Spider-Man 2.1 (DVD Double Set)
Picture: B- Sound: B- Extras: B- Film: B-
that the Sam Raimi Spider-Man films have been huge hits and people have been at
least satisfied enough by them to see more films and more of them. The question is, in the whole cannon of
Spider-man on film, how do they compare.
That is the odd side question that surfaces when watching Spider-Man 2.1, a version of the first
Spidey sequel that ads 8 minutes to the original theatrical release. It is interesting and a nice change of pace,
but does not make it a better film.
this is better than Spidey Super Stories on Electric
Company because that was for educational fun and is better than the
Nicholas Hammond TV Spidey series from the late 1970s since they have a better
director, budgets and the ever-fetishized technology. It is the best live-action Spidey to date
because the material simply never got this kind of respect before, though many
fans would argue that the 1967 animated series still has a few things on these
big budget films and more than any of the later animated shows, but the Raimi
films have been ambitious enough and they can build nicely on what they have
done, which is why this is arriving a few weeks before the third film.
spending time on his origins and showing his world in the first film, Peter
Parker (Tobey Maguire) has clearly fallen for Mary Jane (Kristen Dunst) but
cannot share his secret identity yet.
Besides problems still lingering from the Goblin affair from the
previous film, a likable, smart professor friend (Alfred Molina) is about to
become Dr. Octopus when the artificial intelligence of his mechanical
extensions go haywire.
That is a
nice twist and like the Goblin from the last film, gives a more metallic,
hardcore technological twist to the villain.
That matches Raimi’s approach, but I sometimes feel there is an
interesting conflict in these films between the Raimi style and Marvel Comics
style, which have contradictory points that make them cohere in odd ways, making
these films more interesting that critics and film theorists might have first
idea of a hero was more like the rough world of Darkman, a project that kept to his Evil Dead roots and can be found in most of his films subtly
punctuates the Spidey films. Part of
this comes from the fact that the films are big productions that have more to
do with the Action genre since the 1980s than the Raimi style or that of great
Action/Horror films from the 1960s and 1970s that have much more to do with
Marvel Comics than mall movies.
series tries to have it both ways and has gotten away with this so far, but the
biggest problem with this sequel in either cut is the dragging out of the
origins form the first film that everyone who is a fan already knows. It just becomes a matter of wanting and
waiting to see them unravel in live action.
That can even be fun, but does not a whole film make. Fortunately, Molina is a pleasant surprise as
Ock, the scientist tragically done in by his own genius. Previously, he was a character who laughed
like The Penguin and fought Spidey often, but this new welcome layer to the
character works and gives a skilled character actor like Molina some fine
fight sequences can be imaginative and then comes the big surprise. After Spidey has almost killed himself to
stop a runaway subway train, the unknown and much maligned Spidey is grabbed by
the passengers to help him back in a scene that is nothing short of remarkable. It becomes the payoff of the series so far
that the hero is reveled as human and connects with those around him in a way
that poverty, circumstance, tabloid media and hate have prevented.
serves as a connect between hero and audience through the big budget, hype,
advertising, merchandising and effects, as the Spidey the fans have put their
money on all this time. The screen
audience/subway passengers confirm that what we believe is true and then it
goes back to begin the action film intended.
It is, however, the most priceless moment in the series yet and shows
its heart and soul in a way that is a step after Spielberg’s films that show a
sort of progress in such matters.
course, it ends just enough to complete the film, but the soap opera
lack-of-closure leaves the next film as the next step and we will see that soon
enough. This film is worth seeing again
with the extra minutes and extras, but it holds up in odd ways that sometimes
succeed and sometimes do not. Calling it
2.1 almost makes it sound like the
theatrical cut is replaceable or obsolete, but that is not the case. It just offers a little more before that next
big party film.
anamorphically enhanced 2.35 X 1 image was shot in Super 35mm by Bill Pope, A.S.C., and looks good for
the format. However, there are some
color limits and obvious digital work despite the immense amount of effort and
high budget this film has. I’ll be
curious to see if the Blu-ray shows these CG graphics to better effect. The Dolby Digital 5.1 mix is not bad, but
limited by compression and no match for the DTS in theaters or on any DVD. The Blu-ray will likely have PCM 5.1, but the
film was made for 8-track Sony Dynamic Digital Sound presentations and those
tracks were used for the IMAX presentation, so it might be a while before we
get a definitive home mix. Danny
Elfman’s score is good, but could be much better and less predictable.
include feature length audio commentary by producer Laura Ziskin & writer Alvin
Sargent, Sneak Peek of Spider-Man 3,
introduction with Avi Arad and Grant Curtis, Spidey Sense 2.1 factoid trivia
tack with all-new branched video pieces that show up on screen as you watch the
film, a multi-angle feature on Elfman’s score, VFX breakdown, With Great Effort Comes Great Recognition
featurette, Inside 2.1 featurette on
the new cut, Viewfinders: The Art of
Storyboarding, Activision “3” game exclusive trailer & DVD-ROM link to
- Nicholas Sheffo