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Blu-ray Review: Spider-Man Trilogy

by Erin Hatch, Editor

It has been ten years since Sam Raimi launched his series of Spider-Man films, and the best way to see just how much has changed in the past decade is to watch the series over again on its new, high-definition blu-ray release. Tobey Maguire is Peter Parker, an awkward nerd who is bitten by a genetically modified spider during a class field trip and ends up gaining a slew of vaguely spider related powers, such as the ability to spin webs, crawl up walls, and enhanced awareness of the world around him. But life for a superhero is rarely as simply as wall-crawling and web-slinging, and the Spider-man trilogy simultaneously presents itself as an examination of Peter’s increasingly complex personal life.

It is remarkable how much has changed in the way Marvel’s heroes have been presented on screen between the era in which Columbia Pictures produced Spider-Man (2002), Spider-Man 2 (2004), and Spider-Man 3 (2007), and the era of Marvel’s The Avengers cycle, starting with 2008’s Iron Man and culminating with this summers explosive blockbuster, The Avengers. Spider-Man is conflicted about protecting his identity and the people around him in ways that Iron Man, Thor and Captain America never bother to consider. Likewise, the Spider-man films spend more time characterizing their antagonists as well as rounding out their hero. Finally, there is a quirky comic energy in the Spider-Man trilogy that keeps the films feeling fast and fun, and the film utilizes vibrant colors that Hollywood action blockbusters seem to have forgot in the years since. These films have a very different feel than Marvel’s recent adaptations, and with some minor exceptions, they hold up well. So how do they look on Blu-ray?

Spider-Man (2002):
Peter gains his powers and finds his superhero identity as Sam Raimi shows how an origin story should be done. The CGI looks particularly dated in the first film, especially when contrasted with the regular photography, which looks brilliant and crisp in blu-ray form. Shows its age more than the other two, but the strength of the origin story keeps the film relevant.

Spider-Man 2 (2004):
This is a masterpiece of comic-book to film adaptation, and watching this again can remind you just how good- and human- a superhero fantasy can be. Spider-man tries to balance crime fighting and real life and finds himself lacking, putting his relationships with friends and family in jeopardy as the mad Doctor Otto Octavius threatens the city with an unsafe fusion experiment. There are moments that veer toward the pulpy side of genre cinema- Sam Raimi makes a world record attempt for women screaming at the camera, and almost pulls it off- but for every quirky reference to his Evil Dead days, there is more than enough action and character drama to give the film a sense of weight. A few CGI set pieces don’t play as well in HD as they did on screen in 2004, but for the most part the film holds up and looks great on blu-ray. (Also, Community’s Joel McHale has a bit part as a banker in the film, one of many actors who have gone on to do great things since being featured in the trilogy).

Spider-Man 3 (2007):
This reviewer knows that he is on the wrong side of popular opinion, but Spider-Man 3 got a bad rap when it was released. Yeah, the film is kind of a mess. It tries to be everything Spider-man 2 was and more, and ends up doing nothing as well as it should. Sam Raimi’s sense of humor, which strained credibility at moments in the previous film, goes of the deep end from time to time. Peter goes a little overboard on the whole “emo” thing when setting up for Venom. All of this is true. At the same time, Spider-Man 3 presents a lot more of what made the first two films good, and wraps up the trilogy in an action-packed finale. And James Franco! His New Goblin costume is ludicrous, but his performance out-of-costume demonstrates that he can actually act! Spider-man 3 may not be as good as its predecessors, but it still has its moments. Of the three, Spider-Man 3 has aged the least, with CGI and special effects holding up much more consistently in High Definition than in its predecessors, and it generally looks good on blu-ray.

Special Features:
These new releases are packed full of commentaries and featurettes that can extend interest in these discs:


  • Spider Sense Trivia Challenge (Blu-ray Exclusive)- Rise to the ultimate web-slinging challenge as you test your Spider-Man movie knowledge in this over feature trivia game. Do you have the spider sense to achieve the highest score?
  • The Spider-Man Cutting Room Floor (Blu-ray Exclusive)- Create your own video using clips and music from the movie and share it via BD-Live!
  • Multi-Angle Webisodes
  • Behind the Scenes of Spider-Man
  • Screen Tests: Tobey Maguire, J.K. Simmons & CGI Spider-Man
  • Costume and Makeup Test
  • Gag/Outtake Reel
  • 1080p Video
  • Dolby True HD 5.1 Audio
  • Ultraviolet Digital Copy

Spider-Man 2:

  • Theatrical and Extended versions of the film
  • Commentary with Director Sam Raimi, Tobey Maguire, Producer Avi Arad, and Co-Producer Grant Curtis
  • Technical Commentary
  • Commentary with Producer Laura Ziskin and Screen Writer Alvin Sargent
  • Blooper Reel
  • “Hero In Crisis”
  • “Making the Amazing” – A 12 part documentary
  • Ock-umentary- Eight Arms to Hold You
  • VFX Breakdowns
  • 1080p Video
  • Dolby True HD 5.1 Audio
  • Ultraviolet Digital Copy

Spider-Man 3

  • Filmmaker and Cast Commentaries
  • Snow Patrol Music Video
  • Bloopers
  • Photo Galleries
  • 1080p Video
  • Dolby True HD 5.1 Audio
  • Ultraviolet Digital Copy

You probably already have your mind made up about the Spider-Man films, but even so, if it has been awhile since you last watched them, there is no better time to revisit them than now. Sam Raimi’s exploration of Spider-man’s character can in many ways define the last decade, and is especially notable now that Columbia is going back to the Spider-Man franchise with this summer’s The Amazing Spider-Man (well advertised on the discs), which reboots the series with a new director and principle cast. Before moving on to this brave new world of franchise reboots, it is worthwhile to look back at what the series produced, which in many ways feels so recent and yet so far away. Whatever may come of the franchise from here, Spider-man has had some amazing moments so far, and there is no better way to revisit those moments than the new blu-ray release.

ComicsOnline.com gives Spider-Man on blu-ray five out of five upside-down kisses. (Because it makes us swoon so.)

ComicsOnline.com gives Spider-Man 2.1 on blu-ray five out of five failed fusion experiments.

ComicsOnline.com gives Spider-Man 3 on blu-ray four out of five emo superhero haircuts.

Swing back to ComicsOnline.com for more reviews and for everything geek pop culture!

About Erin Hatch

Erin Hatch has a girly first name, but he's a manly man, as evidenced by his beard growing prowess. Buy him drinks and he may sing you sweet songs.


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