Spider-Man 2 (Superbit)

January 28, 2012 7 Min Read

Review by: Matt Brighton

Plot: What’s it about?

“Spider-Man 2” has the luxury of not only being the most profitable movie of the year (to date), but also one of the most critically acclaimed. Additionally you don’t need a spider sense to know that the suits at Coulmbia/Tri-Star must be loving life. After all, “Spider-Man” is a franchise and has potential to be the biggest superhero movie of all-time. Personally, though, I think this sequel was a bit overrated. Don’t get me wrong, it’s a great movie and I found it superior to the first, but I just think that giving this movie a 4 star rating is a bit too much (just like “Return of the King”). When you give movies like this that rating, you automatically put them up there with the likes of “Casablanca” and “Citizen Kane”. Then again, I realize that these are two entirely different movies than those and everything is subjective. Is “Spider-Man 2” a good movie? Yes. Is it the best movie of 2004? No. Perhaps the best thing that the movie did is bridge the gap between being a “comic book movie” to being a mainstream movie. With past movies like “The Crow” or even “X-Men”, you had a core audience who was already familiar with the characters and they’d see the movie even if it was awful. I personally prefer the “X-Men” movies to these because as a former reader of those uncanny superheroes, I relate better to them than Peter Parker. I’m in the minority, however and I’ll admit that Spider-Man is perhaps Marvel Comics’ most “real” superhero.

That said, “Spider-Man 2” had a lot to build on as the initial installment all but guaranteed a sequel. In this we find Peter (Toby Maguire) now studying at Columbia University and more in love with Mary Jane (Kirsten Dunst) than ever. The only problem is that being Spider-Man has taken its toll on their relationship and now she’s engaged to astronaut John Jameson (Daniel Gillies). Being Spider-Man has taken so much of a toll on Peter that he decides to give it up and he’s mysteriously lost his ability to sling webs. This all changes, though, when Dr. Otto Octavius (Alfred Molina) mistakenly morphs into the evil Dr. Octopus (Doc Ock). As with all well-meaning scientists, Doc Ock installs an inhibitor chip to keep the tentacles fused to his spine (yes, really) from controlling him. The chip is compromised and now New York has another costumed villain to deal with. Naturally only Spider-Man can save the city (and possibly the world) from the evil Doc Ock and he must endure pain both physical and mental if he’s going to do so.

“Spider-Man 2” shows a much more human side of the masked superhero. As the audience, we all know that Peter is really Spidey, but the characters in the movie don’t. Couple this with the tension between Harry (James Franco) who despises Spider-Man (lest we forget, he blames Spidey for the death of his father at the end of “Spider-Man”), but is Peter’s best friend. To tell the truth, this one really does have it all. Love? Check. Acton? Got it. Costumed men chasing each other around and destroying a city? All here. As “Spider=Man 3” is undoubtedly on the way, we know that there’s no shortage of masked super-villans for Spidey to fight. That’s not the problem. But what Director Sam Raimi has done is sculpt a sequel that surpasses the original. Raimi, himself a vet of movies like “Evil Dead”, knows how to interestingly present a story and catch the audience off guard. What caught most audiences off guard was the fact that “Spider-Man 2” was not only better than the original; it showed a more human side to most every character in the movie. I’m preaching to the choir here, I’m sure – this is highly recommended.

Video: How does it look?

I’m hard-pressed to find something, if anything, wrong with this 2.40:1 anamorphic transfer. The sole reason for the Superbit line is to show the absolute best in picture and sound quality and they’ve certainly done that here. “Spider-Man 2” looks just as good as anything I’ve seen on disc (and that’s quite a few, by the way). The detail is solid throughout and colors nearly leap off the screen. I didn’t notice any bit of digital artifacting or edge enhancement. Even the little scales in Spidey’s suit were visible. If the goal is to best re-create the big screen onto the small one, “Spider-Man 2” is a most perfect example. Perfect.

Audio: How does it sound?

The audio is just as amazing as the video. I found both the Dolby Digital 5.1 and the DTS tracks to be very dynamic and full of life. Each of the 5.1 channels gets many chances to shine, but what were most active were the surrounds. Sometimes the effects were so subtle; one would tend to think it’s something other than the movie making the noise (say, like, the wind blowing outside, etc.) but no that’s not the case. I’d have to give the edge to the DTS, but not by much. Either track will fill the room with more action than most any other disc out there. As far as Superbit titles go this is a fine, if not reference-quality job.

Supplements: What are the extras?

If it’s supplements you want, there is a Widescreen and Full-Frame Special Edition of this movie available – however this disc contains no extras. Give it time, though, I imagine it’s only a matter of time before they announce a “Superbit Deluxe” version of this title that combines the supplements of the normal disc and the audio/video of this one.

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