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(Two-Disc Special Edition)

To be honest, the first time I saw SPIDER-MAN 3 ($37) in the theater, I didnít like it as much as the first two installments. However, watching the film for a second time on my home theater system, I have to say that SPIDER-MAN 3 played far better in that environment, and I actually found myself appreciating the movie a whole lot more. My first impression of SPIDER-MAN 3 was that the franchise was falling victim to the same syndrome that plagued the later BATMAN movies- too many villains, which caused the story to lose focus. I still think that Venom got shortchanged in this outing, but the entire Sandman and New Goblin storylines play out satisfactorily.

The screenplay for SPIDER-MAN 3 is crammed full of subplots, but the basic premise of the film finds Peter Parker (Tobey Maguire) ready to take his relationship with his longtime love Mary Jane Watson (Mary Jane Watson) to the next levelÖ but then the complications set in. Peterís dark side is unleashed when an alien symbiont attaches itself to Spider-Man, which not only increases his powers, but also gives free reign to Peter and Spider-Manís negative, aggressive tendencies. At the same time, Mary Janeís acting career hits the skids, which also makes her envious of the attention that Spider-Man receives, not to mention, jealous of Peterís attractive classmate Gwen Stacy (Bryce Dallas Howard). Additionally, Peter has to deal with the misconceived wrath of his old friend Harry Osborn (James Franco), who has donned the mantle of New Goblin to avenge the death of his father at the hands of Spider-Man.

Making matters worse, is the escape of small time thief Flint Marko (Thomas Haden Church), who may be the man responsible for the death of Peterís beloved Uncle Ben, in addition to the thief being mutated into a new super-villain dubbed the Sandman. Finally, Peter finds himself in competition with Eddie Brock (Topher Grace) for a staff photographer job on The Daily Bugle; which doesnít end well for Brock, and leaves Peter/Spider-Man facing another dangerous enemy that has come into possession of superpowers. Like I stated above, SPIDER-MAN 3 is crammed full of subplots, so there is a whole lot going on during the filmís two hour nineteen minute run time. The cast of also features Rosemary Harris, J.K. Simmons, James Cromwell, Theresa Russell, Dylan Baker, Bill Nunn, Bruce Campbell, Elizabeth Banks, Ted Raimi, Willem Dafoe, Perla Haney-Jardine, Cliff Robertson, Elya Baskin and Mageina Tovah.

Sony Pictures Home Entertainment has made SPIDER-MAN 3 available on DVD in a 2.40:1 widescreen presentation that has been enhanced for playback on 16:9 displays. For the most part, SPIDER-MAN 3 looks awesome on DVD, with the image appearing crisp and highly detailed. There are only some occasional shots that come across as a little bit softer; usually these are wider shots. Colors are generally fully saturated and rich looking. Flesh tones are always natural and rather appealing. Blacks are dead on, as are the wholly stable whites. Contrast is very smooth and shadow detail is excellent. Film grain is very modest, even in the darker sequences. The elements from which has been transferred appear virtually pristine. Digital compression artifacts are very well concealed throughout.

SPIDER-MAN 3 comes with a Dolby Digital 5.1 channel soundtrack that is even better than the terrific video. The sound design is everything that once should expect from an action movie, with the outlying channels being well utilized for sound effects what zip around the soundstage in all directions. Additionally, the track creates nice, live sounding environments. The bass channel provides an effective rumble. Dialogue is warm, natural and always easy to understand. English and Spanish Dolby Surround tracks are also provided, as are English and Spanish subtitles.

Full motion video, animation and sound serve to enhance the DVD's interactive menus. Through the menus, one has access to standard scene selection and set up features, as well as the supplemental materials, which have been spread across both discs of this set. Disc one features two separate running Audio Commentaries, the first is with Tobey Maguire, James Franco, Thomas Haden Church, Sam Raimi, Kirsten Dunst, Bryce Dallas Howard, and Topher Grace and the second includes Avi Arad, Grant Curtis, Laura Ziskin, Scott Stokdyk, and Bob Murawski. Also on disc one are Still Galleries, a Blooper Reel, Video Game Preview, Merchandising and a Snow Patrol Music Video for Signal Fire.

Moving on to disc two, one will find the remainder of the supplemental programming. The Featurettes include: Grains Of Sand: Building Sandman (fourteen minutes), Re-Imagining The Goblin (ten minutes), Covered In Black: Creating Venom (fifteen minutes), On Location: New York- From Rooftops To Backstreets (thirteen minutes), On Location: Cleveland- The Chase On Euclid Avenue (seven minutes), Inside The Editing Room (four minutes), The Science Of Sound (sixteen minutes), Hanging On...Gwen Stacy And The Collapsing Floor (ten minutes), Fighting, Flying, And Driving: The Stunts (nineteen minutes), Tangled Web: The Love Triangles Of Spider-Man 3 (three minutes) and Wall Of Water (seven minutes).

I liked SPIDER-MAN 3 at home a lot more than I did in the theater, perhaps because there is so much going on throughout the film, one really canít appreciate it all, until the second viewing. Sonyís DVD looks and sounds awesome, plus it includes a whole lot of goodies. Recommended.



Spider-Man 3 (2-Disc Special Edition) (2007)



DVD reviews are Copyright © 2007 THE CINEMA LASER and may not be copied or reprinted without the written consent of the publisher.
THE CINEMA LASER is written, edited and published by Derek M. Germano.



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