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COLUMBIA TRISTAR

MOVIE INFO

Director:
Sam Raimi
Cast:
Tobey Maguire, Kirsten Dunst, James Franco, Alfred Molina, Rosemary Harris, J.K. Simmons, Donna Murphy, Daniel Gillies
Writing Credits:
Stan Lee (comic book), Steve Ditko (comic book), Alfred Gough (screen story), Miles Millar (screen story), Michael Chabon (screen story), Alvin Sargent

Tagline:
This summer a man will face his destiny. A hero will be revealed.

Synopsis:
In Spider-Man 2, the latest installment in the blockbuster Spider-Man series, based on the classic Marvel Comics hero, Tobey Maguire returns as the mild-mannered Peter Parker, who is juggling the delicate balance of his dual life as college student and a superhuman crime fighter. Peter's life becomes even more complicated when he confronts a new nemesis, the brilliant Otto Octavius (Alfred Molina) who has been reincarnated as the maniacal and multi-tentacled "Doc Ock." When Doc Ock kidnaps MJ (Kirsten Dunst), Spider-Man must swing back into action as the adventure reaches new heights of unprecedented excitement.

This extended edition includes eight minutes of new footage, plus documentaries, commentary, and an advance look at Spider-Man 3.

Box Office:
Budget
$200 million.
Opening Weekend
$115.817 million on 4152 screens.
Domestic Gross
$373.377 million.

MPAA:
Rated PG-13

DVD DETAILS
Presentation:
Widescreen 2.40:1/16X9
Audio:
English Dolby Digital 5.1
Portuguese Dolby Digital 5.1
French Dolby Digital 5.1
Spanish Dolby Digital 5.1
Subtitles:
English
French
Spanish
Portuguese
Closed-captioned
Supplements Subtitles:
Portuguese
Spanish
Korean
Japanese
Thai
Chinese

Runtime: 136 min.
Price: $19.94
Release Date: 4/17/2006

Supplements:
DVD One
• Audio Commentary with Producer Laura Ziskin and Screenwriter Alvin Sargent
• “Spider-Sense 2.1” Trivia Track
DVD Two
• “Inside Spider-Man 2.1” Featurette
• “With Great Effort, Comes Great Recognition” Featurette
• Visual Effects Breakdown
• “Danny Elfman Scores Spider-Man 2” Featurette
Spider-Man 3 Sneak Peek
• Trailers


PURCHASE @ AMAZON.COM

EQUIPMENT
Sony 36" WEGA KV-36FS12 Monitor; Sony DA333ES Processor/Receiver; Panasonic CV-50 DVD Player using component outputs; Michael Green Revolution Cinema 6i Speakers (all five); Sony SA-WM40 Subwoofer.

RELATED REVIEWS


Spider-Man 2.1: Extended Cut (2004)

Reviewed by Colin Jacobson (April 5, 2007)

Since this DVD offers the third release of 2004’s Spider-Man 2, I won’t give the usual synopsis and long-winded discussion of the flick. I’ll simply summarize and indicate that I love Spidey 2. Both it and 2002’s Spider-Man provide nearly-perfect comic book movies. I’m not sure I could possibly enjoy them more than I do.

If you’d like to read those long-winded ramblings, please click on this link for my original review of the Spider-Man 2 theatrical cut. In this space, I’ll discuss my impressions of Spider-Man 2.1, an extended version of the flick.

2.1 adds about eight minutes to the theatrical version’s running time. If you don’t want to learn the specifics, skip this section, as I’ll offer details about the new scenes!

The first added footage comes when Peter arrives at the pizza shop. We get a few more seconds of material when he discusses his job with his boss. We find a tiny amount more between Peter and the usher, and there’s an alternate version of Spidey as he takes the elevator.

A totally new sequence shows MJ as she discusses her relationship with John Jameson. We also get a fully fresh clip in which Peter attends Connor’s class right after MJ’s play, and another piece shows Jonah Jameson as he wears the Spidey suit. As for extended bits, Peter’s visit to Student Health runs longer, and we see more of Peter’s birthday party. The first fight between Spidey and Ock extends, as does the train battle.

