Spider-Man 2 (Blu-ray) (2004)
Main Menu Animation
Theatrical Trailer-Spider-man 3, Surf's Up, & Ghost Rider
Alternate Audio-English Audio Descriptive Service
|Year Of Production||2004|
|RSDL / Flipper||Dual Layered||Cast & Crew|
|Region Coding||1,2,3,4,5,6||Directed By||Sam Raimi|
Sony Pictures Home Entertain
|Pan & Scan/Full Frame||None||
English Dolby TrueHD 5.1
Czech Dolby Digital 5.1
Polish Dolby Digital 5.1
English Descriptive Audio Dolby Digital 5.1
|Widescreen Aspect Ratio||2.40:1|
|Original Aspect Ratio||2.35:1||Miscellaneous|
|Annoying Product Placement||No|
|Action In or After Credits||No|
"With great power comes great responsibility". Director Sam Raimi, screenwriter Alvin Sargent, and the Spider-man producers, all seem to appreciate this fact. Following the runaway success, both critically and commercially, of the original film, with Spider-man 2, they have expertly crafted an exciting action film, with surprising depth. As Raimi and Sargent have chosen to focus on their characters and story, as much as the amazing VFX and action sequences, the end result is a plot-driven, roller-coaster ride, filled with action, suspense, drama, and romance.
In 2002, Spider-Man: The Motion Picture came to the big screen. With a cumulative box office gross of over $US800 million, Spider-Man happily swung in the Top 10 of all-time box-office films. Apart from the great commercial success, Spider-Man was also warmly greeted by critics and comic-book fans alike. You can find my review of Spider-Man here.
A long-time Spider-Man fan, Raimi, and star, Tobey Maguire, had both contracted for three Spider-Man films (before the script for the first one was even written), so following the success of the first film, sequels were inevitable.
Thus, the arrival of Spider-Man 2 was not a surprise. Spider-Man 2 also earning a place in the all-time Top Ten Box Office films, was also not a surprise. The great sound and visual FX featured in the sequel were not a surprise. Furthermore, the breath-taking stunts, and gripping action set pieces were not a surprise either. What was surprising about the Spider-Man 2 was the depth of the story and characters.
In Spider-Man 2, we find Peter (Tobey Maguire) at the end of his tether. He's struggling to hold on to his job, pay the rent, and pass his exams. Furthermore, he seems to be losing his Spider-man powers; And the love of his life, Mary Jane Watson (Kirsten Dunst), is engaged to another man. To make matter worse, his best friend, Harry Osborn (James Franco), blames Spider-Man for his father's death, and is seeking revenge; And Peter's Aunt May (Rosemary Harris), is about to be kicked out of her house.
A strong theme in Spider-Man 2 is choice: Consumed by insecurity and inner turmoil, the strain of being a super-hero permanently on call, is taking its toll. Peter's secret identity is a weight on his shoulders that he no longer wishes to bear. Peter must choose between what he wants to do, and what he feels he must do.
Instead of creating a stand-alone film, Raimi has opted to further explore the characters and relationships he set up in the first film. All the main characters in Spider-Man 2 have dreams: Peter dreams of an ordinary life, where he can pursue his love for Mary Jane, and his love of science and photography; Mary Jane dreams of success as an actress, and of being happily married; And Dr. Otto Octavius dreams of creating a new energy source through fusion. And this brings us to our villain . . .
Every hero is measured by their nemesis - the villain, and unlike the Hulk, Spider-Man 2 is not all soul-searching. Dr. Otto Octavius (a wonderfully restrained and subtle performance by Alfred Molina), is a good-hearted and genius scientific researcher, working for Oscorp. Peter admires Octavius, just as he did Norman Osborn, (before Osborn became into the Green Goblin). Octavius dreams of creating cheap renewable electricity through fusion. Tragically, his fusion experiment goes horribly wrong, killing Octavius' devoted wife, and leaving him with four robotic tentacles ("actuators") fused into his spinal cord. The evil AI of the actuators soon begin controlling Octavius, and the mild mannered scientist degenerates into Doc Ock, a cruel, selfish man, driven by vengeance, and hell-bent on achieving his fusion dream, no matter what the costs.
The Spider-Man 2 Blu-ray disc offers the option, via seamless branching, of watching either the original theatrical version of the film, or Spider-Man 2.1 which includes eight minutes of additional footage. The extra footage includes re-edits of some scenes which are now slightly longer and a little more in-depth. There is also a great J Jonah Jameson scene that has been added, and some enjoyable extensions to some of the action sequences, such as the battles between Spidey and Doc Ock. For example, their memorable train battle is now longer. The pacing of the new cut of Spider-Man 2 doesn’t suffer from these additional or longer scenes, indeed the movie is a lot better with the changes.
Sequels often try to top the original film and fail. But rather intelligently, Raimi has instead opted to challenge our hero with a diabolic and frightening new villain, and also challenge him with a searching, personal dilemma. This has expanded both the film’s action horizons, as well as its human drama.
