I have to confess that I enjoyed Spider-Man 3 on DVD more so than I did when I saw it at the cinema. Part of the reason was that I was able to pause the film when I needed a toilet break (c'mon, Sam, it didn't need to be THAT long). And watching on the widescreen telly at home, you get a lot more intimacy with the characters; and as with the previous two instalments, this really is a character-driven film, more so than many other superhero flicks.
When Spider-Man 3 hit the cinemas a few months back, I considered it pretty disappointing. As the first summer blockbuster of the year, and with such high anticipation built up, it came as a bit of a letdown. On the plus side, the set pieces and action scenes are truly amazing and spectacular; the advances in CGI since the second outing have to be seen to be believed. The set pieces — such as the initial airborne battle wth Harry, the runaway crane and rescue of Gwen Stacey, the armoured truck fight with The Sandman, and the final showdown at the building site with Sandman and Venom — leave your jaw resting on the ground. And there are some nice comedic touches — particularly from Raimi pal Campbell as a snooty French maitre'd, and the ever-reliable Simmons as Daily Bugle boss J Jonah Jameson. But the plot is too busy, and with too many villains, it's starting to move into (*shudder*) Batman & Robin territory. To be honest, as a big fan of The Sandman as a kid — and with an actor the calibre of Haden Church in the role — I would have been as happy as a pig in the proverbial if they had just stuck with him as the solo villain this time round, and left Venom for a later film. It's no secret that Venom only appears in Spider-Man 3 because Marvel Comics boss and exec producer Avi Arad insisted on it — Raimi was never a big fan of the extraterrestrial villian that's hugely popular with younger fans of the comic. But much of what's wrong with the web-slinger's third outing comes down to the presence of the pile of black goo. And while I'm in plot-picking mode: the ups and downs with Peter and MJ's relationship is simply a retread from Spidey 2; making Flint Marko (aka Sandman) the killer of Peter's Uncle Ben is a pointless plot twist that adds nothing to the story; and making Peter an emo kid who saunters down the New York streets as though he's Tony Manero from Saturday Night Fever was just too silly for words. The Venom symbiote is supposed to enhance aggresion; those scenes should have been played much, much darker.
Never mind. It really doesn't matter what critics say (and reviews were very mixed) — Spider-Man 3 raked in bucketloads of cash, and it's been announced that there will definitely be a Spider-Man 4, 5 and 6. But whether Raimi, Maguire et al will be back remains to be seen. Which is a shame, because without Raimi's firm hand at the helm, I really don't think the Spider-Man franchise has a future.
EXTRAS **** A whole disc's worth. Apart from two commentaries (one with Raimi and the cast) there's a gag reel, a photo gallery and a whole heap of making-of featurettes, including: Building Sandman, Re-imagining the Goblin, Creating Venom, The Stunts, The Love Triangle, The Science of Sound, and On Location New York. A pretty decent package.