In the last decade, we've had dozens of comic book to film adaptations, from well-known properties, to smaller cult offerings. This resurgence owes much to the success of Spider-Man, under the careful guidance of cult director Sam Raimi.
When bullied student Peter Parker (Tobey Maguire) is bitten by a radioactive spider, he finds his body has undergone some significant changes - superhuman strength, web emanating from his wrist and ultra quick reflexes. Peter attempts to use these newfound powers to better his financial situation and impress the girl next door, Mary-Jane (Kirsten Dunst), but when tragedy strikes in an event he could have averted, Peter decides to fight crime as a superhero vigilante. And it's just in time too, because the super villain Green Goblin (Willem Dafoe) has been created and threatens to wreck havoc on the city.
The success of the film has almost as much to do with the timing of the release, as it does with the quality of the film itself. In a post 9/11 United States, Americans were still reeling from the New York disaster and along comes a production, both filmed in and set in the city, which for a fleeting moment allowed them to be swept up in a fantasy world.
Whilst the wheels came off with the much maligned Spider-Man 3, the original was a fresh take on the classic Marvel superhero and re-invigorated the fortunes of the franchise, generating billions of dollars and re-invigorating comic book adaptations.
Spider-Man is presented in the film's original aspect ratio of 1.85:1, encoded with AVC compression.
Utilizing the same transfer as the previous 2009 release, but with a fresh encode, Spider-Man looks good, but certainly not great. First the good - the colors of the production design are bright and bold, with flourishes of primary colors which call to mind the visual look of the comics. The image is nice and sharp and with good resolution and clarity. Not so good is the obvious film noise, resultant from the use of an older transfer. There's a difference between film grain and film noise and this is sadly the latter.
Overall, a good effort, but aging elements can only go so far.
Spider-Man is presented in DTS HD Master Audio 5.1, at 16 bits.
This is more like it. Featuring a very aggressive audio mix, Spider-Man sounds every bit the Hollywood blockbuster that it is. With an over the top surround channel mix and deep bass, this mix will really showcase whatever your home theatre has to offer. Whilst some dialogue has a little bit of audible hiss, there are no dialogue intelligibility issues.
The score composed by Danny Elfman is wonderful and immediately enters the pantheon of memorable superhero themes.
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The previous release of the film, only available in the Spider-Man Trilogy Blu-ray boxset was completely devoid of extra features, even though the previous DVD release was quite well endowed. This Blu-ray re-release features the majority of extra features from that release, and even a few more. Let's jump in.
First up are three Audio Commentaries, the first provided by the filmmakers and cast, the next by the visual effects designer and crew, and the last by actors Tobey Maguire and J.K. Simmons. You'll have to be a massive fan of the series to get through all three commentaries, but for what it's worth I enjoyed the majority of the Maguire track.
Spider-Mania: An E! Entertainment Special and HBO Making of Spider-Man are two made for TV featurettes which are relatively informative, but still have more than a whiff of promotion about them. The Director and Composer Profiles are equally fluffy, filled with movie clips and short sound bites.
More informative is the collection of Behind The Scenes of Spider-Man featurettes and the Spider-Man - The Mythology of the 21st Century which takes an over-arching look at the cultural impact of the superhero franchise, featuring many luminaries of the comic book world.
The Spider-Man Cutting Room Floor is a nice BD-Java application consisting of an on-screen editing deck, allows users to cut together their own scenes from a few sequences of the film. On top of that, it allows users to share their finished cut via BD-Live. I don't think I'll be returning to the feature much, but it's a nice use of available technology.
The Webisodes feature is the culmination of multiple capsule featurettes which take a look at certain aspects of the production. The Music Video section gives two offerings; the ear cutting Chad Kroeger and Sum 41. Skip them quickly. However, the Gags and Outtakes reel is somewhat entertaining.
Finally we have multiplescreen tests, costume and makeup tests, eleven TV Spots and the Theatrical Trailer presented in 1080p.