Does 2.1 improve upon the theatrical edition? Nope. It works just fine for what it is, but I think the original version stands as the superior rendition. For a big fan like me, it’s fun to see the extra scenes. They just don’t add anything to the experience.

Indeed, the new sequences occasionally slow down the flick a bit. Take that alternate elevator piece. While the original was tight and snappy, this one drags. It’s fun to see but would be most interesting as a separate deleted scene, not as part of the movie.

Probably the most substantial sequence comes from the part with MJ and her friend as they discuss whether Watson loves John Jameson. This tells us a little more about MJ’s relationship with John but doesn’t really expand our understanding of things. Even without this bit, we already know she loves Peter and not John, so the scene is fairly redundant.

The additional footage in student health comes across the same way. It delves into Peter’s psyche more but doesn’t actually tell us anything we don’t already know. Again, it’s neat to see but deserved to be on the cutting room floor, as it slows down the story.

In the “funny but indulgent” category comes the part in which Jonah Jameson dons the Spidey suit. This is cute but undercuts the character. It implies strongly that Jonah idolizes Spider-Man, which isn’t what we want from the character. He’s much more fun when he fully despises Spidey, not when he indulges in a little hero fantasy.

As an alternate version for fans Spider-Man 2.1 offers a fun take on things. The changes don’t significantly harm the tale, as it still works very well in this format. However, I think the shorter theatrical cut offers the superior edition. It presents a tighter, smoother flick and remains the best way to experience the story.


The DVD Grades: Picture A-/ Audio B+/ Bonus B

Spider-Man 2.1 appears in an aspect ratio of approximately 2.40:1 on this single-sided, double-layered DVD; the image has been enhanced for 16X9 televisions. The transfer consistently looked great.

Sharpness worked well. Virtually no instances of softness occurred. Instead, the movie produced nicely crisp and detailed images. No issues with jagged edges or shimmering occurred, and I also detected no edge enhancement. One or two specks popped up, but otherwise the movie looked clean. Only a smidgen of grain became obvious during a few low-light interior shots.

Probably the strongest aspect of the picture stemmed from its colors. As one might expect from a comic book movie, Spidey 2 used a bright and varied palette, though it emphasized primary colors. The tones seemed vibrant and dynamic. Blacks were deep and firm, while low-light shots appeared clear and smooth; no excessive opacity occurred. I found virtually nothing about which to complain during this excellent transfer.

The Dolby Digital 5.1 soundtrack of Spider-Man 2 offered solid performance as well. The soundfield created a broad and engaging piece. Because the movie was often quite chatty, I can’t say that the audio cranked from all five speakers on a constant basis.

However, it offered a consistently good feel for its environment, and the action sequences made sure that it packed an impact. Those worked well within the spectrum and led us to sense the movement of the fights and other lively scenes well. Pieces zipped and zoomed around the room well, as the surrounds added a lot of useful audio to the package.

Audio quality always remained positive. Speech sounded firm and crisp, with no edginess or issues connected to intelligibility. Music appeared bright and bold, with tight highs and warm lows. Effects also presented strong reproduction. Those elements were clean and concise, and the louder pieces offered strong bass.

The absence of a consistently aggressive soundfield meant that I thought the audio fell into “B+” territory, down from an “A-“ for the first movie. Don’t take that as a negative, however. The audio worked well for the story. It just lacked the pizzazz to merit “A” consideration.

How did the picture and audio of Spider-Man 2.1 compare to the two prior releases of Spidey 2? Picture quality definitely improved over the erratic ”standard release” of the theatrical cut, but it looked about the same as the excellent Superbit transfer. As for the audio, all three offered very similar Dolby Digital tracks, but the DTS mix on the Superbit DVD was a little stronger. Nonetheless, this one’s Dolby Digital audio seemed more than satisfactory. The Superbit continues to offer the best picture and sound for Spider-Man 2, but 2.1 comes very close to that level of quality.

