Spider-Man (Blu-ray)

January 28, 2012 9 Min Read

Review by: Matt Brighton

Plot: What’s it about?

I had taken off work a bit early that day to go see Spider-Man around 11 AM. The line was around the corner and I thought that this might indicate something. Six weeks and $400 million dollars later, it seems that I was right. Spider-Man has finally reached the silver screen (and now the “big” small screen via Blu-ray) and what are we in for? For those non-comic book lovers out there, let me educate you a little bit (I used to read comics until about ten years ago and while a lot has changed, the basis behind this movie is something that I know about). Spidey (as he’ll affectionately be called form here on out) was the brainchild of one Stan Lee. Mr. Lee, aside from appearing in Mallrats a few years ago, has really hit the gold mine with the success of this film and X-Men (next Summer’s X-Men 2 will likely be a major hit as well). Stan Lee developed a comic book character unlike any that had been invented before. Sure, there was Superman, but he was from another planet and was indestructible. Spidey was a normal teenage kid with problems like everyone has at that age. He was an outcast, smart and not well-liked by others. Bitten by a radioactive spider, he now had super-strength, the ability to spin webs (though the movie faults here, as the comic book Spidey had to mix his own formula and his webs were a product of a mechanical device) and had an eerie sense of when something was about to happen. But movies are a work of fiction and Director Sam Raimi was a loyal devotee of the series. This is his vision and here is Spider-Man…

Peter Parker (Tobey Maguire) is a regular teenage kid. He lusts after his next door neighbor, Mary Jane Watson (Kirsten Dunst) and has problems at school. He’s smart, average-looking and interested in science. When it comes to a social life, he doesn’t really seem to have one. His only real “friend” is Harry Osborne (James Franco) who is the son of Norman Osborne (Willem Defoe), who turns out to be Spidey’s arch nemesis – The Green Goblin. On a field trip, Peter is bitten by a spider that gives him all of the above mentioned powers. Not knowing what to do with them, he decides to use his powers to help people. The irony here is that no matter how hard he tries, he’s still neglected by the public and no one really knows what to think of him. His identity is secret and as his infatuation for Mary Jane grows, he still can’t tell her (or anyone else) that he’s the guy that everyone else is talking about! He has graduated from school and gets a freelance job as a photographer for the Daily Bugle. Obviously we know that Peter Parker and Spidey are one and the same, so he turns this into his advantage by becoming “Spider-Man’s official photographer”. This not only provides a source of revenue for Peter, but adds to his mystique as well. But it’s not long before an experiment at Norman Osborne’s company goes wrong and he is transformed into The Green Goblin who’s out to destroy anyone and everything. What ever will Spidey do to save the city?

Spider-Man is just good old-fashioned fun. If you’re familiar with the storyline then you’ve got a leg up on most people. As popular as the comic was, there’s a lot of people out there who don’t know a lick about Spidey or his past. Kirsten Dunst was perfectly cast as Mary Jane and I’ll sit through a movie with her bouncing around in the rain any day of the week! Where the film hits a stumbling block is the CGI effects. This has been said before and I’ll reinforce it — they SUCK! I mean really, I think I could have done a better job. Now maybe they were strapped for cash or maybe they were just in a hurry, either way it really took away from the believability of the movie. It really breaks your concentration when you think “Man, that did not look real at all”! Still, the movie made money and there’s bound to be a Spider-Man II (and we’ll likely see three or four of them as long as they keep generating a profit). This was a good introduction to the world of Spider-Man, but hopefully more installments will shed a little light on some other things. I did mention that Mary Jane was cast and I do believe Tobey Maguire’s performance as the misunderstood teenager. But I just had a hard time believing that a “Super Hero” would talk like a total geek. Maguire is a great actor, I’m not denying that, but I just don’t buy him as a hero for the city of New York. Still, maybe I’m not looking deep enough here. In any case, those of you who are reading this will most likely buy it regardless of what I say, so I will say that fans of the movie won’t be disappointed.

Video: How does it look?

Let’s call a spade a spade here, shall we? “Spider-Man” is perhaps the most anticipated title that Blu-ray has had to offer to date and Sony doesn’t want to disappoint. Thank heavens they didn’t (disappoint). The 2.40:1 AVC HD transfer is as rich and luscious as any I’ve seen on disc. The colors pop and my original comments about the CGI effects aside, I can’t fault the transfer for something the filmmakers did wrong. This is one of those titles that you’ll put in your PS3 (or stand-alone Blu-ray player) and literally sit there and say “Hey, look at this!” Detail level is amazing; so much that it’s almost too good. We see pores on the actors’ faces and the minute details of the scales in Spider-Man’s suit. Contrast is right on target and the black levels looked solid as a rock. I’m running out of adjectives here folks, suffice it to say that when it comes to picture quality – you’re in for the royal treatment.

Audio: How does it sound?

As impressive as how the movie looks is how it sounds. Much like the other titles in the series, “Spider-Man” benefits from an amazing-sounding Dolby TrueHD track coupled with a slightly inferior Dolby Digital 5.1 track. One thing that really strikes me about how good some of these uncompressed tracks are is the little things. I toggle between the two tracks and one just sounds so much more rich and robust. I turn it to the Dolby Digital 5.1 track and I feel I’ve lost some of my hearing. Truly, once you’ve been spoiled by the lavishness of a good uncompressed track, it’s really hard to listen to anything else.

Supplements: What are the extras?

Like “Spider-Man 2”, this one is featureless even though there are several standard DVD versions out there with plenty of supplements. I fail to see the logic here, but I’m sure we haven’t seen the last of the web slinger on Blu-ray.

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