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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.

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:
Aspect Ratio: 2.40:1
Audio:
English Dolby TrueHD 5.1
French Dolby Digital 5.1
Spanish Dolby Digital 5.1
Subtitles:
English
French
Spanish
Portuguese
Korean
Chinese
Arabic
Closed-captioned
Supplements Subtitles:
None

Runtime: 127 min. (theatrical cut) / 136 min. (Spider-Man 2.1)
Price: $26.99
Release Date: 11/16/2010

Bonus:
• Both Theatrical and Extended Cuts of Film
• Previews


PURCHASE @ AMAZON.COM

EQUIPMENT
Panasonic 50" TH-50PZ77U 1080p Plasma Monitor; Sony STR-DG1200 7.1 Channel Receiver; Panasonic DMP-BD60K Blu-Ray Player using HDMI outputs; Michael Green Revolution Cinema 6i Speakers (all five); Kenwood 1050SW 150-watt Subwoofer.

RELATED REVIEWS


Spider-Man 2 [Blu-Ray] (2004)

Reviewed by Colin Jacobson (April 11, 2012)

For me, 2002’s smash hit Spider-Man provided a nearly-perfect comic book movie. Would its 2004 sequel prove as effective? Not quite, but it fared pretty darned well on its own.

Set about two years after the first movie, Peter Parker (Tobey Maguire) finds it hard to balance his “normal” life and his web-swinging ways as Spider-Man. He always runs late at his pizza delivery job, and that gets him fired. Peter usually earns money with the photos of Spidey he sells to the Daily Bugle. Since editor J. Jonah Jameson (JK Simmons) uses these to turn the city against Spidey, Peter doesn’t want to give him more Spidey photos, but his wallet forces him to do so.

In addition to Peter’s two jobs, he tries to maintain life as a college student. He botches this as well, for he consistently misses classes and suffers from rapidly dropping grades. Peter also lacks much of a social life, and we’re reminded of this when he comes to a surprise birthday party thrown by his Aunt May (Rosemary Harris) and attended by pals Mary Jane Watson (Kirsten Dunst) and Harry Osborn (James Franco).

This encounter helps Peter in one way. Harry’s business works with scientist Dr. Otto Octavius (Alfred Molina), the subject of a paper Peter must write. Harry offers to introduce the two. A minor wedge remains between the friends, however, since Harry blames Spidey for his dad’s death, and he thinks Peter and the hero are buddies. This doesn’t stop Harry from encouraging Peter to go after longtime crush MJ, who also pines for Parker. Our hero forsook MJ romantically in the first movie to protect, and he continues to stand by that decision here.

Peter doesn’t feel all that secure in his choice, though, especially when he learns that MJ has a new boyfriend. He promises to come see her new play, but other problems abound, such as his continued inability to pay his rent on time. Peter feels bothered by his aunt’s economic woes as well.

Soon Harry introduces Peter to Otto, and we learn about his big project. The Doctor works on a “design to initiate and sustain fusion” which he describes as a “perpetual sun” to offer a terrific source of energy. Peter displays some concerns that woes may develop and cause a negative reaction, but he demonstrates faith in his scientific idol and potential mentor.

A few factors lead Pete to a crossroads. Due to web-swinging duties, he misses MJ’s play, and that leads to her disappointment and irritation. In addition, Pete starts to lose control of his super abilities. For example, his web-shooters fail during one excursion.

In the midst of this, Pete attends the demonstration of Octavius’s new power source. To operate it, the Doctor utilizes a super-intelligent four-armed mechanical device controlled with brain waves. The reaction starts well but soon deteriorates. Otto refuses to shut down the power since he believes it’ll stabilize, but it doesn’t. Matters worsen, and the effects lead to both the death of his wife Rosalie (Donna Murphy) and the fusion of the extra arms to Otto’s body. Doctors try to remove them, but a chip that inhibits their artificial intelligence breaks and the limbs act on their own to sustain their attachment to Octavius.