As with the Spider-Man BD, the transfer for Spider-Man 2 is truly outstanding, and again of reference quality. It has been mastered in 1920 x 1080p, using AVC MPEG-4 compression. The times mentioned below refer to Spider-Man 2.1.
The High Definition transfer is presented in a widescreen aspect ratio of 2.40:1, in a native 16x9 frame. This is very close to the film's original theatrical ratio of 2.35:1.
The sharpness of the DVD's transfer was excellent, but again the high definition transfer lifts it to another level. For example, consider the fine detail in the various street signs at 19:26 and the incredible definition in the cityscape of buildings at 47:31. The black level is perfect, with true deep blacks. The shadow detail is also excellent. For example, consider the scene in the exterior street scene at night with Peter on his scooter at 10:57 and the clarity amongst the shadows of the dark alleyway at 31:41.
The colour is perfect, with a rich palette of perfectly-saturated colours. The flesh tones are accurate.
While again there is some fine film grain noticeable at times, which is common in Super-35 productions, the cause for this lies in the source material. Some tiny film artefacts can be spotted occasionally, but you have to look for them. There are no problems with the transfer in regards to MPEG, or film-to-video artefacts.
As with Spider-Man, the BD is zoned for all regions, and there are 14 subtitle streams present. The English subtitles are accurate.
This is a BD-50 (50 GB Blu-ray disc), with the feature for Spider-Man 2.1 divided into 52 chapters.
As with the original film, Spider-man 2 boasts a wonderful sound design, and the BD's audio is excellent.
Originally released theatrically in Dolby Digital, dts, and SDDS surround audio, there are four audio options on this DVD: The feature is presented English 5.1 Dolby TrueHD (48kHz/24-bit), with an English Audio Descriptive Service (for the theatrical version of Spider-Man 2 only), as well as providing the option of Czech and Polish Dolby 5.1 dubs.
There is extensive use of ADR, but the dialogue quality and audio sync are excellent throughout.
The orchestral musical score is primarily credited to Danny Elfman, and it mainly comprises a re-working of his themes from the first film. A few other composers have contributed some additional music, and a few songs also appear throughout, including the clever use of Burt Bacharach's Raindrops Keep Falling On My Head. The score and songs suit the film, and help underline its emotional intensity.
As an action film with a brilliant sound design, the surround presence and activity is again excellent. As with the original film, the rear speakers are used effectively to help carry the score and provide a lot of ambience throughout. There are a number of rear directional effects, which includes panning between speakers during the action sequences, such as when Doc Ock is grabbing the bags of money out of the bank vault and throwing some of them at Spidey at 53:33 and when Doc Ock throws a car through the cafe' window sending Peter and MJ scrambling through the flying debris at 98:25. There are also some nice touches with some more subtle rear sound effects, such as the background ambience in the high society party at 57:46 or the soft sounds of a distant thunder storm at 68:31.
The subwoofer is also utilised very effectively throughout, and the LFE track is used well for the many sound effects and explosions, as well as when Doc Ock is building his containment field in the abandoned warehouse.
|Surround Channel Use|
As with the Spider-Man BD, this second disc of the box set has virtually no extras, unless you consider the option of Version 2.1 an extra. In a bizarre move, the trailers provided as extras on this disc are the exact same trailers as found on the Spider-Man BD.
An animated menu with audio.
English Audio Descriptive Service
This is an optional audio track which narrates the on-screen action.
Spider-Man 2 is currently only available in high definition as part of a box-set. Although Spider-man 2 has no region coding (it is zoned for all regions), it will only be released on Blu-ray in Region A (North America) on October 30. In terms of content, our disc's should be identical, except the Region A gets some different language dubs for the feature.
Spider-man 2 will not be released on HD-DVD.
Note, two different Two-Disc DVD (Region 4) editions were previously released here, including the Extended 2.1 Version, both loaded with plenty of extras spread across the two discs. In R1 multiple editions of Spider-man 2 were also released, including Extended and Superbit versions.
Thus, as with Spider-man, I will not be surprised if we see an extras-loaded, stand-alone edition of Spider-man 2 released here in high definition in the future.
Spider-Man 2 is one of those rare sequels which is not only as good, but is even better than the original film that spawned it. The exciting action and effects all serve the story, and the BD boasts a sublime high definition transfer.
The video quality is excellent.
The audio quality is also excellent.
The extras are again very slim.
|DVD||Sony Playstation 3 (HDMI 1.3) with Upscaling, using HDMI output|
|Display||Panasonic High Definition 50' Plasma (127 cm). Calibrated with Video Essentials. This display device is 16x9 capable. This display device has a maximum native resolution of 1080p.|
|Audio Decoder||Built in to amplifier/receiver. Calibrated with Video Essentials.|
|Amplification||Samsung Pure Digital 6.1 AV Receiver (HDMI 1.3)|