Spider-Man 3 (Blu-ray) (2007)
Audio Commentary-x 2
Alternate Audio-Audio Descriptive Service
Music Video-"Signal Fire" by Snow Patrol
Theatrical Trailer-"Surf's Up" & "Ghost Rider"
Teaser Trailer-"Spider-man 3"
Theatrical Trailer-x 4 (all "Spider-man 3")
TV Spots-x 8 (all "Spider-man 3")
|Year Of Production||2007|
|RSDL / Flipper||
Dual Disc Set
|Cast & Crew|
|Region Coding||1,2,3,4,5,6||Directed By||Sam Raimi|
Sony Pictures Home Entertain
Thomas Haden Church
Bryce Dallas Howard
|Pan & Scan/Full Frame||None||
English Dolby TrueHD 5.1
English Linear PCM 48/24 5.1
English Alternate Audio Dolby Digital 5.1
English Audio Commentary Dolby Digital 2.0 (192Kb/s)
English Audio Commentary Dolby Digital 2.0 (192Kb/s)
|Widescreen Aspect Ratio||2.40:1|
|Original Aspect Ratio||2.35:1||Miscellaneous|
|Annoying Product Placement||No|
|Action In or After Credits||No|
Taken as a whole, the Spider-man series remain the best comic book film adaptations. The first two films were both critical and commercial successes, and they both deserved it. But sadly, the latest instalment swings uncomfortably between now familiar, VFX-based action sequences, and unfamiliar, dull dramatic interludes. With a combined production and marketing budget of half a billion US dollars, Spider-man 3 is reportedly the most expensive film ever made. But like many film trilogies, the series started well, peaked in the second, and disappointed with the third. Spider-man 3 is a tangled web of multiple characters, twisted plot lines, and self-indulgence that swings well beneath the quality of the first two films.
Interestingly, while the character of Superman, and not Clark Kent, has always been the main focus of the Superman comics and films, Peter Parker is usually the focus of the Spider-Man comics and films. As such, director Sam Raimi’s first two Spidey films explored Peter’s sensitive, vulnerable, and troubled side, and these were far more involving on a human level than any of his alter ego’s superhuman achievements.
After all, Peter is an ‘accidental’ superhero, and we watched him spend a large portion of Spider-Man 2 wondering if it was really worth all the bother. Diving deeper into the central character, Spider-man 2 explored Peter’s self-doubts, emotional conflicts, and nagging insecurities. You can read my review of Spider-man 2 here.
However, in the opening scene of Spider-man 3, we find that all the adolescent angst and pain seems to have evaporated. Peter (Tobey Maguire) really seems to be enjoying his life, both as Peter Parker, and as Spider-man. He’s doing well at college, and his girlfriend, Mary Jane (Kirsten Dunst), is making her Broadway debut in the stage show, Manhattan Memories. Furthermore, the people of New York City, and now even the press, love him too.
Peter is no longer alienated and alone. While his superhero alter ego is still a secret to most, he no longer has to hide his secret identity from his girlfriend, Mary Jane, or from his former best friend, Harry (James Franco). While Harry blames Peter for the death of his father, Peter is still trying to make amends.
However, Peter and Mary Jane’s now idyllic life quickly takes a sudden and dramatic turn. Mary Jane makes a disastrous stage debut on Broadway and ends up fired, depressed, and envious of Spidey's growing fame and popularity. She is also jealous of Peter’s new ‘friend’ from college, part-time model, Gwen Stacy (played by Ron Howard's daughter, Bryce Dallas Howard). MJ ends up as a singer/waitress in a jazz club, and pathetically turning to former boyfriend Harry for attention.
To make matters worse, in what has to be this year’s biggest plot contrivance, Peter inadvertently becomes infected with a nasty creepy-crawly “symbiote”. As Peter and MJ gaze up at the stars from their spider-web hammock overlooking the city, the black goo crawls out of a meteor that very conveniently lands near them.
