I feel ripped off. I didn't even pay for my copy of Spider-Man vs. Doc Ock and I feel like I got the short end of the deal. This disc contains four episodes of the Saturday morning Spider-Man cartoon from the late 90s, all of which are supposed to feature Doctor Octopus as the villain. Not only does Doc Ock not appear in the final episode, but three of the shows are from a longer 11-part series so you don't get the whole story. Heck, the least Marvel and Buena Vista Home Entertainment can do is offer three episodes that are in chronological order.
To me, this disc is a blatant rip off. The producers seem to have rushed this out the door so its release could coincide with the Spider-Man 2 theatrical run. Unfortunately, there are too many holes to make this a worthy purchase for anyone other than a tiny tot who is just watching it for the colorful animation. I realize that each episode is essentially a self-contained story, but anyone watching this who is over 7 years old will notice the gaping holes in the stories that can only be filled by watching what came before.
The episodes on this DVD are your basic super hero kiddie fair with very little meat to the story. The first episode, "Doctor Octopus: Armed and Dangerous," first aired in the show's first season in 1995. It starts with a date between Peter Parker and Felicia Hardy, but Felicia is kidnapped by Peter's old teacher from science camp who is out for revenge on the people who ridiculed him of his invention to transfer power from a battery. Did I mention he now has additional metal limbs? This episode is fun in an adolescent sort of way but only makes me long for the coming film.
The rest of the disc's episodes come from the show's fourth season (1997) and are part of the "Partners in Danger" storyline. You get "The Cat," "The Black Cat," and "Partners," parts 2, 3, and 5, respectively. The series features all sorts of guest stars: Nick Fury, Kingpin, Red Skull, Vulture, Scorpion, Black Cat, and of course, Doctor Octopus, who is surprisingly absent from the final episode. The episodes introduce the Black Cat and follow her adventures with Spider-Man. While filled with action and outlandish scenarios, the missing pieces become blatantly obvious from the outset and create stumbling blocks for the suspension of disbelief. Still, the explosions and battle scenes are fun.
I'm actually a big fan of Spider-Man, both on film and in comic books. What makes him such a great character is his sarcastic humor and his down to earth alter ego, Peter Parker. While these are both featured in these episodes, the stories lack an edge necessary to keep my attention. With that in mind, I think this DVD would be fine for young children, or perhaps those die-hard fans out there who must buy anything Spider-Man.
Marvel and Buena Vista Home Entertainment present Spider-Man vs. Doc Ock in full frame, just as they appeared on television. The colors are bright and vibrant and form the centerpoint to the show's appearance. Colors really jump off the screen. However, there is a general blockiness to the animation that I found distracting from time to time. The art is not real crisp in nature, but I don't believe this is the fault of the transfer. Still, it's an adequate presentation since it looks as good as it did when the shows were first aired.
Spider-Man vs. Doc Ock is presented in 5.1 Dolby Digital surround but there is very little use of the rear channels. Voices are crisp and the music sounds very clear. While the bass isn't exactly booming, it does a fine job during the epic battle scenes. As with the video presentation, the audio is fine but nothing special.
The disc also features French and Spanish audio tracks.
THE BONUS FEATURES
The coolest bonus features on this disc are the classic episodes from the 1967 Spider-Man television series. "The Power of Dr. Octopus" and "Sub-Zero for Spidey" are classic cartoon tales that are both fun because of the high cheese factor. And believe me, these are corny.
You also get Stan Lee's Soapbox, which is Stan Lee talking about his love for Dr. Octopus and Spider-Man. His insight is a bit nutty, but it's fun to see Lee's personality shine as he talks about his beloved characters. Lee also gives brief introductions to each episode, but watch out, more times than not, he gives away key plot points.
Other than that, you get previews for the Aladdin DVD, The Incredibles, the cartoon Spider-Man Venom Saga, Bionicle 2, Radio Disney, and Magical Quest 2.
This is a fine disc for the kids and perhaps for die-hard Spider-Man fanatics. Everyone else should wait for the new feature film or pick up one of the many comics on the shelves.