Spider-Man 3 Sam Raimi

Spider-Man 3 Sam Raimi

Sam Raimi continues to please the fans that both Marvel and Columbia Pictures want to please: young, influential consumers who want blow-’em-up action and an action figure to match. But with this third spin around Spidey’s web, he manages to alienate an audience that’s never been loyal to the superhero genre in the first place: discerning film fans who’ve come (however grudgingly) to admire the craft, character development and maturity he managed to bring to the series’ first two instalments (particularly 2, the trump card in the whole "all sequels are inferior” debate). But producer Avi Arad wanted bigger, badder and more for part three, and practically forced Raimi to add extra villains. Thus Spider-Man 3 sacrifices story sense and forward character momentum in favour of origin stories for Sandman (a perfectly cast Thomas Haden Church), Venom (and its alter-ego, Eddie Brock, played by Topher Grace) and throws Goblin Jr. (James Franco) and Gwen Stacey (Bryce Dallas Howard) in there too. It’s bad news for Peter Parker (Tobey Maguire) and Mary-Jane Watson (Kirsten Dunst), who get less screen time and less to do than be imperilled (in MJ’s case) and beat back the upstarts (in Spidey’s). Throw in an absurd dance sequence meant to showcase Parker’s "bad boy” side (really?) and it’s a recipe for disappointment. Yet on a straight-up action movie level, Spider-Man 3 only just fails to reach the heightened expectations; it remains far above the B-movie schlock that has plagued less stalwart members of the Marvel Universe (Ghost Rider, Daredevil, Elektra). The DVD remains squarely in the middle of its target demo, showcasing all the special effects that went into Sandman (practically designing sand one particle at a time), the design considerations for Venom (how does one make ooze seem menacing?) and giving Goblin 2.0 a more "punk” look (flying skateboard and all). The "science of sound” featurette is geeky cool for people who’ve never watched Peter Jackson’s much more in-depth "making ofs” for The Lord of the Rings, and the stunt featurettes are fairly rote for the same reasons. There’s a jovial sense of camaraderie throughout and nothing in the way of second-guessing, especially in two commentaries (cast and crew, including Raimi, on one, producers Arad and Laura Ziskin on another). Not that I’d expect an admission that the whole exercise is FUBAR, but with nary a hint of self-reflection, it all comes off as a brilliantly executed concept scripted by the marketing department. To that end, they’re successful; it’s only the people who’ve come to believe that Spider-Man could actually be more who are disappointed. Plus: on location featurettes, bloopers, music videos, more. (Sony)