As far as comic book superheroes go, Spider-Man ranks right up there alongside Superman and Batman when it comes to name recognition. Yet unlike those DC heroes, if you discount theatrically-released re-edits of the '70s TV series, rights issues meant that Marvel's webslinger had to wait until the start of the 21st century to make his bigscreen debut.
Directed by Sam 'Evil Dead' Raimi, Spider-Man (2002) marked a strong debut for the character – not only wowing audiences with its sensational visual effects, but also making them care about its characters thanks to an impressive cast.
Spider-Man 2 (2004) knocked things up another notch, lending even greater weight to the drama while letting Raimi's camera run wild with the introduction of new villain Doctor Octopus (Alfred Molina). Sadly, Raimi's Spider-Man 3 (2007) didn't recapture the magic of the previous films – it's wildly uneven in tone and, from storylines to villains, there's just too much going on.
Spidey stayed off the bigscreen for five years until director Marc Webb rebooted the franchise with The Amazing Spider-Man (2012). While not up to the levels of the first two Raimi outings, this delivered plenty of exhilarating action and everything looked to be back on course… until The Amazing Spider-Man 2 (2014) sent the franchise careening off the rails in Spider-Man 3-style with its over-stuffed plot and surfeit of supervillains.
Picture: Prior to the release of this boxset, only The Amazing Spider-Man 2 has been available on 4K BD (where it continues to be one of the best-looking films on the format). The three Sam Raimi movies don't reach that same visual high, but their 4K encodes (presumably based on scans done for earlier 'Mastered in 4K' Blu-ray releases) deliver rich colours and fine details, all the while retaining an authentic film-like appearance, and make for commendable upgrades. The Amazing Spider-Man comes closer to the polish of its sequel, but doesn't pop quite so vibrantly.
Picture rating: 4.5/5
Audio: All five flicks now sport Dolby Atmos mixes (at least on the 4K platters) – and the results are wonderful. These are expansive soundfields, continually immersive and with potent dynamics, and even the earliest films now make convincing use of the additional height channels. After one listen you'd swear that this is how the films were always meant to sound.
Audio rating: 5/5
Extras: While the 4K discs don't offer anything of note, the set's 1080p Blu-ray presentations are stuffed with legacy commentaries, featurettes and other goodies. There are also two bonus Blu-rays housing even more extras (including a new, but not really any better, re-edit of Spider-Man 3). All of which is spread across two digibooks housed in a sturdy slipcase.
Extras rating: 5/5
We say: Impressive 4K makeovers and an endless array of extras make for a superb boxset.
Spider-Man: Legacy Boxset, Sony Pictures, Ultra HD Blu-ray & All-region BD, £100
HCC VERDICT: 4.5/5
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