A little franchise known as "Spider-man" hit the big screen in the early 2000's, long before James Franco became an independent filmmaker and helped increased the popularity of fledgling stars Tobey Maguire and Kirsten Dunst. The Blu-ray releases bring us back to a time when CGI was still working out its tweaks, and its flaws are even more apparent in HD.
The original "Spider-man" is sweetly innocent in its portrayal of naïve and nerdy Peter Parker (Maguire) and how he became the crime fighting superhero. It works on every level as an origin story, hints at the romance between Peter and his true love Mary Jane (Dunst), and shows the brotherhood bond between Peter and best friend Harry (Franco). Its downfall is the superhero aspect and special effects, using too much animated footage that sadly looks even more fake in high definition.
"Spider-man 2" redeems the franchise by focusing on the problems Peter now faces as a superhero. It's two years later and Peter is tired of his superhero alter ego and starts failing in college. Meanwhile, Mary Jane has moved on to a new boyfriend and Harry is still brooding over the death of his father. Director Sam Raimi wisely eschews the action sequences for a more thoughtful character-driven story. This is the best of the trilogy.
The least interesting is "Spider-man 3" featuring not one but three villains, which makes the plot all the more convoluted. Harry is avenging the death of his father (William Dafoe), meanwhile a new villain, the Sandman, is on the scene. Bryce Dallas Howard is the new damsel in distress, who's really just a plot distraction for the fact that Kirsten Dunst doesn't appear much in this sequel. With an over-the-top ending, the Spider-man trilogy ends on a disappointing note.
A new Spider-man reboot hits theaters in July and there are trailers for the reboot film, plus an offer to get tickets for when it's released. Special features include commentaries, documentaries, and special effects examinations. The best features are Tobey Maguire's original screen test and blooper reels.