Spider-Man 2 appears in an aspect ratio of approximately 2.40:1 on this 4K UHD Disc. This became a largely satisfying presentation.
Sharpness worked well for the most part. Some wider shots could feel a little tentative, but most of the movie showed nice delineation.
No issues with jagged edges or shimmering occurred, and edge enhancement was absent. Source flaws were also a non-issue, as the flick lacked obvious defects. Grain seemed heavier than expected.
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 fairly vibrant and dynamic, though the graininess could dull the hues a little. The HDR compensated and gave the colors punch.
Blacks were deep and firm, while low-light shots appeared clear and smooth; no excessive opacity occurred. HDR brought added impact to whites and contrast, though again, the grain created some distractions. The movie delivered a good image despite the surprisingly high level of grain.
Downconverted to Dolby TrueHD 7.1, I felt pleased with the Dolby Atmos soundtrack of Spider-Man 2, as 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 the speakers on a constant basis, but the mix used the channels to good advantage when appropriate.
It offered a consistently good feel for its environment, and the action sequences made sure that it packed an impact. Those worked within the spectrum well 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. This was an impressive soundtrack.
How did this 4K UHD compare to the original 2007 Blu-ray? The Atmos audio added some involvement to the already excellent 5.1 mix.
As for visuals, the 4K UHD brought improved colors and delineation, but… grain! While all versions of the first Spider-Man seemed grainy, that didn’t become an issue with the prior releases of Spidey 2, which made the graininess of this 4K UHD such a surprise.
Don’t get me wrong: I’m all for grain when it exists as part of the original film. This image just felt oddly grainy given the movie’s vintage, as I wouldn’t expect so much grain for a movie from 2004, and I doubt it seemed so grainy on movie screens back then.
Where did this leave the image? It’s superior to the prior Blu-rays because of its strengths, but I won’t lie: the grain became a turnoff. I don’t normally complain about grain, but it just seemed out of place here.
No extras appear on the 4K UHD disc itself, but the included Blu-ray copy comes with a bunch of bonus materials, and it provides the movie’s 2007 extended cut. Entitled Spider-Man 2.1, it runs an extra nine minutes and offers a mix of changes.
I also covered it in two prior reviews, so I won’t dig into it again here. My full discussion of it can be located via this link. To summarize, it’s fun to see but not as good as the theatrical cut, as the shorter, tighter version works best.
Why does the 4K disc not include 2.1 as well? I would assume this relates to the nature of the end product, as I suspect 2.1 was only finished for video and wouldn’t be as “4K ready” as the theatrical cut. It’s a disappointment that the 4K disc lacks both versions but not a huge deal.
On the Blu-ray, we get three separate audio commentaries: two for the theatrical version of the film and one for the extended cut. The first presents remarks from director Sam Raimi, producer Avi Arad, co-producer Grant Curtis, and actor Tobey Maguire.
They split into pairs, both of which offer separate screen-specific, running commentaries. Raimi and Maguire match for one, while Arad and Curtis sit for the other.
A mix of topics pops up here. We learn about the movie’s script issues and abandoned concepts; for example, the story originally included the Black Cat as another villain.
We hear about character and production design, stunts, locations, new elements in the sequel, approaches to the roles and their development, visual effects, trivia and general production subjects.
Inevitably, some of the usual happy talk appears, but the participants usually concentrate on meaty material. I like Maguire’s notes on his work plus the interaction with Raimi, and we hear a lot of good information about a mix of areas.
I also like Raimi’s discussion of all the antipathy generated by the Oldsmobile he uses in almost all his movies. While I can’t call it a great commentary, it works well and maintains interest.
Movie-making surprise: it sounds like Raimi never saw The Graduate, as this movie’s ending connects to that film’s finale. When Raimi and Maguire discuss it, the actor has to describe it to the director in enough detail that makes it appear Raimi doesn’t know anything about the earlier classic.
The second chat features animatronics creator Steve Johnson, puppetmaster Eric Hayden, visual effects designer John Dykstra, visual effects producer Lydia Bottegoni, visual effects supervisor Scott Stokdyk, and animation supervisor Anthony LaMolinara. As with the prior track, this one splits into two different groups.
Johnson and Hayden sit together, while the others converge for their own discussion. Both groups offer running, screen-specific commentaries that get edited together.
