Spider-Man was hard to beat but with the long-awaited sequel director Sam Raimi gave us "the finest Marvel adaptation ever committed to celluloid". Tobey Maguire returns as the sticky-fingered superhero, albeit a reluctant one with a serious case of heartache - not to mention that twinge in his lumbar region. When it was finally unleashed, Spider-Man 2 wowed the critics and broke box office records all over the world. Despite this, producers reckon the third instalment will mark the (sticky?) end to the Spider-Man movie franchise.
Spinning The Web
They needed two discs to fit in Spider-Man 2 and Making The Amazing, an epic-length documentary split into 12 easy-to-swallow pieces. It picks up with Raimi reflecting on the phenomenal success of the first movie - or more specifically trying not to think about it. As he rolls into production on No.2, he confesses, "Nothing tells me that this will work." But Tobey Maguire, Alfred Molina and Kirsten Dunst - along with the film's producers - have every faith in Raimi. No doubt it was tricky, especially as behind-the-scenes cameras seem to follow his every move on the set.
All aspects of production, from story development, to visual design, to stunts, sound effects and music are dealt with in satisfying detail in Making The Amazing although, disappointingly, there's no word from the film's team of writers. Still, there are some classic moments to make up for this, including a light-hearted spat between Raimi and Maguire as he gears up for an emotional scene. "I want better acting," demands Raimi. "You are the puppet master," snaps Maguire.
It's this playful dynamic between Raimi and Maguire that livens up the cast and crew commentary. As well as discussing the set-ups and character development, Raimi confesses to deriving special pleasure out of torturing Maguire. Just after Spider-Man trashes his suit, watch out for the bag that whacks Peter in the head when he squats to pick up some books - that'll be Sam. "It hurt after a while - I was starting to get angry," says Maguire of the 20 odd takes it took to get the shot. Raimi cheerfully responds, "I know."
For the inside track on all the stunning effects sequences - notably the train rescue and aerial cityscapes - there's also a nitty-gritty technical commentary.
Blowing Away The Cobwebs
Hardcore fans will lap up three featurettes tracing Spider-Man back to his inky origins, with creator Stan Lee joining cast and crew to dissect plot and character. Hero In Crisis flashes back to Issue 50 of the original comicbook series, a groundbreaking yarn titled Spider-Man No More, which was the inspiration for this movie. In The Women Of Spider-Man, Lee reveals that MJ is actually a composite of two very different characters, while Eight Arms To Hold You follows the evolution of Doc Ock, who actually has six arms, but let's not quibble. Go to the Making The Amazing menu and click on Ock's left tentacle to open up a hilarious Easter egg featurette in which Molina gets tips on how to act with appropriate villainy from a visiting Willem Dafoe.
Enter The Web takes you behind-the-scenes of the stunt-laden climax with a heightened sense of immediacy. Exploiting the multi-angle feature to capture all of the action, we're also made privy to the last minute consultations between Raimi and his crew as they set up the shots and prepare the actors. Of course, there's also perverse pleasure to be had in watching A-List stars being flung around like squirming maggots on the end of fishing rods...
Other extras include a gallery of quirky paintings by Alex Ross (used for the comic strip in the opening credits), a series of bite-sized internet promos (aka web-i-sodes), and Train's Ordinary music video. All together it's a first-rate package guaranteed to ensnare fans in its web of moviemaking wonder for hours.