Spider-Man 2.1 – DVD Review

Available at Amazon.com

Director

Sam Raimi

Cast

Tobey Maguire Peter Parker/Spider-Man
Alfred Molina Dr. Otto Octavius/Dr. Octopus
Kirsten Dunst Mary Jane Watson
James Franco Harry Osborne
Rosemary Harris Aunt May
J.K. Simmons J. Jonah Jameson

DVD Release Date: April 17, 2007
Rating: PG-13
Running Time: 136 Minutes

The Movie

Peter Parker is a young man who is struggling with all the things that come along with being a twenty-something-year-old. Trying to make a successful life in a career. Trying to make enough money to survive, while trying to make that successful career. Trying to find that one true love of your life and hope she loves you back. But for Peter also comes a great responsibility; the responsibility of making sure the people of New York are safe and that evil does not deter its inhabitants. For Peter Parker is Spider-Man.

Keeping his identity secret from everyone and trying to live a normal life is taking its toll on Peter, and it proves to be too much. His best friend Harry (James Franco), his father Norman, also known as the Green Goblin, died in battle with Spider-Man and Harry wants revenge on the masked hero. This promotes a problem: how can Peter continue his great relationship with Harry while his best friend wants to kill his alter-ego?

Peter also has won the heart of his longtime love Mary Jane Watson (Kirsten Dunst), but he knows that he can’t be with her because his web-slining lifestyle would keep her in constant danger. This causes great conflict between them both and he may end up losing her forever. Throw in the guilt he constantly feels for feeling responsible for his Uncle’s death and the pain it caused his Aunt May, and Peter is close to losing it on many occasions.

But with darkness is also light, as Harry is sponsoring the work of a great scientist by the name of Dr. Otto Octavius (Alfred Molina). Octavius is a brilliant man who may have found the ultimate energy source, and now has the help of Harry to make his experimentation come to life. He also has a huge fan in one Peter Parker who gets to meet his idol during a demonstration. Sharing stories of science and love, the two quickly become close and know they have found a little of themselves in each other. All seems to be going a little bit easier in Peter’s life and he begins to see that maybe he doesn’t need to be Spider-Man after all and can devote his life to being just a normal guy.

But those feelings of security in being himself don’t last long as on the day Dr. Ocatvius is to present his new invention, things go horribly wrong. It doesn’t work as it should and, as a result, mechanisms from his machine – to be frank, six bionic metal arms – are molded to his body and have minds of their own. They persuade him to take control of his life again and do things as he would want them to be done; rebuild the invention and make it work as he knows his brilliance can. But he needs money so that he can begin construction. He needs a special element and Harry Osborne has it, but Harry wants something in return. Harry wants Spider-Man.

Peter Parker must don the mask again and save the people from destruction at the hands of the newly named Dr. Octopus. But he must also make sure his own life does not get taken in the process.

Here we have the same film that probably 95% of you have already seen and more then likely more then once. But there are eight extra minutes in this version that the hardcore fans of the franchise will definitely notice. Not much extra action is added with the new footage, but there are a good number of extended scenes and dialogue that actually add to the story itself. The film was already fantastic in that it told a great story, combined it with extraordinary action, and fit it all into a two-hour time span.

But with this extra footage, there are some things that we see that during the viewing of the first version we only assumed. Mary Jane’s relationship with John Jameson, Jonah’s son, is brought into much more detail here instead of just seeing him after he proposed and then catching a glimpse of him like two more times during the whole film. Perhaps the best part, though, is seeing the kinder, gentler side of Harry. Harry and Peter have a bit of a heart-to-heart conversation in some of the new footage that shows Harry isn’t always a revenge-driven psychopath. Harry still has a soul inside of him that wants his father back and redemption that is not vengeance.

Little plot holes that you never even realized are patched with moments that shouldn’t have been left on the cutting room floor to begin with. In an age where we are inundated with unrated and extended cuts, I don’t think these eight minutes really would have killed anybody in the theatres. I am happy though that we were given this extended cut to see scenes that make Spider-Man 2 that much better.

