The Amazing Spider-Man Blu-ray & DVD Review
The Amazing Spider-Man, Sony’s newest Spider-Man film, hits stores on DVD & Blu-Ray this November 9th, just a few short weeks away. Starring Andrew Garfield and Emma Stone, the movie was a box office success in theaters this summer, even if it didn’t manage to out gross its previous 3 predecessors. But where the Tobey Maguire films had The Amazing Spider-Man beat financially, Garfield’s incarnation of the webslinger on screen presented a much more enjoyable film. Losing much of the cheese found in Sam Raimi’s trilogy, Marc Webb’s take on Spider-Man was much more action packed and slightly darker. Now I’m sure many of you have already seen The Amazing Spider-Man while it was in theaters, and those who are waiting for the home video release don’t want it spoiled, so I won’t bore you all with a lengthy recap in this review.
The new Amazing Spider-Man is a reboot of the movie franchise featuring a much young Peter Parker, portrayed by Garfield. In this and many other ways, such as including Gwen Stacy (Stone) and making her Peter’s first love interest, the new Amazing Spider-Man is much more like the comics. However, The Amazing Spider-Man is also quite a different take on Spider-Man than what we see in the comics. Peter plays a less innocent role than we are traditionally used to seeing, not as much the young child who was picked on and couldn’t hurt a fly (though he notably does not hurt a fly in the movie, while given the chance). We also see a lot of new interpretations of events in this films attempt to be more modern, violent, and sexy. For example, Peter does end up in a wrestling ring in this film, but not as a wrestler wearing a goofy early version of the Spider-Man suit. We also see a very different death for Uncle Ben, but with the same end result. Perhaps the most notable difference as a comic fan is that we don’t hear “with great power comes great responsibility” quoted exactly as we have in so many other versions of Spider-Man. Sure, the line is in there, but in a very different wording. That said, this isn’t a bad thing. It gives the film an Elseworlds/alternate reality sort of feel as compared to the comics, with everything happening similar to the comic universe, yet slightly different…darker even.
The film starts with a young Peter Parker that is still under the guardianship of his parents, just before their death. The opening hints at Richard Parker being the creator of the radioactive spiders that will one day bite Peter and give him spider-like powers. I must say, I’m never a fan of stories involving Peter’s parents. I hated when we discovered Richard Parker and his wife were secret agents in the comics, and I don’t care for this more Ultimate Spider-Man-esque interpretation either. Never-the-less, it leads to Peter being taken in by his aunt and uncle, later discovering one of his father’s possessions which holds the secret to the cross-genetic formula. Of course Peter goes to Oscorp to look into this, meeting his father’s older partner, Dr. Curt Connors (Rhys Ifans), and being bitten by a radioactive spider. It probably wouldn’t surprise many of you to say this is how Peter gets his powers. Peter then has a few incidents where he seems to have very little subconscious control of his extreme strength, making for some slightly over the top but funny scenes. Eventually Peter loses his uncle to a random act of crime, holding true to the Spider-Man mythos, and Peter becomes a vigilante hoping to catch Uncle Ben’s killer. The growth of Peter Parker into Spider-Man is done rather quick and simple, though does have the best costume design sequence I’ve ever seen in a superhero movie.
As Peter Parker becomes Spider-Man, he also gets the girl. The girl being Gwen Stacy in this film, one of my favorite Spider-Man love interests. Emma Stone does a great job portraying Stacy, as Denis Leary does Gwen’s father, Captain George Stacy. Gwen and Peter play of each other brilliantly, but the origin and growth of their relationship is almost non-existent in the film, as if they had been dating prior to the start of the movie. It’s a little disappointing since Sony chose to do an origin film yet again, but I’ve never been a fan of origin films for classic comic characters we all know about, so it doesn’t bother me much. After everything starts going good for Garfield as Spider-Man we of course run into the villain making problems in New York City. Connors gains the formula to complete his work from Peter Parker, but unfortunately the formula turns Connors into a giant Lizard, known to comic book fans as ‘The Lizard’ (I always wonder how Stan Lee came up with that ‘utterly unexpected’ name). The film has some action packed and intense fight scenes, far greater than its predecessors, with the expected big climax risking the entire population of New York. By the end all the threads are tied up, Spider-Man is helped by those he once helped, and Peter gets the girl…kinda. But, like any Marvel movie, there is a scene after the credits (and note, this is a Sony film, not a Marvel Studios movie, so this post-credits scene is not going to attach Spidey to the Avengers or feature Robert Downey Jr.) many fights might have missed in theaters. The DVD & Blu-ray release is now your chance to see what potentially sets up the sequel, which Marc Webb has recently signed on for. A quick note on the sequel, earlier this week it was announced that Shailene Woodley was offered the role of Mary Jane Watson and that Electro is being considered as a villain.
So the movie is good, but for the most part you probably saw that in theaters and now want to know what the DVD & Blu-ray have to offer. Well, there will be 3 versions of The Amazing Spider-Man home release: a Blu-ray & DVD combo pack, a Blu-ray 3D combo pack, and a Limited Edition Gift Set. Here are the specs for each:
Disc 1: 2D Blu-ray feature film
- The Amazing Spider-Man Second Screen App, including interviews, storyboards, alternate takes, costume tests, pre-visualization sequences and more. Allows you to “sling” content from your tablet to the TV.