The rest of the movie follows a few paths. We see “Doctor Octopus” - as christened by the folks at the Bugle - try to deal with his new abilities. He loathes the damage caused by the arms but he can’t resist them. They convince him to try to reclaim his research and prove his ideas to be correct. This sends him into supervillain territory, as he uses whatever means necessary to complete his research.

In addition, Pete tries to cope with the negative pressures of being Spider-Man. His heroic role causes him little but grief, a fact that comes to a point as he photographs a reception attended by both Harry and MJ. She lets him know how much he disappointed her and also gets engaged to astronaut John Jameson (Daniel Gillies). Harry also tells off his pal due to a series of perceived transgressions. When Pete’s Spidey powers continue to falter, he throws in the towel and decides to give up his superheroic ways. The film follows his decision and its ramifications along with the actions of Doc Ock.

Often when you tell someone you saw a particular movie, the first question they ask is “Did you like it?” In the case of Spider-Man 2, the answer comes back an unequivocal “yes, I liked it a lot”. When the movie involved is a sequel, the next question becomes “Was it as good as the prior one?” In the case of Spider-Man 2, the answer comes back, “no, it wasn’t that good.”

But don’t take that as a slam, for I regarded Spider-Man as a nearly perfect comic book movie. The sequel mostly prospers but I think it suffers from a few more flaws.

First off, the flick’s pacing came across as a bit scattershot. Ock goes absent from the story for substantial stretches and director Sam Raimi doesn’t balance different threads well. It feels like he can only concentrate on one element at a time. Either we see what happens with Ock or we address Peter’s self-confidence crisis, and rarely the twain shall meet. When Ock or MJ finally pop up, we get a mild shock, as in “oh yeah – I forgot about them!”

I also think that Spidey 2 borrows a little too liberally from the plot of Superman 2. In that flick, Supes attempts to give up his superlife to have a supergood time with superhot Lois, his dream woman. The concept behind Peter’s quitting the hero biz remains essentially the same, though as the film’s first act relentlessly belabors, many other factors contribute.

As for all that belaboring, some may – and will – interpret those sequences as a flaw. While the first flick took a while to get to any Spider-action, it made sense that way; it needed to go through character set-ups and Spidey’s origins.

With those bits firmly out of the way from last time, one may expect to hop right into battle in Spidey 2. That doesn’t happen. A couple of perfunctory action bits pop up in the first act, but they feel somewhat gratuitous. It’s as though the filmmakers don’t really want them but realize that a film with the name “Spider-Man” in the title should probably feature some shots of Spider-Man before it’s halfway finished.

Whatever the case, Peter’s story heavily dominates the first act and beyond, which may frustrate some viewers. Not me, however, as I rather like the look at the reality of being a superhero. Spider-Man and Batman have always been my two favorite costumed crusaders, and both present many similarities, especially due to the origins of their decisions to fight crime. Batman seemed more motivated by revenge, whereas guilt prompted Peter Parker’s transformation. Nonetheless, violent deaths remained at the core of their choices.

One major difference between the two relates to bankroll. The ultra-wealthy Bruce Wayne can finance all the gadgets he wants and doesn’t ever have to fret about real life. We get the feeling Bruce maintains a semblance of a normal life simply to make sure he covers up his secret identity, whereas Peter Parker enjoys none of those privileges.

Spidey 2 revels in that fact, as the first act demonstrates all of the degradation that comes with his situation. Not only does Peter feel he can’t be with the woman he loves due to potential threats, but his incessant crime fighting makes him late for work, behind in his schoolwork, and absent from the lives of his friends and family. More so than any other flick of this sort I can recall, Spidey 2 lets us know the nuisance and chore elements of being a superhero. Indeed, director Sam Raimi truly delights in these moments; he clearly loves showing us that Spider-Man’s life isn’t a cakewalk.

