Posted in: Disc Reviews by Gino Sassani on June 15th, 2004
With the release of Spider-Man 2 in late June, it was no surprise that Sony decided to give us an upgrade of the first film. Spider-Man was probably the best superhero film to come along since the original Superman in the late 70’s. Perhaps not as recognizable as Batman or Superman, Spidey is still quite an American icon to the millions of us who grew up during the golden age of comics.
This film is a faithful adaptation. The only real complaint I’ve heard is the tweaking of the origin story. In the comics…it was a radioactive spider, not a genetically altered one, that sank its teeth into Peter Parker. The casting is exceptional with the possible exception of Kirsten Dunst. I can’t put my finger on it, but she is the weak link of the entire picture. Law and Order’s Simmonds is a dead ringer for J.J. Jamison.
High school nerd Peter Parker (Maguire) is bitten by a genetically altered spider. He begins to exhibit spider-like abilities and strength. When his uncle (Robertson) is killed, he decides to fight crime as the costumed Spider-Man. His first nemesis is his friend’s father as the Green Goblin (Defoe).
The audio is available in near perfect DTS 6.1 or Dolby Digital 5.1. Both tracks are exceptional options. The DTS track has perhaps a stronger sub range, but both deliver the goods. Danny Elfman’s distinctive score is treated with great care here. Dialogue is perfectly centered and ambient sounds are flawless in presentation. The audio certainly lives up to the Superbit reputation.
There is also a commentary track with Toby Maguire which is somewhat entertaining.
Spider-Man is presented in its original theatrical aspect ratio of 1.85:1. This is where the Superbit version shines. I was extremely disappointed in the video transfer of the previous release of this film. All of my complaints have been addressed here. While still soft in spots, the film delivers a much more solid image. Gone is the muddy, digital artifact heavy transfer of last year. This is the version we should have had all along. Colors are bright, particularly the Spidey costume, when called for, and somber when necessary as in the climactic fight. There is still some quality difference when CGI work dominates the picture. No film specks or artifacts are evident.
This is a superbit release. By definition there are no bonus materials except the commentary. The idea here is to use all of the available disc space to give you the best bit rate presentation of the feature film.
I always thought that this film deserved better treatment than it got in its original release. Perhaps the trend is to get films to market quickly to capitalize on the box office buzz and follow up later with superior transfers via Superbit or Special Editions. It would be helpful if studios were upfront about better releases (Like the Lord of the Rings films) so that consumers can decide if they are willing to wait for a better product. Big films mean big bucks to these studios. It would be a shame to dilute the market with too many versions of the same film. The studios should always remember that “With great power comes great responsibility”.
Special Features List
- Audio Commentary