Triple bill featuring the first three movies from the hugely popular 'Spider-Man' franchise. In 'Spider-Man' (2002) high school student Peter Parker (Tobey Maguire) is bitten by a genetically-altered spider while on a visit to a scientific institute, and he soon begins to experience unusual side effects such as increased strength, enhanced wall-climbing skills and the ability to spin webs out of his wrists. Peter first attempts to make use of these skills to impress girl-next-door Mary Jane Watson (Kirsten Dunst), but after his Uncle Ben (Cliff Robertson) is killed in an armed robbery, he is compelled to work for the greater good and reinvents himself as Spider-Man, the enemy of criminals everywhere. Meanwhile, arms manufacturer Norman Osborn (Willem Dafoe) transforms himself into the Green Goblin, begins to terrorise the city, and lays down the gauntlet to Spider-Man by abducting his beloved Mary Jane. In 'Spider-Man 2' (2004) two years have passed since the events of the first film, and the mild-mannered Peter Parker faces new challenges as he struggles with trying to balance his dual identities as the web-slinging superhero Spider-Man and his life as a college student. Tormented by his secrets, Peter finds that his relationships with all those he holds dear are in danger of unravelling. His life-long yearning for Mary Jane becomes even stronger as he fights the impulse to reveal his secret life and declare his love. His friendship with Harry Osborn (James Franco) is complicated by the young Osborn's bitterness over his father's death and his growing vendetta against Spider-Man. In 'Spider-Man 3' (2007) Peter Parker and Mary Jane are on the cusp of contentment - but not for long, as Peter's former friend Harry Osborn, son of the Green Goblin, becomes the New Goblin in his desire for revenge against Spider-Man. Fugitive Flint Marko (Thomas Haden Church), killer of Peter's Uncle Ben, has been transformed into the shape-shifting Sandman, possibly Spider-Man's toughest foe so far. To complicate matters further, a parasitic alien symbiote has attached itself to Peter's suit, giving him even greater powers but also bringing out the evil side of his personality. He has to struggle not only against two major adversaries but also against himself.
Let’s deal with the films quickly. The first Spider-Man movie arrived after the webslinger had been stuck in Hollywood development hell for the best part of a decade at least. Introducing Tobey Maguire in the title role, it was a strong opener for the franchise, and laid the path towards the inevitable sequel. And what a sequel Spider-Man 2 was: genuinely expanding on the ground of the first film, and introducing the best villain of the series to date with Doctor Octopus, it remains a very high peak for the franchise. Film three? Not so good, with three villains fighting for attention space, and Spidey himself hardly at his best. It was still a decent film, just not up to the standards of those that preceded it.
Yet whichever your favourite of the Spider-Man films is, you’re still likely to be blown away by its Blu-ray transfer. Given that the movies are among the most expensive of the past decade to make, it’s unsurprising that they’re packed with details, and that they splatter the screen with colour, action and frenetic swinging through the city streets. The colour palette looks terrific in high definition, and the vibrancy of the soundstage too makes these potential reference discs.
You get a fair selection of extras across the three films too, and all this bodes well for the release of the fourth Spider-Man movie in 2011. Until then, this Blu-ray set is very much worthy of your time and financial investment. --Jon Foster
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