Harris as Uncle Ben and Aunt May and James Franco as best friend and soon to be Green Goblin 2 Harry Osborn are impeccably cast.
The story for those still unaware. Peter Parker, a high school student living with his Aunt and Uncle gets bitten by a radioactive spider granting him spider like abilities. He becomes the superhero Spider Man following the death of his Uncle Ben, which he considers his fault. While this is going on, Norman Osborn head of Oscorp Industries falls prey to one of his own military experiments, and becomes the psychotic supervillain The Green Goblin. Spider-Man must learn to come to terms with his new powers, and the responsibilities they bring, and stop the Green Goblin.
Raimi ends up making the first film in his Spider-Man trilogy a fun action packed extravaganza. The film is well-acted, well-written, blending great comic book action, with great emotional depth, and three dimensional characters.
Spider Man 2 (4.5/5)
If Spider Man was Star Wars than Spider-Man 2 is this series the Empire Strikes Back. This film is darker, deeper, more complex, and just an all around better film than the last one. Now that we have all that silly origin stuff out of the way, we can also get to having a good real Spider-Man adventure, which is what we get with Spider-Man 2.
The film follows the first film probably by a few months. Peter Parker is now living in a boarding house, and barely making ends meet. As the film begins he is in the process of getting fired from a pizza parlor, and is making what little money he has taking Spider-Man pictures for the Daily Bugle. On top of that he is getting behind on his school work, and is completely distanced from his best friends Mary Jane Watson and Harry Osborn after the events of the first film.
This changes after an impromptu birthday party thrown by his Aunt May that temporarily reunites the trio, and gives Peter the chance to meet his scientific hero Doctor Otto Octavius. Octavius has been working on a new source of a energy that may change the world, and has created a series of bionic limbs to help work with them during the first public experiment disaster strikes, and Octavius melds with the limbs, which due to them having a mind of their own take his sanity. He loses his wife, and his life’s work all in one go. Determined to get back on track, he turns to a life of crime to fund his research, and prove that he can still accomplish his scientific goals, it is up to Spider-Man to stop him before he destroys the city.
Spider-Man 2 shows Raimi and Co. moving in all cylinders. The cast has really gotten comfortable in their respectively roles, and have fleshed them out more than ever. On top of that Sam's visual style has trumped anything he did in the previous film, and he has even reintroduced some of the horror tropes he was known for earlier in his career, moments like the disaster in Octavius' lab, and the hospital scene after can be easily construed as some of the most terrifying in Raimi's filmography outside of his absolute horror output.
Spider Man 3 (2.5/5)
If Spider-Man 2 is the Empire Strikes Back of the Spider-Man series, then Spider-Man 3 is surely this series Return of the Jedi. It treads the same territory as the earlier films with a few moderate attempts at character development, and multiple villains that don't have the screen time to be truly fleshed out.
Spider-Man 3 takes place a while after the events of 2. Peter is now in a relationship with M.J., and is juggling his life as Spider-Man and Peter Parker. Things of course cannot stay perfect for long, especially after a new photographer named Eddie Brock starts getting good snaps of Spider-Man, and the Daily Bugle starts running with those. He comes into contact with the Venom symbiote, which brings out the worst in his personality in exchange for even greater powers, a new villain arrives on the scene called The Sandman, and this one is actually responsible for Uncle Ben's death, also Harry Osborn has taken up the psychotic mantle of the Green Goblin, and M.J., has broken up with him after he is caught smooching with a classmate during a public Spider-Man Day event! So it's up to Spider/Peter to save the day, and put his life back together.
First things first, I am a Venom fan. I know Sam Raimi isn't, and this was said before and during this production, so as he was just added to this for name value it shouldn't have happened. Venom, not the symbiote, but Venom came into this film too damn late to have any impact, and his story felt completely and utterly rushed, and as such felt like an utter mess. I get the Green Goblin 2, I get the Sandman. That works, but bringing the Venom Symbiote, and Venom into it, not a great idea at all.
