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The Amazing Spider-Man (Blu-ray Review)

I guess I’ll just get this over right from the get go.  You may proceed to throw proverbial stones if you want.  I know I’m in the minority here.  Spider-Man 3 was my favorite flick of the Raimi trilogy.  Ouch!  Ooh!  Ah!  That hurts.  But hey!  I have my reasons for liking it, and regardless of the popular vote, I’m not backing down or conceding my position.  So needless to say, just when I was anxiously awaiting what Raimi would do with Spidey in his fourth go around, Sony pulled the plug.  A reboot was announced.  The director of 500 Days of Summer was hired to helm.  I pondered this for days.  Okay.  I lied.  I pondered this for years.  It wasn’t until I saw test footage at Comic-Con in 2011 that I was accepting and onboard the Marc Webb train.  He caught my attention with the use of CGI in recreating a sorely missed and iconic villain from the Spider-Man lore, The Lizard.

Film 

As I mentioned above, The Amazing Spider-man was directed by Marc Webb.  The screenplay comes courtesy of James Vanderbilt, Alvin Sargent and Steve Kloves.  Just like Joss Whedon to The Avengers, hiring Marc Webb was a huge risk taken by the studio, but ultimately, also like The Avengers, it paid off extremely well for Sony as it was mostly well received by the critics and went on to gross over 750 million worldwide and greenlight two sequels.  The film stars Andrew Garfield, Emma Stone, Rhys Ifan, Denis Leary, Martin Sheen and Sally Field.

Truth be told, I had a hard time scoring this one.  My heart tells me it’s only a 3.5, but my gut tells me it’s much more and I’m being too overly critical about it.  So I thought I would start this review by giving a brief synopsis of what goes down followed by what I liked and disliked about the feature.  Sound fair?

The Amazing Spider-Man is obviously the story of Peter Parker (Garfield).  Only in this outing do we learn a little more of what happened to his parents…but not too much more.  Like its predecessors, Peter Parker is an outcast high schooler.  He’s being raised by his Uncle Ben (Sheen) and Aunt Mary (Field).  There’s also a love interest.  However, instead of Mary Jane it’s Gwen Stacy (Stone) this time around.  Wrestling with who he is in society and life, Peter comes across his dad’s old briefcase and begins to question what exactly happened to his parents and who they were.  His investigation leads him directly to Oscorp and the “amazing” lab of Dr. Curt Connors, his father’s former partner in the world of science.  The two share an immediate bond as Connors fantasizes over Peter’s brilliance.  However, unbeknown to Peter, time is running out for Dr. Connors who has been tasked with finding a cure for the ailing Norman Osbourne (whom we never see).  Threatened with the loss of his job, lab and equipment, Dr. Connors moves quickly to enact human trials of his reptile serum…using his own body while around the same time Peter is bitten by an “amazing” spider.  I don’t think you need me to tell you what happens next.  I guess you can say their alter-egos clash almost exactly like they do with the demented Green Goblin and Spidey in Raimi’s first outing.  The only real mystery here is does Spidey get the girl in the end and does Doc Connors live or die.  If you haven’t seen it yet, I won’t spoil it for you.  Of course, you also have the other expected beats like Uncle Ben’s unavoidable death, Peter and Doc Connors realizing and experimenting with their new powers and a teenage romance complete with an angst police officer father played by Rescue Me’s Denis Leary.

I guess my beefs with this film actually go as far back as the Raimi films too.  Here’s my number one.  How many times must Spider-Man take his mask off?  Yes!  I know!  There’s a human underneath the mask.  Everyone knows that.  It’s just sad how many times this onscreen superhero risks his identity being blown by taking his mask off every opportunity that presents itself just to show the audience that he is a human.  Get what I’m saying?  And how many times must I be forced to watch over and over the curse of the tragic villain?  As a screenwriter I realize the importance of deep character development, especially in the antagonist, but what a breath of fresh air it would be to see a villain in a Spider-Man movie with no moral conscious who is hell bent on just destroying everything in his path (think anarchy).  Oh wait!  We did see such a “venomous” glimpse of a villain like that in Raimi’s Spider-Man 3.  I’m so sick of these over-the-top alter-ego villains that by the time the movie’s over they just want to be your friend and are forever sorry.  What happened to the days of villains that remain forever hateful?  I realize the tragedy of Doc Connors is a way for the audience to sympathize and care for the antagonist, but this has all been played out before in Raimi’s previous three installments.  Let’s move on.  Bring in a real baddie!