Peter’s concerned college professor (Dylan Baker) examines some of the black goo, and warns Peter that it “amplifies characteristics of its host”. Thus, this mysterious black ‘blob’ begins to magnify elements of Peter’s character, which in turn unleashes the mean-spirited and vengeful, Black Spider-Man within him. This manifests itself with no less than four characters rolled into one person: the decent and geeky Peter, his smug and super-cool alter ego, who struts around town busting out funky dance moves, the ‘good’ Spidey in red and blue who we’re familiar with, and the new ‘bad’ Spidey in basic black, who threatens to destroy Spidey’s good reputation.
If you think that’s a lot of characters, wait until you get to the villains. In the first two Spider-man films, there was one villain. But in Spider-man 3 there are no less than three villains, each of whom also has separate identities as well.
Firstly, there is Flint Marko (Thomas Haden Church), an escaped convict who apparently (and completely unnecessarily) is the real killer of Peter’s Uncle Ben (Cliff Robertson). This piece of writing is so clumsy it made me cringe. Anyway, while on the run from the police, Flint inadvertently becomes trapped in a "Particle Physics Test Facility”. The resulting experiment turns Flint into the shape-shifting villain, Sandman.
Secondly there's Peter's former best friend, and now worst enemy, Harry, who has taken his father’s place as the New Goblin. Thanks to his dad's lab, he also now has superhuman agility and strength, and all of his dad’s toys, including the glider. But a case of amnesia means that for some of this film he reverts back to being Peter's best friend, as he has forgotten his oath of vengeance against Peter.
Thirdly and finally, we have the unscrupulous and scheming, young Daily Bugle photographer, Eddie Brock (Topher Grace). A sleazy rival to Peter, late in the film Eddie also falls victim to the black ooze and is transformed into the evil Venom, who in this film (unlike the original Marvel Comics) seems to mirror Spidey, and have the same powers as the dark Spider-man.
These multiple villains make for an action-packed movie, with a lot of VFX and action set pieces, but they also introduce a fair amount of confusion. Falling into a similar trap as X-Men 3 did, Spider-Man 3 is overly ambitious, with far too many characters and plot lines competing for our attention. Indeed, there often seems to be two or three movies crammed into one. For example, the character of Venom is introduced very late in the film, and is one bad guy too many. His introduction into the story makes everything appear to be crowded and rushed. His late introduction also seems to extend the film uncomfortably, and it now seems a little too long. It is rumoured that Raimi only included the character of Venom at the insistence of one of the film’s producers, Marvel Studios chairman and CEO, Avi Arad. The character was included as he has a strong fan base amongst comic book fans.
Apart from the multiple villains, there are also some additional and unnecessary characters, such as one of Peter’s girlfriends from the comics, Gwen Stacy, and her father (James Cromwell) who appears in a completely forgettable role as Police Captain Stacy. Bruce Campbell who had cameo roles in the first two films, again appears in an extended cameo, this time as a maître d' at a French restaurant.
Furthermore, with these new characters, there is not just one love triangle any more, there are now three: Firstly there's the original Peter, Mary Jane, and Harry; Secondly there's now Peter, Mary Jane, and Gwen; and finally, there's also now Peter, Gwen, and Eddie. Interestingly, in the BD's audio commentary, Raimi describes the film as being "over-loaded".
The film's action set pieces are bold and loud, but there's nothing in Spider-Man 3 to match the Green Goblin’s (Willem Dafoe) memorable entrance in Spider-man, or the fantastic train sequence with Doc Ock (Alfred Molina) in Spider-Man 2. The film's climactic battle is a great disappointment on many levels. Firstly, it's not very exciting, and secondly, it again relies upon plot contrivances far too ridiculous to ignore, such as the one involving the character of Harry’s butler, who has been introduced into this third film. This climax is far beneath the level we have come to expect from these films. Indeed, by the time it comes around I imagine many viewers would have lost interest.
