Columbia Pictures/Sony Pictures Home Entertainment .
R4 . COLOR . 122 mins .
MA15+ . PAL
Spider-Man 2 continues where the first blockbuster left off. Peter Parker is a non-stop student/worker/nephew by day and vigilante (according to the Daily Bugle) crime-fighter by night. The lifestyle he is now living is not helping his reputation on both sides of his alter ego, especially with his continued attraction to Mary Jane Watson.
Can I help you little boy?
Cue new scientist-come-villian in Doctor Otto Octavius working on a theory to produce a fusion reaction to provide a self sufficient energy source. To be able to control this reaction, he has designed a set of tentacle like arms that are controlled through his central nervous system but when the initial demonstration goes wrong, the little inhibitor chip is destroyed triggering the tentacles to control him.
So what drives him to become the villian in this movie? Well, he wants to complete his project, believing it is for the good of mankind but Spidey has other thoughts, as the potential for this project to inadvertantly destroy a city is too much of a risk to undertake. With Harry Osbourn financing this intial experiement, and with a desire to destroy the web slinger that he believes killed his father, Harry and Doc Ock team up to strengthen each others cause.
All the while, Peter Parker wants his life back, believing he's become Spider-Man to please his late Uncle Ben. Things start going awry when his emotional rollercoaster of feelings for Mary Jane Watson affect his powers. It's not until his relationship with Mary Jane is jeopardised that he hangs up his Spidey pyjamas in search of a life of his own. Of course, when all superheros give up their powers and responsibilities, it is then when the kryptonite hits the radiator. Yes, there's even more homeages here to Superman 2 than the original Spider-Man was to Superman.
First impressions are not the best way to assess video and when quickly skimming through the chapters it seemed the colors on the video were not set correctly. How wrong I was because when watching the movie in its entirety it is pretty clear how accurate a representation of the movie we have here.
With the hundreds of DVDs that have come across this reviewers path, the expectation we have of a good transfer has been reached time and time again and there really isn't anything these days that can truly stand out from the mass of quality product on the market but when you look at the quality on all levels across the entire movie, this is one consistently perfect looking transfer, in all aspects.
Presented in its original 2.35:1 aspect ratio with the pre-requisite anamorphic enhancement, Spider-man 2 takes the effortless presentation of the original DVD to new levels with another reference transfer from the perfectionists at Sony Digital. Blacks are black, colors are evenly saturated, detail is ever-present, it'a all right there before you across all four corners of the screen at all times.
As much as the video is a sight to behold, the audio is an experience in itself and what a ride it is. Presented here is a Dolby Digital 5.1 soundtrack available in both English and Italian, with respective Dolby Surround soundtracks to boot. Dialogue is beautifully clear throughout even with all the running and screaming that ensues. Surround channel use comes into play as needed and never over or under utilised. The musical score just adds to the overall affect the audio plays in enhancing the movie experience. This is truly a well balanced soundtrack across the entire frequency range in all layers of audio from dialogue, to effects, to music, to ambience to subwoofer. Ohh my, that subwoofer, wow!!!
Here is now a new demo DVD for showing off your surround sound setup with a thump-thump-thumping subwoofer that brings the house down and any other house within the 50m blast radius. When the Hellboy trailer that precedes the main feature begins, you know you are in for a thundering experience. This will sort out the men from the boys. If you get the "Oh it's too loud" comment from any participating movie-goer on your movie night, escort them out of the house with force and quickly get back to the experience.
J. Jonah Jameson at his best.
Cue Chapter 16 and then Chapter 22: Big Badda Boom!!! When Doctor Octopus first fires up his machine, be prepared for a sharp Bass response that will send chills down your spine. When experiencing this section of the movie in the cinemas, it was 'the' part of the movie that made me stand up and pay attention. When you are able to reproduce the same scene on your home set up, you just grin from ear to ear until the scene has subsided.
Be warned, do not consume too much beverage before the main feature. We do not need people sitting through this movie holding their bladders due to the subsonic vibrations.
As with the original movie, Columbia Tristar have put together a collection of extras that can only be labelled as excellent. At times, DVDs are produced with a bunch of 'padding' to flesh the disc out but when done properly, it is done like Spider-Man 2.