You don’t win a prize if you figure out that this track will concentrate on technical elements. Johnson and Hayden go over everything related to Doc Ock’s tentacles. We learn a ton about how the filmmakers brought those limbs to life.
The other group deals with everything else in the visual effects domain, so we hear a lot about computer imagery and other forms of work. I liked the technical commentary for the first movie, and this one proves equally effective. It gives us a rich examination of all the work required to bring this effects-heavy flick to life, and it does so in an entertaining way.
To accompany the film’s extended cut, we go to producer Laura Ziskin and screenwriter Alvin Sargent. Both sit together for this running, screen-specific track that covers 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.
Hero In Crisis runs 14 minutes, 59 seconds) and presents information from Maguire, Raimi, Ziskin, Curtis, Arad, Harris, Marvel editor-in-chief Joe Quesada, comics artist John Romita, co-creator Stan Lee, comics writers Jeph Loeb and J. Michael Straczynski, and actor Kirsten Dunst.
They discuss character issues, with an emphasis on all the problems that confront Peter Parker. Some decent introspection appears here, particularly when the comic book folks discuss Spidey’s history.
After this we get Interwoven, a 15-minute, 35-second piece with Dunst, Raimi, Maguire, Curtis, Ziskin, Quesada, Lee, Arad, Straczykski, Romita, Loeb, and actors Donna Murphy, Rosemary Harris, Elizabeth Banks, and Mageina Tovah. It goes through character notes about Aunt May, MJ, Betty Brant, Gwen Stacy, and Ursula.
It resembles “Hero” in the way it looks at the various roles. It’s sporadically interesting, and again, the notes about the comics are the most compelling.
The seven-minute, 39-second Blooper Reel presents the usual kinds of shots, though we get an emphasis on technical mishaps as well as the standard goofs and giggles. I usually dislike bloopers, but this segment actually offers some interesting stuff because much of it falls into the “behind the scenes” category.
Next comes a Visual Effects Breakdown. This splits into five different parts, and all together, they fill 32 minutes, 38 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.
Inside Spider-Man 2.1 runs 13 minutes, 36 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, 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.
Danny Elfman Scores Spider-Man 2 lasts five minutes, nine seconds, though the inclusion of two separate angles makes the potential viewing time twice as long. Actually, Angle One appears during both versions, whereas 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.
With VH1 Goes Inside Spider-Man, we locate a 20-minute, 14-second program that features Raimi, Dunst, Maguire, Lee, Ziskin, Curtis, Dykstra, Arad, and actors Alfred Molina and Bruce Campbell. They offer fairly fluffy notes about the first two movies, so don’t anticipate much substance, though we get some fun anecdotes along the way.
Villains of Spider-Man 3 lasts 13 minutes, 34 seconds and brings material with Raimi, Ziskin, Arad, Maguire, Curtis, executive producer Kevin Feige, costume designer James Acheson, propmaster Doug Harlocker, illustrator EJ Krisor, animatronics Bob Mano, specialty costumer Shownee Smith, and actors Thomas Haden Church, Topher Grace and James Franco.
Unsurprisingly, this one looks at the antagonists found in Spider-Man 3. It brings a good discussion of those roles but I can’t figure out why Sony included it on the Spidey 2 set and not Spidey 3.
Next we see a music video for “Ordinary” by Train. It lives up to its name with a mediocre combination of lip-synch and movie clips.
Originally available as Easter eggs on earlier releases, we find two On-Set Gags here. The first lasts one minute, 2 seconds, while the second goes for 45 seconds. Both are fun, though the first is better –and has a surprise ruined by the title given to it here.
The disc opens with an ad for Spider-Man: Homecoming. It also includes three trailers for Spider-Man 2.
Some will argue that Spider-Man 2 outdoes its predecessor. I loved the first movie too much to agree, but I also can’t find too much fault with those thoughts, as the sequel works awfully well. The 4K UHD brings excellent audio with generally good picture and a quality – though not exhaustive – set of supplements. Despite some issues, this becomes the best version of the film on the market.
Note that as of early 2021, this 4K UHD version of Spider-Man 2 appears only as part of a “3-Movie Collection”. It also comes with 4K UHD copies of Spider-Man and Spider-Man 3.
To rate this film visit the original review of SPIDER-MAN 2