I read the other day where there are going to be 40 new super hero movies in the next five years. Forty! Now that’s a lot of worlds to save and so little time to do it. And I honestly don’t think that Marvel creator Stan Lee will rest until he’s had a cameo in each and every one of them. Ok, not all of these super hero movies will be the ever-expanding Marvel universe, but a great deal of them will be. But let’s get back to basics, shall we? Spider-Man. He’s one of the original Marvel heroes and this is now the fifth big budget film featuring our favorite fast-talking web slinger. Admittedly I wasn’t quite sure what to expect when the franchise was to “reboot” so soon after 2007’s aptly-titled Spider-Man 3. As it turns out, it’s the same…yet different as well. I find these new films to be a bit more faithful to the older Spider-Man comics and that’s something that a true geek fan like me wants and expects. The long-awaited sequel to 2011’s The Amazing Spider-Man is here, real-life couple Andrew Garfield and Emma Stone are the leads and we’ve now got an Academy Award winning actor with Jamie Foxx in the cast. What will our arachnid crime fighter/photographer face next? Let’s find out.
Peter Parker (Andrew Garfield) is set to graduate High School and as he tries to reconcile his relationship with Gwen Stacy (Emma Stone) after the loss of her father (Dennis Leary, in hallucination form), things don’t always go as planned. Peter is also searching for the mystery as to what happened to his parents and is making some headway. However with the CEO of Oscorp, Norman (Chris Cooper) ailing, he hands control over to his son, Harry (Dane DeHaan). If there’s not enough going on, we also meet Max (Jamie Foxx), a clumsy Oscorp associate who mistakenly inherits superpowers and becomes known as Electro (he’s also got an unhealthy obsession with Spidey). As we might expect, all of these story lines eventually intersect and we get another re-telling of Harry’s transformation into the Green Goblin. This, of course, begs the question: can Spider-Man save the day, the city and his girlfriend or will the web of that holds his life together…snap?
There was no doubt that The Amazing Spider-Man 2 would be a hit. With a high-profile cast and an opening date that had no real competition, this movie slung its way to the $200 million dollar mark in no time at all. And while I enjoyed every second of the 142 minute running time, even I’ll admit that there was a bit too much going on. As described in the featurette, there were no less than three high-profile villains in the film and that felt a bit much. Lest we forget that Spider-Man is a super hero, but he’s not super-human (in a sense of the word). Long time fans of the comics will also be pleased (or saddened) as to how this plays out and I, for one, was glad they made this decision. Still, there’s no denying that the movie is entertaining and delivers what we expect out of a super hero movie. Is it perfect? No. Is it entertaining? My spidey sense says yes!
Video: How’s it look?
This film is one of the marquee titles of the year and anything short of perfection in the A/V department simply won’t be tolerated. I watched a few selected scenes on the Blu-ray before popping in the 4K version. Why? I have no idea. I guess I was expecting to be blown away by the HDR and improved detail (it does have 4x the clarity of HD, you know)! That said, I did see a bit of difference in some of the scenic shots (which, in a Spider-Man movie, is pretty important). Detail is what really caught my eye the most, with Electro’s pulsing bluish hue to the little intricacies in Spidey’s suit – it all looks amazing (pardon the obvious pun). Colors leap off the screen, from Gwen’s pale skin contrasted with the bright crimson of Spider-Man’s suit. Contrast and black levels are rock solid as well with no discernible errors to be found. Simply put, this is a good-looking picture. The film was originally mastered in 4K and now that we’ve got the real thing, it’s evident.
Audio: How’s it sound?
Probably the most notable thing on this new release is the addition of a Dolby Atmos mix as well as a Dolby TrueHD mix if your receiver doesn’t do the processing. I noticed in a few scenes a greater sense of depth than with the standard DTS HD Master Audio track found on the Blu-ray. The score seems to be reminiscent of an 80’s movie with a few instances of a synthesizer and the like that really set this apart from the traditional “super hero” score. Hans Zimmer had done an exceptional job with the score here and it’s resonated (literally) throughout the film. Vocals are strong and well-centered as well. There’s also so much going on in the surrounds I don’t even know where to start, little things like Spidey’s webs engaging the rear speakers, to more robust incidents like things blowing up. You want depth – check out Electro’s voice in the later scenes, his deep voice literally resonates through every channel you’ve got hooked up to your receiver. I could go on, but suffice it to say that this is one track that’ll be fun to listen to.
Supplements: What are the extras?
This Ultra HD/4K version drops the DVD copy included with the Blu-ray, but retains all of the supplements. These are all found on the Blu-ray version and not the 4K disc.
Audio Commentary – Executive Producer Avi Arad, Producer Matt Tolmach and writers Alex Kurtzman and Jeff Pinker sit down and manage to fill most of the 142 minutes with talk about the movie, its production, casting and relevance to the original comics. It’s an engaging and informative track that audiences will surely love.
Deleted Scenes – Four are included here with optional commentary by Director Marc Webb.
Music Video – “It’s On Again” by Alicia Keys
Additional Deleted Scenes – Nine additional deleted scenes are included again with commentary by Marc Webb. Of note, there’s an interesting one with Peter and his father.
The Wages of Heroism: Making The Amazing Spider-Man 2 – This is a six-part feature broken down in to more technical aspects of the film (below).
Lessons Learned: Development and Direction – As the title suggests, the literal direction they wanted this movie to go as well as how it would pertain to some of the comic’s origins and what could be done to improve on its predecessor.
Heart of the City: Shooting in New York – Making movies in the Big Apple can’t be easy, so we’re presented with the perils of shooting in New York along with some of the benefits as well.
Triple Threat: Attack of the Villains – One thing I felt was wrong with the film were the plethora of villains, but my personal opinion aside the main three: Electro, Harry Osborn (Green Goblin) and the Rhino, are discussed here.
A More Dangerous World: Transforming Electro and the Green Goblin – We can see the visual and prosthetics that were used to make Jamie Foxx into Electro and Dane DeHaan into the Green Goblin.
A Bolt From the Blue: Visual Effects – The clock tower sequence is explored here in great detail as well as some of the choreographed fight scenes. I’m still in awe of what they can do with visual effects.
Spidey Gets His Groove Back: Music and Editing – The lengthiest of the six parts, this one is pretty immersive in its look at music, how each character had their own “vibe” (if you will) and how it’s all edited to make one cohesive piece. A very interesting segment.
The Music of The Amazing Spider-Man 2 with Director Marc Webb – Webb discusses what he wanted out of this score as well as his collaboration with composer Hans Zimmer.
The Bottom Line
As is the case with most of these catalog Ultra HD titles, if you already own the Blu-ray, there’s very little reason to upgrade. Ok, yeah, if you just purchased a new Dolby Atmos/DTS X receiver and dropped some cash on some new speakers – then by all means…yes, the HDR is evident in a few scenes and the Atmos soundtrack does outshine the DTS HD Master Audio, but not by a lot. If you’re just starting to build a library then this might be a good title, but since they’re rebooting the Spider-Man franchise, again, you might just want to wait.