“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 will say almost exactly what I said when watching my old Superbit release in terms of the video quality. I’m hard-pressed to find something, if anything, wrong with this 2.40:1 AVC HD transfer. Blu-ray was made for movies like this and it shows off not only the beauty of the close up shots, but the detail and intricacies of the wide shots as well. 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?
Not to be outdone, the Dolby TrueHD audio is among the best I’ve heard on the new format. I felt totally immersed in the action and it seems like there is always something going on in the speakers. The little creaks and nuances make the soundtrack seem just right and for every little discrete sound effect we get, there’s a crash, bang and boom to match it. Dialogue is flawless of course and though the action isn’t so in your face, it delivers. Take, for instance, the scene in which Spider-Man tries to stop the train. Amazing. The boards breaking, the wind as the train whizzes by all sound amazing and it makes me glad that my walls are thick because I turned this one up and never regretted it. Reference quality here folks, “Spider-Man 2” delivers on the audio front with room to spare.
Supplements: What are the extras?
Sony has officially dropped the ball here. They’re obviously counting on the immense popularity of the titles to sell themselves and while “Spider-Man 3” comes fully-loaded, we don’t get much of anything ÃƒÂ¢Ã¢â€šÂ¬Ã¢â‚¬Å“ ok anything, in terms of supplements. A real disappointment, considering that a plethora of supplements exist for this title.