Spiderman 2 Collector's DVD Gift Set Review

If super heroes really did exist, we would take them for granted. That or we would submit them to non-stop genetic experiments to find out what makes them tick. Seems that Peter Parker is starting to figure all of this out in the incredible "Spiderman 2." It doesn't make for a bad DVD set either.

Plagued with the personal burdens of being Spiderman, Peter Parker (Toby Maguire) finds himself struggling between his life as a hero and his life firmly on the ground. Meanwhile, Dr. Otto Octavius (Alfred Molina) is experimenting with a new form of energy. When something goes wrong during a demonstration, Octavius loses control of his tentacles and Spiderman must stop him before the city is taken out.

Roger Ebert very clearly states that "this is the best super hero movie I've ever seen." It's plastered all over the advertisements and the DVD case. What that quote doesn't tell you is just what a margin "Spiderman 2" has on its competition. Sam Raimi has crafted a thrill fest, one that ends up being unlike any other comic book translation to date.

Never has a super hero been so deeply studied like Spiderman is here. It's not his struggle with his adversary that makes the movie what it is, but his personal one. His love for Mary Jane, played again by Kirsten Dunst, just flat out works on screen while creating the cause for most of his problems. Maguire handles this role perfectly, making it all the more convincing.

Adding to his trouble is of course Doc Ock, a venerable opponent if there ever was one. At some points, you can actually believe that he is invincible. The CG in this sequel is a marked improvement over the first one and the tentacles of this villain are the highlight. Spiderman takes an incredible beating and the special effects make sure you can feel every blow.

Of course, this is a Sam Raimi movie and the cameos are many. Stan Lee is easy to spot this time around and it wouldn't be a Raimi movie without Bruce Campbell. They blend in just fine as the story moves along, giving the director's fans something to cheer about.

>From the brilliant opening credit sequence, through all the breathtaking action to the final few frames, this is an exhilarating film. The pacing is spot on throughout and the way this character is portrayed is just amazing. It's going to be a long time before "Spiderman 2" will have a challenger to relinquish its crown. (***** out of *****)

Raimi chose to use a wider frame for this film due to the tentacles and every section of this 2.40:1 widescreen canvas is used to the fullest. People, if you're not watching this movie in widescreen, you are NOT watching this movie. Sadly, this transfer is a little off. Most notably is the contrast level, which almost blinding at a few points. Flesh tones are completely washed out at a few points. Grain is pretty bad from the start, though it is toned down as the film moves along. Scenes without the whole blinding problem look fantastic (minimal if any chroma noise, edge enhancement almost non-existent), but it's a far too obvious problem. (****)

Thankfully and somewhat unsurprisingly, this disc is a masterpiece of sound work. Spidey's web shots do a fine job of flying through the sound field while his opponent's tentacles provide bass. A few scenes featuring gunfire have been mixed perfectly. The final moments, with the imploding building, is just stunning to listen to. Any of the fight sequences are worthy enough to feed to your receiver as well. (*****)

This is the "Collectors Gift Set" edition of the film. Unlike the first films set, this one uses a standard size box to hold everything and it should fit nicely on any shelf. Included in the box is of course the 2-disc DVD set along with plenty of stuff to show off. A smaller reproduction of "Spiderman: Issue 50" is included, the comic the film is based on. There is a 25-page booklet featuring art from a variety of sources, all created for this very set. Their presentation is impeccable. Next is a concept portfolio, a very glossy (almost to the point of being slippery) look at the concept art and a few shots of the film for comparison. Finally, a set of five perforated postcards featuring posters and promotional art are packed inside.

Ok, take a breath; it's time for the extras. Disc one houses two commentaries, the first led by Raimi and Maguire. The second is from some of the special effects crew discussing how they pulled it all off. A pop-up tivia track can be played along with the movie providing various information on the shoot and pointing out things you may have missed. Four "Web-I-sodes," basically just short featurettes that appeared on the internet, are included. Two focus on the actors, one on a Comic-con, and another on the suit creation. The disc is rounded off with a music video from Train and some trailers.

Disc two really brings the movie home with one of the best documentaries ever made for a DVD. This 12-part, 2+ hour look called "Making the Amazing" was mostly filmed as the film went (not just interviews after the shooting was complete) so you can see and hear the trouble as it happened. You owe to the movie fan part of yourself to watch this.

Three featurettes focus on Spiderman's troubles (and the comic that inspired the film), Doc Ock, and the women in our hero's life. "Enter the Web" is a multi-angle feature that offers four views of a scene being filmed. You can get close up with the director or Maguire, sit back and watch the action unfold, or look at all four shots at once.

A gallery includes still pictures for all the paintings done for the opening titles and the interactive section includes information on the video game. Included is the games E3 trailer and a short making-of. This set is worth buying on the main documentary itself. (*****)

Be aware that while this is an incredible set, another edition of the movie is due out next year. Not only will there be extra footage, but likely more extras. You can read up on the edition thanks to an interview on IGN.

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