The only other thing I didn’t care for were the moments when The Lizard talked.  I also realize that the filmmakers were only trying to humanize him, but for crying out loud…the rest of his body looks like a lizard and yet he still has a human-like face.  I applauded the use of CGI when I first learned about him at Comic-Con, but I can’t help laughing every time I saw The Lizard talk during my recent Blu-ray viewing of this film.  I’m not sure what could have been done differently here, but it’s definitely something that continues to irk me about the flick when I reflect upon it.  And let’s spend a moment on that post credit scene.  All I will say is WTF.  I hope they explain that one day.  When you stump the nerds on Wikipedia, you have a lot of explaining to do, Mr. Webb.

So let’s move onto my likes.  Shall we?  The story was good.  Yes it was a love story, much like Raimi’s three films, but also at the heart of it were characters we really cared about.  I thought Sheen and Field were outstanding as Peter’s aunt and uncle.  The dynamics played effectively well between those three characters.  While not a huge Emma Stone fan, I felt she did a decent job, as well as her onscreen father, Denis Leary.  Rhys Ifan was the perfect choice for Doc Connors.  He brilliantly executed that mentor relationship with Peter and the alter-ego he portrayed as The Lizard (minus my above comments which weren’t his fault at all).  The movie felt a tad long and I really could have used a little more of Peter designing his costume and experimenting with his powers, but for the most part if you like Raimi’s first go around with the webslinger, there’s nothing not to love here.  I’m torn between who I like more in the role of Peter Parker, but after seeing it a second time, I’m leaning more towards Garfield.  I think he just has that right look.  But that’s just me.  So let’s spend some more time together and take a closer look at what makes this Blu-ray package a set to own.  We all know the movie’s a good time, but how are the rest of the Blu-ray specs?  Read on to find out!

Video 

The Amazing Spider-Man features an “amazing” 1080p MPEG-4 AVC transfer presented in a 2.40:1 widescreen aspect ratio.  Who says there’s no such thing as perfection.  Jeff Bridges in Tron: Legacy doesn’t know what he’s talking about.  You looking for perfection?  Then look no further than here.  Three words!  Attention to detail.  That’s all I have to say here.  Everything is intricately and intimately defined in the textures of the clothing (including Spidey’s new trunks), skin and pores, hair follicles and the geography and city landscapes that our favorite webslinger swings through.  While the colors all seem accurate (what I mean by this is they are not overly bright or excessively dull), what impresses me most are the deep black levels….inky black I should say.  Like Venom!  You can definitely hide in the shadows here.  The nighttime scenes look absolutely spectacular.  Even the CGI is all crisp and sharp.  There is no noise or any other unwanted artifacts plaguing the picture.  This is the best Spider-Man has ever looked in HD.  Say what you want about this film versus the Sam Raimi ones.  There’s no denying that fact.

Audio 

The Amazing Spider-Man swings onto the Blu-ray format with a superhero DTS-HD MA 5.1 lossless soundtrack.  This is one of those surround tracks that completely immerses the viewer from the smallest of nuances to the biggest of booms in accurate dimensional reality.  Given this is one of Sony’s biggest flagship titles, I would think it would come as no surprise that these audio and video sections were as beefed and pumped up as humanly possible.  You won’t find anything to complain about here.  The dialogue is evenly placed in the middle, except where directionally is required, and remarkably clear throughout.  The action scenes, as you would expect, are all robust, powerful and packing a punch thanks to this track’s generous LTE channel.  What more can I say?  From James Horner’s score to the train wreck predicaments Spider-Man seems to find himself frequently involved in, everything is faithfully reproduced and in check here within the audio department.

Extras 

The Blu-ray/DVD Combo Pack of The Amazing Spider-Man comes with three discs (2 Blu-ray and 1 DVD) and a download code for an UltraViolet digital copy of the feature film.  There’s quite an incredible wealth of material presented and found here so instead of just listing everything like I usually do I thought it would be advantageous to break it down by disc.  Sound good?  I knew you would agree.  Come on!  Let’s get swinging!

Disc One (Blu-ray):

This first Blu-ray disc contains the feature film in addition to the below goodies.

  • Audio Commentary: This informative commentary includes Director Marc Webb and Producers Avi Arad and Matt Tolmach.  They talk about everything Spider-Man from the film’s quick reboot to the central narrative theme.  If you love the film or even Spider-Man in general, then definitely give this one a play.  You can’t go wrong here.  There are worth noting optional English, Chinese Traditional, Korean, Portuguese, Spanish and Thai subtitles.
  • Second Screen Experience – This is an app designed for the iPad or Sony tablet devices (S and Xperia) that syncs  the film as it plays in “Timeline” mode and features “Production” mode allowing you to “sling” content from your tablets to the big screen. Please note that your Blu-ray player must connect wirelessly with the device.  Content includes HD interviews, storyboards, concept art, pre-visualization sequences, stunt rehearsals and more.
  • What is The Amazing Spider-Man Second Screen Experience? (HD, 1:04): This is a quick advertisement and guide for using the “Second Screen Experience.”