This Spider-Man 2.1 set comes with a mix of new extras. On DVD One, we open with an audio commentary from producer Laura Ziskin and screenwriter Alvin Sargent. Both sit together for this running, screen-specific track. They discuss story and character issues, elements cut from the original script, moving along the series, and general production subjects.

Though married in real-life, Ziskin and Sargent don’t show lots of sparks via their interaction. Ziskin strongly dominates the chat, as she provides most of the info and needs to prompt Sargent to get him to say much. We get a fair amount of dead air throughout the piece and not a whole lot of insight. This turns into a mediocre chat.

DVD One also includes a trivia track called Spidey-Sense 2.1. It presents the usual mix of factoids. We learn about the production, cast and crew, characters and story, connections to the comics, and other related elements. Plenty of good details emerge, and these turn “Spidey-Sense” into a useful extra, though some moderate amounts of movie pass without information.

In addition to the text, “Spidey-Sense” integrates occasional pieces of behind the scenes footage. Periodically through the film, the movie image shrinks down and moves to the lower left-hand corner of the screen. We see material from the set fill most of the TV. These bits come without unique audio, as we still hear the flick’s soundtrack. They give us some fun elements from the shoot, though, and are a nice little bonus.

Over on DVD Two, two featurettes launch the disc. Inside Spider-Man 2.1 runs 13 minutes, 35 seconds and mixes movie clips, behind the scenes elements, and interviews. We hear from producer Avi Arad, co-producer Grant Curtis, editor Bob Murawski, visual FX supervisor Scott Stokdyk, color and lighting TD John Haley, cloth and hair TDs Hector Tantoco, Arturo Aguilar, and 2.1 animation director Spencer Cook.

“Inside” looks at changes made for Spidey 2.1. We get info about the alterations and see how they were rendered for the updated version. This is a helpful program, though it doesn’t detail all the differences.

For the seven-minute and 52-second With Great Effort, Comes Great Recognition, we hear from Stokdyk, visual effects supervisor John Dykstra, and animation supervisor Anthony LaMolinara. “Effort” looks at the visual effects and their success at the Oscars. Though this comes across as a little self-congratulatory, it mostly gives us an interesting glimpse behind the scenes. We see the process through which flicks get chosen for VFX Oscars in this informative piece.

Next comes a Visual Effects Breakdown. This splits into five different parts; all together, they fill 32 minutes, 36 seconds. We get comments from Dykstra, LaMolinara, Stokdyk, VFX producer Lydia Bottegoni, VFX editor Kevin Jolly, and miniatures supervisor Eric Durst. Essentially a collection of five featurettes, we learn about the use of actors vs. CG, challenges related to Doc Ock and capturing CG skin, motion capture, depicting the pier climax, creating the train sequence, and the connections between VFX folks and editors on Spidey 2.

Though rather dry at times, these components give us a solid look at the visual effects. They cover their issues in a thorough manner and usually stay reasonably interesting. Like I said, they can become somewhat stiff on occasion, but they provide good detail and usually entertain as they inform.

Another featurette follows. Danny Elfman Scores Spider-Man 2 lasts five minutes, 10 seconds, though the inclusion of two separate angles makes the potential viewing time twice as long. Actually, Angle One appears during both versions; Angle 2 adds a small inset box through which Elfman discusses his work. The main image shows the recording and mixing processes. We get a few nice insights about the scoring side of things here.

We find the inevitable Spider-Man 3 Sneak Peek. This two-minute and 32-second clip obviously exists to promote the new flick. It may do so well, but since I want to avoid spoilers, I won’t watch it until after May 4th!

Finally, we get a collection of Trailers. Here we discover ads for Spider-Man 3 and Spider-Man 3: The Game.

If you want to see the best version of Spider-Man 2, stick with the theatrical cut. While the extended Spider-Man 2.1 is fun to see for fans and works pretty well on its own, it doesn’t seem as tight and coherent as the original version. The DVD offers excellent visuals, very positive audio, and some reasonably good extras. Serious Spidey fans will want to check out version 2.1, but most folks will remain happiest with the original theatrical Spider-Man 2.

To rate this film visit the Special Edition review of SPIDER-MAN 2

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