The Video

The film is shown in 2.40:1 Anamorphic Widescreen and it looks beautiful. This film always has looked fantastic and the transfer to DVD was no different then from on the big screen in theatres. There are just no flaws to it whatsoever and it looks as if the comic book has literally come to life out of the pages.

The Audio

The film is heard in Dolby Digital 5.1 and sounds just like it did when in theaters; it’s just as much a pleasure to listen to it at home. The surround sound is used in absolute perfection and you can hear every single noise, from the hustle and bustle, the big city has to offer. Not to mention the “THWIP” of Spidey’s web and the clanking of Doc Ock’s metal arms clambering up a concrete wall. Danny Elfman’s score is the finishing touch that makes Spider-Man 2 a total joy to listen to.

Special Features

Audio Commentary – Producer Laura Ziskin and Screenwriter Alvin Sargent watch the film with you and give their thoughts and notes on how it was making the film. I beg of you not to watch the film with this commentary. Half the time they aren’t even saying anything and you’re just watching the film again like you already have done. Sargent offers nothing worthy of listening to and a lot of the time Ziskin sounds like she doesn’t know what she’s talking about. Then there’s her ever so great comments such as “Jameson’s fun to write, huh?” And his great comeback of “Yeah.”

Spidey Sense – It’s Spider-Man meets VH1’s “Pop-Up Video.” There are not-so-little bubbles that appear on screen throughout the entire film giving quotes, trivia, and backstage notes on different things and actors in the film. The only problem with this is that unless you plan on watching the film for a third time (one regular, one with commentary, and now this) right away, then I doubt you’ll get to this special feature for a long time.

Sneak Peek: Spider-Man 3 – Wow this was extremely short (less than three minutes) and offers less then what the trailer gives us. Here the trailer is virtually broken down into short snippets while the cast gives their feelings on Peter Parker and his new battles in the third film.

Inside 2.1 Featurette – Some of the crew give interviews detailing the added scenes brought into the 2.1 version of the film. Some insight is given as to why exactly they are there or were left out, but nothing to really let you learn too much other then what you already know by watching them.

Multi-Angle: Danny Elfman’s Score – One of my favorite composers ever Danny Elfman gives his two cents into a few of the pieces he and the orchestra put together for the film. The cool thing here is that you can watch this special feature from different angles. At times there are even screen small screens for you to look at: one of Elfman speaking, the orchestra playing in another, and then of the scene from the film for which the musical piece was written. A very cool feature that is well worth a watch.

“With Great Effort Comes Great Recognition” Featurette – A short feature with interviews from more of the crew detailing what Oscars and awards the film won. Not much here and not too interesting either.

VFX Breakdown – This is an excellent special feature that can be played in five separate parts or in one whole piece adding up to a little over thirty minutes. And it is exactly what it says it is, a breakdown of the visual effects in the film. Everything from the train fight scene to Doctor Octopus himself to Spidey’s web-swinging is talked about in great detail and is broken down as to exactly how things were to be done and improved upon from the first film. Our good friend the Green Goblin even makes a nice appearance. The amount of detail the special effects team show us is not even 1% of the work they had to actually do, and even this is too much to take in.

TrailersSpider-Man 3 and Spider-Man 3: The Game Trailer

The Inside Pulse

You can’t go wrong with picking up this DVD if you are looking for a good film to watch. Spider-Man 2 is an excellent film from the start and adding the extra footage made it all that much better. The problem with this DVD happens to be the special features. If there hadn’t been one DVD released already, then I would call this one perfect because it delivers everywhere it should. But considering it has significantly less features then the first version and they aren’t even as good, then points have to be taken away. If you’ve never picked up the first DVD and don’t care much about the special features, snag this copy. If you already have the first one and really want to have the extra footage, you might as well shell out the bucks. Either way I think this DVD will fly off the shelves, but it just excels in one aspect and sadly disappoints in another.

The DVD Lounge’s Ratings for Spider-Man 2.1
CATEGORY
RATING
(OUT OF 10)
THE MOVIE

9
THE VIDEO

10
THE AUDIO

10
THE EXTRAS

6
REPLAY VALUE

8
OVERALL
7
(NOT AN AVERAGE)