Also, I have no problem with That 70's Guy (Topher Grace), but he is, and never will be Eddie Brock. I get what Raimi was attempting with the whole Anti-Peter Parker thing, it just didn't work, and should have been left in an earlier draft of the film. I will admit the dancing scene actually does work for me. Peter is a nerd, this is his aggressive vengeful side. It may look stupid, but this is sort of the best he could come up with.
Overall, the whole film is a well of missed opportunities. There is too much going on for 2 short a film, you could pretty much have Spider Man 3 and 4 out of the plot crammed into this one.
All 3 Spider Man films are brought to Blu-ray in absolutely gorgeous transfer. The first film is presented in 1:85:1 while films 2 and 3 are presented in 2:40:1 aspect ratio. All 3 disc look like fantastic reference quality material. There is a healthy level of grain though out especially in darker moments, flesh tones are accurate, details are greatly increased from their DVD counterparts, and colors truly POP from the screen.
Spider-Man 1 and 2 each have a 5.1 DTS-HD Master Audio and a 2 channel Stereo track in English, and also 5.1 tracks (and subtitles) in a multitude of other languages. Spider-Man 3 features an English language TrueHD 5.1 track, and an Uncompressed PCM 5.1 English track, and also a multitude of 5.1 language and subtitle options.
For my viewing I stuck to the 5.1 tracks, and found that each was completely solid. They all had very good range, the effects and music were mixed very well, and never drowned out the dialogue. I did not detect any audio issues on the transfer.
The Spider-Man Trilogy of Blu-ray's are loaded up with extras, however, seeing as these films have seen multiple DVD releases over the last decade most of the extras have been ported over from those releases.
The first Spider-Man as far as new extras are concerned contains the Spider-Man trivia challenge, and the Spider-Man Cutting Room which allows users to make their own Spider-Man videos using footage, music, and effects from the movie. The archival extras include 3 Commentaries the first with the filmmakers and cast, the second with the visual effects team and crew, and the third with Tobey Maguire and J.K. Simmons. We then get a slew of documentaries kicking off with a 25 minute featurette called Spider-Man the Mythology of the 21st Century, which gives an overview of the comic books, and interviews Spider-Man creator Stan Lee. There is also a 25 minute HBO making of, followed by an E! Entertainment Special on the film. We then get short less than 10 minute profiles on Sam Raimi and Danny Elfman. We then get to go Behind The Scenes of Spider Man with over half an hour of various behind. There are also a series of Behind The Scenes Webisodes. The disc wraps up with a couple of music videos by Chad Kroger and Sum 41, TV Spots, the original theatrical trailer, an UltraViolet digital copy, and a $10 free movie ticket to Amazing Spider Man.
Nothing new at all was added to the Blu-ray of Spider Man 2. You get both the extended and theatrical versions. This is followed by 3 commentary tracks one with the cast and crew, a technical commentary, and a third with Laura Ziskin and Alvin Sargent, the latter is exclusive to the extended version, the others play with the theatrical version. We then get half an hour of various behind the scenes material under the heading of "Making the Amazing," and then a 15 minute fluff piece that talks about the deepening Spider-Man story arc called Hero In Crisis. This is followed by up 8 Arms to Hold You, a special effects documentary about bringing Doctor Octopus to the big screen. The disc is rounded off with a blooper reel, a visual effects breakdown, an Ultraviolet Digital Copy (these are totally why you bought the disc isn't it?), and a $10 movie pass for the Amazing Spider-Man.
Everything you didn't want to know about Spider Man 3 was ported over from the DVD. The disc kicks with an audio commentary featuring the director and cast, and also a filmmakers commentary. This is followed up by 7 minutes of bloopers, a stills gallery, the films theatrical trailer, and a music video for Signal Fire by Snow Patrol Oh yeah, and the UltraViolet Digital Copy you had no idea you really really wanted, and $10 in Amazing Spider Man movie bucks.
Well, this isn't a box set, but they are all Spider Man so I grouped them all together. You get 2 of the best superhero movies of the 2000’s followed by a not quite as good one. The Blu-ray's are of near reference quality A/V, and the extras on the first 2 disc while mostly archival are pretty darn elaborate and informative. Also, if you pick up all 3 flicks you and two friends can go the new movie on Sony. 2/3 Highly Recommended!