DVD Review: The Amazing Spider-Man 2
Distributor: Sony Pictures Home Entertainment
Street Date: August 19th 2014
Technical Specifications: 480P Video, Color, 2.40:1 Aspect Ratio, 5.1 Dolby Digital Audio
Runtime: 142 Minutes
***Spoilers for The Amazing Spider-Man are included in this review of the sequel, as it’s difficult to discuss the sequel without spoiling elements of the first. Readers beware.
In The Amazing Spider-Man 2, Peter Parker (Andrew Garfield) is back doing what he does best: saving New York City from the bad guys and courting the beautiful Gwen Stacy (Emma Stone). After an unconventional opening that ties up some loose ends on what happened to Peter’s parents in the previous film, Spidey swings into action to take down Aleksei Systevich (Paul Giamatti) who is barreling through the streets of Manhattan with a truck full of plutonium, in one of the films better action sequences. During the chaos, Spider-Man saves the life of Max Dillon (Jamie Foxx), a low-level electrical technician at OsCorp.
Max soon becomes obsessed with Spider-Man, and falls into some bad luck of his own (literally) when an accident at OsCorp leaves him electrically-supercharged, glowing blue, and in a seriously bad mood. Meanwhile, the cuteness factor of Peter and Gwen’s relationship nears eye-rolling intensity, but a wrench is thrown in the mix when Peter has trouble letting himself get too close to her, feeling guilty over the death of her Father in the previous installment. He made a promise, and however much it hurts, he intends to keep it. But it proves hard to stay away from the woman he loves for too long, especially when she starts making plans to attend Oxford in England.
If the plot wasn’t complicated enough already, Harry Osborne returns home to find his ailing father Norman dying of a rare genetic disease. Norman leaves Harry in charge of the company, and Harry soon finds out that the disease has taken hold of him as well, and it just so happens that the only cure is Spider-Man’s blood. Suffice to say, Spidey has his hands full this time around, battling not one, not two, but three villains! He’s also unraveling the mystery surrounding his parent’s disappearance, trying to hold on to the love of his life, and weaving through other complexities of young adulthood.
The Amazing Spider-Man 2 is more than enjoyable, featuring outstanding action sequences, a layered romance with great chemistry between the leads, and exciting special effects. The only downside is this: when a superhero franchise is successful, sooner or later the filmmakers decide to pack as much content into a sequel as possible, loading it with too many villains and far too much at stake. It happened with Batman & Robin, Sam Raimi’s Spider-Man 3, and it’s happened once again with The Amazing Spider-Man 2. This time around is different in that it’s not necessarily a deal breaker, just a mere bloated annoyance in an otherwise really fun superhero film.
I believe that The Amazing Spider-Man 2 will grow on fans that felt disappointed with the film on first viewing, as I went in with low expectations and enjoyed it for the most part, flaws and all. There is no doubt that the filmmakers tried to pack far too much into a single outing, and may have been better off toning down the number of villains and subplots. Nevertheless, it’s certainly an engaging Superhero film from start to finish, with earnest performances from the cast and exciting action sequences. I’ll always have a soft spot for the Sam Raimi films (at least the first two), but at the end of the day, I was entertained with this outing.
Being used to reviewing Blu-Ray, it’s always a little hard for me to fairly critique the inferior DVD format, but The Amazing Spider-Man 2 looks solid here for the most part. Colors are bold and striking, and the picture is very clean, with no artifacts or anomalies throughout the presentation. Detail is often fuzzy on a High Definition screen given the format’s limitations, but this still looks fairly solid in 480P.
The 5.1 Dolby Digital audio, though obviously not as powerful as its HD counterpart on the Blu-Ray, gets the job done. This is a finely tuned mix, balanced well across all channels and supporting the film in both high-action and the calmer, quieter moments. Dialogue always comes through clean and clear, even during the frenetic action, and the soundtrack fully envelops you in your home theater setup.
Sony Pictures Home Entertainment has included select special features for this DVD edition of The Amazing Spider-Man 2. Keep in mind that the Blu-Ray edition has a six-part making-of featurette entitled The Wages of Heroism that is absent from this DVD edition. Here’s a breakdown of what’s included:
- Audio Commentary with Filmmakers– The writers and producers of The Amazing Spider-Man 2 cover quite a bit of material in this commentary! From the special effects utilized to the responsibility of fan demand in regards to the comics, there is some fun insight into the making of the movie.
- Deleted & Alternate Scenes– Available to view with or without commentary from Director Marc Webb, this DVD includes the following Deleted and Alternate Scenes:
- Max’s Mother: This one runs nearly two minutes and features Max’s ailing mother that directly follows the moment the power goes out in his apartment during the film. Max tries to give his mother various hints that it’s his Birthday, as she fails to remember.
- Peter Visits Harry: This alternate scene from the film runs over four minutes and is really just an extended introduction to the moments building up to Peter visiting Harry. We get a look at the military grade armor that Harry would later showcase in the film. We also get to see Harry explaining to Peter about the files that his father Norman left him (this scene includes the “Parker family under surveillance” line from the trailer).
- Oxford Acceptance: Gwen finds out firsthand that she has been accepted to Oxford as Peter contemplates life atop a New York rooftop. I love how the safety harness around Andrew Garfield’s neck randomly appears in a subsequent shot.
- Birth of the Goblin: An slightly extended look at Harry’s transformation near the conclusion of the film, which really just adds up to a few close-up special effects shots that were cut, as well as the Security team being blasted away by a grenade from the Goblin. Runs about 1 ½ minutes.
- Alicia Keys “It’s On Again” Music Video– A nearly four minute music video for Alicia Keys’ song from the film. Select scenes from The Amazing Spider-Man 2 are edited into the musical footage.
- Previews– Several trailers for other Sony titles including: Annie, When the Game Stands Tall, Think Like a Man Too, Mom’s Night Out, and Appleseed: Alpha.
As you can see from the “Unboxing” pictures below, this DVD edition from Sony Pictures Home Entertainment features some pretty boring photo-shopped cover art. I much prefer the Blu-Ray edition design. Is Gwen standing in water? Did I miss that scene? If not, then why are her legs cut off below the knee? I don’t mean to sound harsh, but this looks like a child’s bedroom poster from Walmart at best. On the reverse of the packaging you’ll find a plot synopsis, a list of special features, cast and crew credits, and technical specifications. Inside of the case are the DVD disc, an Ultraviolet digital copy code, and a packet of coupons for items like Old Wisconsin Turkey Bites, Beanitos, and White Castle.
I enjoyed The Amazing Spider-Man 2, even though this is clearly a case of bloated filmmaking that could have been more effective on a smaller scale, it’s still decent enough for me to recommend. The performances are genuine, and the action sequences and special effects are well done, even if I did roll my eyes on several occasions (how many times did this movie end?). This DVD edition from Sony Pictures looks fine given the inferior format, as I’m certain the Blu-Ray edition would easily best it in every way, and the Dolby Digital audio is fairly powerful. Special features are light, as once again the six-part making-of documentary is absent from this release. Though this particular DVD edition of the film isn’t the one to own, and I recommend picking up the Blu-Ray instead, I had a good enough time with The Amazing Spider-Man 2, flaws and all.
-Pete Macabre (“Film Fan” Pete)
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