Sequel fatigue seems to have set in, as can happen when a franchise gets to number three or four. The script here was provided by Raimi, his brother Ivan, and Spider-Man 2 co-scripter Alvin Sargent. They all seem to have run out of fresh ideas. While in Spider-man 2, Raimi opted to further explore the characters and relationships he set up in the first film, in some ways, Spider-man 3 seems to merely rehash some of the themes from these earlier films, and clumsily lift plots and characters from earlier Marvel Comics. For example, the Peter, Mary Jane, and Harry love triangle is repeated, but it merely spins its wheels this time round. Again Peter battles his self doubt, insecurities, and the guilt from his uncle's death. Again Mary Jane has engagement disappointment, and ends up as the damsel in distress. And again Harry mopes about, unable to get over the death of his father, while swearing to avenge him. But even the drama seems hollow this time around. The direction often seems phoned in. For example, what’s up with all the crying? Both the film’s heroes and villains all seem to burst into tears throughout.
As with the previous two Spider-Man BDs, the transfer for Spider-Man 3 is truly outstanding, and again of reference quality. It has been mastered in 1920 x 1080p, using AVC MPEG-4 compression.
The High Definition transfer is presented in a widescreen aspect ratio of 2.40:1, in a native 16x9 frame. This is very close to the film's original theatrical ratio of 2.35:1.
The sharpness of the high definition transfer is astounding. For example, consider the fine detail in the flowing grains of sand as the Sandman first forms at 29:17 and the incredible definition in the cityscape of buildings at 36:10. The black level is perfect, with true deep blacks. There are many challenges in this film for cinematographer Bill Pope, as most of the principal characters wear very dark costumes (including masks), and a lot of the action takes place at night. Fortunately, the shadow detail is excellent. For example, consider the scene at night when Flint falls into the particle physics test chamber at 23:04 and the clarity in the dark underground train tunnel when Spidey meets Flint at 68:36.
The colour is perfect, with a rich palette of perfectly-saturated colours. As always, Raimi uses colour well to help tell the story. The flesh tones are accurate.
As with the previous film, Spider-man 3 was shot in Super-35. While again there is some fine film grain noticeable at times, which is common in Super-35 productions, the cause for this lies in the source material. There are no problems with the transfer in regards to MPEG, film artefacts, or film-to-video artefacts.
Unlike Spider-Man 1 and 2, only English subtitles are provided. They are accurate.
This is a BD-50 (50 GB Blu-ray disc), with the feature divided into 52 chapters.
As with the other two Spider-man films, Spider-man 3 boasts a wonderful sound design, and the BD's audio is excellent.
Originally released theatrically in Dolby Digital, dts, and SDDS surround audio, there are five audio options on this BD: The feature is presented in a choice of uncompressed Linear PCM 5.1 (encoded at 4.6 Mbps), or English Dolby TrueHD 5.1 (48kHz/24-bit). There is also an English Audio Descriptive Service, and two audio commentaries, both presented in English Dolby 2.0 (encoded at 192 kbps). Unlike the other two Spider-man films, there are no foreign language dubs.
As mentioned above, the BD's Linear Pulse Code Modulation (Linear PCM) audio is encoded at 4.6 Mbps. Linear PCM is not necessarily lossless, but the higher the sampling-rate and the bit-depth, the closer the LPCM audio is to the original recording. Although LPCM is supported by the DVD standard, it is very rarely used because it requires such a high bit rate, which takes up valuable disc space. But with dual-layer BD's enjoying 50 GB of disc space, movies on BD can take advantage of uncompressed PCM as an audio option.
Dolby TrueHD Lossless audio is common to both Blu-ray and HD DVD, although for the HD DVD format, TrueHD is a mandatory codec, and all HD DVD players must support it. Whereas in Blu-ray, TrueHD is an optional codec. For both Blu-ray and HD DVD, TrueHD is capable of carrying up to eight discrete audio channels, at a sample depth and rate of 24-bit/96 kHz. The maximum bitrate that can be encoded on either format is 18 Mbps.
As with the other two Spider-man films, there is extensive use of ADR, but the dialogue quality and audio sync are excellent throughout.
The original orchestral musical score was provided by Danny Elfman, and here the score comprises a re-working of his themes, and the introduction of new musical cues and passages by Christopher Young. Composer Young has a strong background in scoring horror-themed films, such as Nightmare on Elm Street II, Hellraiser, The Fly II, Urban Legend, The Exorcism of Emily Rose, The Grudge II, and Ghost Rider. His traditional orchestral score effectively underlines the emotions in the film, and is particularly good in the creepy moments, such as when the black goo is crawling toward Peter.
