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Tuesday, November 6, 2007


The most overstuffed entry of the series to date crams more supe-opera melodrama, emotional conflict, and supervillain nemeses into a single movie than you'll find in a box full of comics. With Spider-Man riding the crest of popular acclaim, alter ego Peter Parker (Tobey Maguire) is oblivious to the professional woes and personal vulnerability of sweetheart Mary Jane (Kirsten Dunst), and his arrogance is kicked into overdrive by a "living costume" that paints his old costume black and feeds his darker emotions. It even gives Parker a swagger when he walks down the street, which is pretty hilarious coming from Maguire's ubergeek take on Parker. Meanwhile, Spidey has new villains in the form of Sandman (Thomas Haden Church) and Venom (Topher Grace), and the return of the New Green Goblin (James Franco) in a scene of such whip-cam visual frenzy and CGI-packed kinetic overkill that you can't really follow the action. Yes, it's way too much of a good thing, but director Sam Raimi manages to pack it all in and even provide some satisfying character closure.

The single-disc edition features stills galleries, bloopers, a music video and two commentary tracks. Raimi is joined by Maguire, Franco, Church, Grace and Bryce Dallas Howard (Dunst offers her comments separately from London, which are edited into the mix) for a track that gives a little insight into what an actor brings to a scene. Maguire discusses creating a character covered in a suit, Church talks character dynamics (and makes the driest jokes), Howard giggles a lot, and Raimi fills in the production details. A second track with producers Laura Ziskin, Avi Arad and Grant Curtis, editor Bob Murawski and special effects supervisor Scott Stokdyk is almost completely production-oriented.

The two-disc special edition is webbed up with colorful but standard featurettes about the villains ("Grains of Sand: Building Sandman," "Reimagining the Goblin," and "Covered in Black: Creating Venom"), the stunts, the location shooting (in New York and Cleveland), and the editing. All are full of behind-the-scenes footage and interviews and all fairly conventional, though "Hanging On ... Gwen Stacy and the Collapsing Floor" reveals just what a trouper Howard really is. The most engaging is "Science of Sound," which covers audio from music to sound effects and illustrates the scope of the job of scoring the soundscape, from the sounds of everyday movements to the orchestration of the Sandman's granulated body language. Also available in Blu-ray and PSP formats, and a trilogy three-pack.

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