Disc 2: 2D Blu-ray featuring 90 Minutes of Behind-the-Scenes Documentaries, including:
o Development and Direction
o On Location: LA
o On Stage: Sony Studios
o On Location: NY
o Post Production and Release
- 16 Pre-Visualization Sequences
Disc 3: DVD feature film
- Deleted Scenes
- Filmmaker Audio Commentary
- The Oscorp Archives – Production Art Gallery
- Stunt Rehearsals
Blu-ray 3D Combo Pack Special Features:
All of the 3-Disc Combo Pack Special Features plus…
Disc 1: 3D Blu-ray
- 3D versions of the film
- 3D 101 with Director Marc Webb
- 3D Image Progression Reel
Disc 2: 2D Blu-ray feature film
Disc 3: 2D Blu-ray featuring 90 Minutes of Behind-the-Scenes Documentaries
Limited Edition Gift Set Special Features:
All of the 4-Disc Blu-ray 3D/Blu-ray/DVD Combo Pack Special Features plus…
- Collectible Amazing Spider-Man Figurine
- Collectible Lizard Figurine
The home video release, as you can see, is packed with extra features. The first I wanted to try out was this very unique second screen app Sony is introducing on this film. After borrowing one of the brand new iPads (because this feature is only available on iPads, the Sony Tablet, and Xperia Tablet) I began the surprisingly long download process. The Amazing Spider-Man Second Screen App is not a small application, despite its limited amount of uses. Hilariously, upon turning on the app, the first thing this new application does is advertise itself to you in the same way the Blu-ray does, informing you where and how to download and use it. A little redundant, but such things happen. But then the saddening part hit me; because the movie is not out officially at the time of this review, there is no content available on the timeline option and most of the production notes are still locked up. There are a lot of trailers you can view in the app, as well as some of the bios and CG designs, but not enough that I can properly attempt a review. What was available or shown locked looked quite interesting, but I’ll just have to review the Amazing Spider-Man Second Screen App at a later date.
The actual bonus features on the film’s second disc are rather extensive. Unfortunately, the menu for this disc is somewhat basic, making it a bit of a nuisance to read small white text over constantly changing background visuals and certainly annoying to find a single specific feature or scene (there are so many, yet only 3 titles are ever presented onscreen at once, leaving you to scroll a bit). But this is of course tolerable, especially when there are so many extra features! The deleted scenes section offers a rather impressive 11 deleted scenes. Titled ‘a different fate’, ‘Connor’s condolences’, ‘tracking Connors’, ‘hacking Connors’, ‘going away’, ‘top to bottom part 1’, ‘top to bottom part 2’, ‘bad lizard’, ‘help me’, ‘all the power you feel’, and ‘lost something’, most of these are short scenes featuring Dr. Connors, often without fully finished CGI (‘bad lizard’ has a particularly funny moment as you see Ifans’ actual tongue and the Lizard’s on screen at the same time). We also see Dr. Connors’ son introduced as a character in ‘going away’, and some possible plot additions to the post-credits scene in ‘all the power you feel’. But perhaps the greatest deleted scene was ‘Connor’s condolences’, where Connors has almost a more powerful line of dialogue than the “with great power” classic written by Stan Lee, stating “we must be greater than what we suffer”.
Another of the many special features categories is Rite of Passage: The Amazing Spider-Man Reborn, which features a lot of fun behind the scenes looks at how the film was put together. This includes producers talking about the original plans for Spider-Man 4 before the reboot, crew discussing how scenes were done, and cast talking about their roles. There is actual video from storyboard meetings, details on how costumes were designed, and insights into how the special effects were done. Oh, and of course Stan Lee talks a bit about the old webhead. There are 7 featurettes in this section of the special features, though I must add that some of these behind the scenes videos truly made me wish they included a gag reel here. Also included on the special features disc is a section of 16 story boarded sequences, showing off the stunning art most movie viewers will never get to see. The Oscorp Archives Production Art Gallery is a HUGE media collection of production stills and designs for Spider-Man, The Lizard, and the backgrounds of the film. This feature surprised me in how fun it was and how it made me use buttons I forgot Blu-ray players even have. The Image Progression Reels feature, another category of featurettes, includes 4 videos showing how the CG and special effects were done via computers and some very talented users. The developers of the Amazing Spider-Man movie tie-in video game also have thrown in a feature, as they chat about how the game was made. Finally, Stunt Rehearsals contains 8 videos showing just how the incredible stunts of the movie were choreographed and performed. This special features collection really delves deep into all the many jobs done to put this big budget film together.
All in all, Sony has put together a rather impressive package for The Amazing Spider-Man home video release. With several options to purchase, the full 136-minute film, and well over 90-minutes of special features it’s quite the entertaining bundle. But that’s not even all there is, with the Blu-ray & DVD combo providing an UltraViolet download, a redemption code for the Human Spider skin in Gameloft’s Amazing Spider-Man game, and even a recipe for ‘Spidery Peanut Butter Cookies’ from Skippy peanut butter (I might have to go make some of those). So once you decide which bundle you’re going after, make sure you pick up The Amazing Spider-man on home video Friday, November 9th!
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