Disc Two (Blu-ray):

The second Blu-ray disc in this set contains over 90 minutes of behind-the-scenes documentaries that include the following.

  • Rite of Passage: The Amazing Spider-Man Reborn (HD, 1:49:49): This is a massive 7-part  documentary that chronicles bringing the new version of Spider-Man to the big screen.  Each segment is listed below.

○      In The Drawing Board: Development and Direction (13:09) – This one kind of finds the cast and crew spinning wheels on the rebirth of the franchise and its new direction.

○      Friends and Enemies: Casting (15:19) – This one looks at assembling the talented cast and included some test clips.

○      Second Skins: Spidey Suit and The Lizard (11:23) – This one looks at the new Spidey costume and the prosthetics used to mold the villain.

○      Spidey Goes West: Production – Los Angeles (16:37) – This one looks at the first day of shooting and basically everything stunts.

○      Safe Haven: Production – Sony Studios (15:27) – This one examines the many action scenes filmed and brought to life within the walls of Sony Studios.

○      Bright Tights, Big City: Production – New York (9:32) – This one focuses solely on the scenes filmed in “The Big Apple.”

○      The Greatest Responsibility – Post Production and Release (28:50) – This one takes a closer look at the film’s editing process, the digital effects utilized, the score and more.

  • Deleted Scenes (HD, 16:50): There are 11 deleted scenes you can find here: “A Different Fate,” “Connors’ Condolences,” “Tracking Connors,” “Hacking Connors,” “Going Away,” “Top To Bottom: Part 1,” “Top to Bottom: Part 2,” “Bad Lizard,” “Help Me,” “All The Power You Feel” and “Lost Something.”
  •  Stunt Rehearsals (HD, 11:52) – This one contains some raw footage of stunt preparations in various different scenes.
  • Pre-Visualization (HD, 39:08) – This one is both cool and robust.  This special feature showcases 16 storyboards and animated visualization sequences set to music for most of the film’s important scenes.
  • Developing The Amazing Spider-Man Video Game (HD, 3:30) – If you have any interest in the film’s tie-in game, then here’s your chance to preview it with the developers.
  • Image Progression Reels (HD) – This one takes a detailed look at all digital scenes and how they looked and progressed into the film’s final product.
  • The Oscorp Archives Production Art Gallery (HD) – There are three categories of interactive content art to peruse through here.

Disc Three (DVD):

The third disc in this set is a DVD  that includes the feature film, as well as stunt rehearsals and deleted scenes, The Oscorp Archives, an image gallery featuring production art stills and the audio commentary mentioned above.

Final 

Well, if you do the math, the final score is an accurate representation of the various departments we grade against here.  It’s up to you to decide whether Marc Webb’s first outing is better than Raimi’s, but there’s no denying the powerful punch that this Blu-ray package offers high-def customers.  With reference video, audio and gobs of bonus features, this one belongs in any comic book fan’s collection.  Don;t even think about it.  Act now!  The Amazing Spider-Man swings onto Blu-ray Friday, November 9th, but you can pre-order your copy now by clicking here and make sure it’s waiting on your doorstep when you get home from work that day.  And remember…with great power comes great responsibility.  It’s your civic duty to get this!

 

 

 

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Owner/Writer/Reviewer/Editor, Dreamer, Producer, Agent of Love, Film Lover, Writer of Screenplays and a Devoted Apostle to all things Ford Mustangs (the real ones with V8's!). Some of my favorite films include FIGHT CLUB, MOULIN ROUGE, THE DARK KNIGHT, STAR WARS alongside television shows such as SEINFELD, 24, SANFORD & SON and even the often loathed in the geek community BIG BANG THEORY. Outside of my three lives I live I also enjoy spending time with my girlfriend and our three girls (of the furry kind).

3 Responses to “The Amazing Spider-Man (Blu-ray Review)”


  1. Aaron Neuwirth

    You almost lost me with that first sentence Brian ;), but great review. This looks like a solid set for sure!

  2. Gerard Iribe

    Not me. He lost me with the praise for Spiderman 3. Just thinking about it makes me want to hit something.

  3. Gregg

    Spider-Man 3 was cool because we finally got to see black-suit Spidey. It was my favorite of the Raimi trilogy as well. Despite the distaste from many toward that film, it’s still better than any Marvel film involving Nicholas Cage. Ghost Rider 2; shite. Ghost Rider 1; shite. Four dogs a little too for The Amazing Spider-Man, btw.