The film also isn’t afraid to let us see how much Peter enjoys his life when he’s free of his superheroic burden. Granted, he still feels occasional pangs of concern, but he lets those slip by pretty quickly as he realizes that you can’t save them all. In a telling move, only when matters become personal does Peter really reinvest himself into his heroic responsibilities.

All of these moments of personal drama shouldn’t make you think this is Hamlet. Spider-Man 2 remains a comic book movie, and even with all of the soul-searching, it never forgets that. The film does take its characters and story seriously, but it still connects with a great sense of fun and adventure. Raimi’s quirky humor always shows through and makes sure that the comic book’s comedic bent pops up here as well. Peter Parker really should be a pathetic, sad character, but both comic and movie allow him to be amusingly pitiful.

The film goes at its own pace, which I regard as a good thing. It doesn’t seem in a hurry to dazzle us with the action, though it still displays a terrific sense of wonder about things. For example, take the early scene in which Spidey uses a web to stop a police car from hitting a crowd. Segments like this show us just how amazing Spidey’s feats are, and many more of those moments come up throughout the flick.

Spider-Man 2 remains a film with a heart. The characters give it its heft and soul, and the actors bring them to life well. I don’t think Doc Ock is as interesting as the first flick’s Green Goblin, but he’s also not quite as showy a character. Molina helps make him nicely three-dimensional. The other leads continue to do well. I still really like Maguire as Peter/Spidey. I’ve read the occasional complaint about him, but I honestly can’t imagine anyone better in the role.

And I find it hard to imagine a better comic book movie series than Spider-Man. The current Batman series might be better – it’s hard to think of any superhero flick that tops The Dark Knight - but the Spidey films are awfully good. Spidey 2 offers top-notch entertainment.


The Blu-ray Grades: Picture A-/ Audio A-/ Bonus D

Spider-Man 2 appears in an aspect ratio of approximately 2.40:1 on this Blu-ray Disc. Virtually no issues occurred during this terrific presentation.

Sharpness worked well. The movie consistently displayed solid delineation, as even the widest shots boasted solid clarity and definition. No issues with edge enhancement or shimmering occurred, and edge enhancement was absent. Source flaws were also a non-issue, as the flick lacked obvious defects. It also toned down the heavy grain of the first movie; this time grain seemed within normal limits.

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. Because the Blu-ray for Spider-Man offered mediocre visuals, I feared Spidey 2 would also disappoint, but it didn’t; this was a terrific transfer.

I also felt very pleased with the Dolby TrueHD 5.1 soundtrack of Spider-Man 2. 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, but the mix used the speakers 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 the picture and audio of the Blu-Ray compare to those of the DVD? That depends somewhat on which version of the DVD you examine. Columbia released three different Spider-Man 2 DVDs: the original 2004 release, the 2005 Superbit, and the 2007 “Spider-Man 2.1 extended cut. The Superbit and 2.1 versions offered the best presentations, as they tightened up the picture.

Which the Blu-ray did even more. The audio was bolder and more dynamic, while visuals were more distinctive and vivid. This became a good upgrade over the DVDs.

Unfortunately, the Blu-Ray of Spider-Man 2 lacks any supplements - essentially. In addition to trailers for Ghost Rider and Surf’s Up, we do get the option to view either the 127-minute theatrical cut or the 136-minute Spider-Man 2.1 edition. If you don’t want to learn that version’s 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 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.

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. It presents a lively, vivid, funny, dramatic and touching experience that continues the series brilliantly. The Blu-ray’s picture quality is consistently top-notch, and it also boasts excellent audio. The disc falters only in terms of its virtually non-existent extras. Despite that weakness, the Blu-ray presents the film at its best and is a good upgrade over the various DVDs in terms of movie presentation.

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

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Review Archive:  # | A-C | D-F | G-I | J-L | M-O | P-R | S-U | V-Z | Viewer Ratings | Main