We begin the onslaught on Disc 1 with 2 Audio Commentaries, the first from the likes of Sam Raimi (director), Tobey Maguire (Spidey), Avi Arad (Producer) and Grant Curtis (co-producer) and the second commentary by the technical folk in Steve Johnson (Edge FX who created the animatronics of the Doc Octopus character), Eric Hayden (puppet master on the movie) who are later joined by John Dykstra (visual effects supervisor), Anthony LaMolinara (animation supervisor), Scott Stokdyk (visual effects supervisor) and Lydia Bottegoni (visual effects producer). The former commentary with the cast and crew is the pick of the bunch with Raimi being the highlight giving us those cool tidbits we come to expect from him. Maguire is trying real hard to be unfunny and succeeding whilst Avi and Curtis add their usual executive propaganda. The technical focus of the second commentary is interesting when we actually have any discussion that is scene related as some of the time it feels as if the discussion has trailed off into an area far removed from what we have on screen.
Doctor Octopus with his Rubiks Cube.
If a commentary wasn't enough to give you information about the little facts and figures of the movie then use your Spidey Sense 2 to enable screen specific text based on screen factoids and trivia as you watch the movie. As much as this might seem overkill, try listening to a commentary and reading the text at the same time, you do come across some repetitive information yet it's still a nice feature to have if you want to actually hear the movie instead.
If you were one of the folk that kept up to date with the happenings on set via the short docos on the official Spider-Man 2 website then you'll be glad to see a collection of them included here in small Web-i-sode format covering Costume Design, Comic-Con Q&A, J. Jonah Jameson, Peter Parker and Mary Jane Watson. Two Music Videos are included: "Ordinary" by Train and "I Am" by Killing Heidi. A pity that they are presented in a non-anamorphic letterboxed format. Rounding out the first disc is a somewhat unfunny Blooper Reel section and a swag of 7 Theatrical Trailers including the likes of Spider-Man 2, Hellboy, Seinfeld on DVD and more ranging in quality from widescreen anamorphic 5.1 to fullframe 2.0.
Here's where the extras really excel and why we should be thankful an entire second disc is devoted to probably the best extra included in the collection. Disc 2 is really devoted to the Making the Amazing feature. This is a 2 hour making of Spider-Man 2 covering ALL aspects of the movie. The feature itself can be watched in its entirety or via a direct link to each of its twelve 10 minute specific sections. In summary we have greater power, story and character, visual design, costume design, direection, spydercam, stunts, practical effects, editing, visual effects, sound & music and lessons learned. The wealth of information here is magnificent and truly one of the best making-of documentaries I've experienced.
Mary Jane having a chain reaction.
A collection of shorter featurettes covering Hero in Crisis, Ock-Umentary: Eight Arms to Hold You and Interwoven: The Women of Spider-man continue the list of extras. Outside of using a distracting multi-angle feature within the movie itself, Enter the Web provides 12 minutes of multi-angle behind the scenes shooting. Whilst not relating to anything in particular, it does show the viewer what goes into making that special 2 second shot. Multiply that by a few thousand shots and you've got yourself a movie. We can start understanding how the budgets for these movies get so big.
If you enjoyed the paintings used in the opening title sequence, then the Gallery section is for you showcasing the selection of images painted by Alex Ross. Finally for the gamer, the Interactive section provides a look at the Activisions Spider-man 2 game trailer from E3 and a short 3 minute feature about creating the game entitled Spinning the Game.
Last of all, the DVD-ROM extras for the PC based platforms out there houses press reviews, mobile phone content, web of worlds online game and a countdown to spider-man 3. All these extras, on both discs, are wrapped up via some fantastically animated menus and topped off with a few easter eggs for those of you who want to search for that little bit extra.
A cameo by Mick Jagger?
All biases about similarities to Superman 2 aside, Spider-Man 2 is a much more polished effort than the original yet for some reason it seemed a little under-done. Are we so used to villians craving world domination that when we are presented with a person thrown into a situation that was never intended to occur do we feel our expectations of a Hollywood superhero blockbuster have been short changed? Possibly, but this sequel had that slight twinge of something lacking, the strange feeling of watching a movie that seemed shorter than it actually was, the same feeling of knowing you had more money in your wallet the last time you checked it.
This coming from someone who thoroughly enjoyed Hulk in comparison to the original Spider-Man but in this instance I chose to enjoy the ride and the ticket price was well worth it. The box office figures reflect this too and this Collectors Edition is sure to rate as one of the best DVD releases this year if only for that superb soundtrack.