DVD Picks & Passes 10.28.2007

Spider-Man 3 (2007) - Pick

No End in Sight (2007) –Pick

New this week on DVD, Spider-Man 3 is a movie stuffed to bursting — with action, plotlines, characters, humor, energy, moods, spectacle and, certainly, inspiration.

The film swings breathlessly and without warning from one thing to another: breakneck excitement, outrageous silliness and comic-book morals about responsibility, sacrifice and forgiveness. If it doesn’t quite deliver all it promises, at least the filmmakers are trying for too much, not settling for too little.

Spider-Man 2 explored Peter’s difficulties juggling his dual identities. By Spider-Man 3, Peter has his double act together — in fact, he’s becoming complacent and full of himself. Still, he wants to marry MJ (Kirsten Dunst), an intention eliciting a trademark moral speech from Aunt May (Rosemary Harris): “A man has to be understanding and put his wife before himself. Can you do that?”

Peter thinks so — but even in his third outing, our hero hasn’t really grown up. He’s still living an adolescent fantasy, not fully grasping the great responsibility that comes with the great power of love. Meanwhile, Peter’s best friend is out to kill him, an alien symbiote is stalking him, a fugitive has been transformed into a walking sandstorm — and that’s just for starters.

Yes, it’s too many characters, too much story, like the second Pirates of the Caribbean or Peter Jackson’s King Kong. Compared to Spider-Man 2, it’s somewhat uneven — but it’s head and shoulders above the original film.

Perhaps if there are more films to come, the filmmakers will finally take Peter past his extended adolescence and let him become Spider-Man in fact as well as in name.

Also new this week on DVD, Charles H. Ferguson’s sober, well-crafted documentary No End in Sight on the occupation and rebuilding efforts in Iraq is well worth seeing — whatever your views on the war.

Taking no position on the invasion itself, Ferguson makes a systematic, compelling case that, in the occupation and rebuilding efforts, poor planning and ill-informed decisions have led to disastrous consequences. While there is a definite point of view, this is no Michael Moore docuganda.

Former administration insiders, appointees and military officials involved in the efforts are among the dozens of interviews.

One crucial early mistake was failure to maintain order after the invasion — remember the looting of Iraqi museums and government buildings?

Another was disbanding the Iraqi army, which had offered little resistance during the invasion and apparently hoped to work with the occupying forces. Overnight 500,000 trained fighters with knowledge of weapons stores were unemployed — and embittered against the occupation.

Content advisory

Spider-Man 3: Nothing objectionable. Teens and up. No End in Sight: Documentary battlefield footage. Teens and up.