As an action film with a brilliant sound design, the surround presence and activity is again excellent. As with the original two films, the rear speakers are used effectively to help carry the score and provide a lot of ambience throughout. There are a number of rear directional effects, which includes panning between speakers during the action sequences, such as when Flint is trapped between the whirling rotors of the particle physics test chamber at 23:48 and when the black goo attacks Peter in bed at 64:13. There are also some nice touches with some more subtle rear sound effects, such as the background ambience at the city party for Spidey at 43:23, or the background sounds of the city traffic at 52:08.
The subwoofer is also utilised very effectively, and the LFE track is used well for the many sound effects and explosions throughout.
|Surround Channel Use|
Unlike the other two Spider-Man BDs in the High Definition Box Set, the Spider-Man 3 BD is packed with extras. But sadly, the featurettes are all very short, and there are no BD-Java bonuses.
Animated menus with audio.
Director Sam Raimi and the key cast members, including Tobey Maguire, James Franco, Kirsten Dunst and Topher Grace provide a screen-specific and chatty commentary that is often quite self-congratulatory and light, but Raimi often adds useful insights into the characters and the story. There are a few behind-the-scenes anecdotes and laughs along the way.
Described as a Filmmaker's Commentary, producers Avid Arad, Grant Curtis, Laura Ziskin, VFX Supervisor Scott Stokdyk, and editor Bob Murawski, provide a thoughtful and interesting screen-specific commentary. It's clear they have planned out a lot of what they wanted to discuss during the film, and it moves along very well. While never overly technical, they do provide a lot of detail, including identifying cameos by crew, describing various locations, and discussing some of the VFX and post-production.
This is an optional audio track which narrates the on-screen action.
A collection of out-takes from the film, mainly comprised of actors fluffing lines.
A collection of photographic stills taken during the film's production. They are divided into the following galleries:
Signal Fire by Snow Patrol.
These featurettes include snippets of interviews with a range of people from Stan Lee and Sam Raimi to the film's producers, Avid Arad, Grant Curtis, and Laura Ziskin, and members of the cast and crew, such as actor Tobey Maguire and editor Bob Murawski. They also feature a lot of behind-the-scenes footage from the production. Unless stated otherwise, they are presented in an aspect ratio of 1.78:1, in a 16x9 frame, with Dolby Digital stereo audio. The featurettes appear to be shot on digital tape, and are of high quality. Each focuses on a different character or aspect of the production:
These are presented with widescreen high definition video and audio, but where are the trailers for the first two films?
TV Spots Around The World
A series of short Global TV commercials for Spider-Man 3 in their original languages. Again the first two films are ignored:
NOTE: To view non-R4 releases, your equipment needs to be multi-zone compatible and usually also NTSC compatible.
Unlike the first two Spider-Man films, Spider-Man 3 is available either as a stand-alone, two-disc BD set, or as part of the high definition box-set with all three films. Although Spider-man 3 has no region coding (it is zoned for all regions), it will only be released on Blu-ray in Region A (North America) on October 30 (six weeks after it was released here in Australia). In terms of content, our discs should be identical, except the Region A gets some different language dubs and subtitles for the feature.
Note, while a Two-Disc DVD (Region 4) has also been released, Spider-man 3 will not be released on HD DVD.
Sadly, Spider-man 3 is a tangled web of multiple characters, twisted plot lines, and self-indulgence, that swings well beneath the quality of the first two movies. That noted, Spider-man 3 is still a reasonably entertaining film, despite it being a little too crowded, and a little too long.
The video quality is excellent.
The audio quality is also excellent.
The extras are genuine and enjoyable.
|DVD||Sony Playstation 3 (HDMI 1.3) with Upscaling, using HDMI output|
|Display||Panasonic High Definition 50' Plasma (127 cm). Calibrated with Video Essentials. This display device is 16x9 capable. This display device has a maximum native resolution of 1080p.|
|Audio Decoder||Built in to amplifier/receiver. Calibrated with Video Essentials.|
|Amplification||Samsung Pure Digital 6.1 AV Receiver (HDMI 1.3)|