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Reviews » Blu-ray Reviews » The Amazing Spider-Man (Blu-ray)
The Amazing Spider-Man (Blu-ray)
Sony Pictures // PG-13 // November 9, 2012 // Region A
List Price: $40.99 [Buy now and save at Amazon]
Review by Neil Lumbard | posted October 26, 2012 | E-mail the Author
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Amazing Spider-Man Blu-ray Review

Click on image to view Blu-ray screenshot with 1080p Resolution

Is The Amazing Spider-Man a reboot of a franchise or a remake of a recent and much loved film series? That seems to be the question existing on everyone's minds. Either way, tons of people consider the fact this movie was even made to be entirely pointless. Why should anyone even mess with something that was already done so well? 

For the top executives at Sony, making another Spider-Man movie makes perfect sense business-wise: the studio wanted to continue rolling in the dough as much as possible. For the filmmakers, it seems as though they wanted their own turn at making a Spider-Man film and here they have accomplished that task with more skill than I ever anticipated as being possible.

Yes, it's true that Marc Webb was approached for the project by the studio and not the other way around. However, Webb managed to bring his own sensibilities to this project in a way that any worthwhile director would.

The answer to the reboot/remake question (as far as I can see it) is that Director Marc Webb (500 Days of Summer) brought viewers his own take on Spider-Man. Webb brings his own personality to the table even while crafting a film which wants to respect the Sam Raimi directed efforts that preceded this production. The Amazing Spider-Man is capable of creating its own footprints in the sands of time.


Click on image to view Blu-ray screenshot with 1080p Resolution

The film has story elements that anyone who has seen the original film series will be entirely familiar with. I'm not willing to disagree about the suggestion that this is a movie that follows some similar patterns to the previous Spider-Man films, because this film does follow some of the same storyline aspects. Considering the fact that many of these elements are inherent to the comics, it even makes it seem harsh to simply write it off as a total remake though. Marc Webb crafts his own web with this project and has enough vision to make these proceedings seem new and interesting despite some familiar territory.  The direction worked where it matters most: in making us care about these characters first.  With the screenplay and with the direction, I had a feeling that I was on a journey in storytelling that is so often forgotten with any summer movie.

What of the notion that this new Spider-Man take is a post Christopher Nolan outing? I'm not so sure I agree with that sentiment. The Amazing Spider-Man contains both lighthearted moments and comedic elements mixed in with all the extended seriousness that was expected from fans. Viewers and critics who suggested that the entire movie is a drab dark experience and that it doesn't grab onto the original aspect of more joyous Spider-Man territory have been a bit misleading in their claims about the films overall stylistic approach to storytelling.

In life you sometimes have to remember to highlight both the darkness and the lightness in our world experiences and in our personal experiences too. The Amazing Spider-Man handles that concept well. There is never total bleakness or total happiness 24/7 and around the clock. We have moments of pure drama and lighthearted humor in this film. It found a good balance to suggest this kind of equation.

I am a huge fan of the original Spider-Man trilogy directed by the quirky and offbeat Sam Raimi. Raimi is the kind of wonder-kid director who makes you want to step back and simply "marvel" (as per the course, a pun is intended) in the beauty of his perspective and stylistic inclinations. You go where Raimi is going because you know he has the imagination and skills to take you swinging just like Spider-Man.


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I read countless comic books throughout my youth, but I was never a big follower of the Spider-Man comic books. The comics didn't appeal to me as much as my main-readings from Captain American and Batman. Yet from the Spider-Man comics I did read, I thought Raimi perfectly handled the source material (at least given basic understanding of the comics) and that he brought to cinematic life the inherent joy and wonder of the storytelling universe while delivering moving dramatics and impressive visuals with uncommon skill.  

I'm confident that I've watched those Sam Raimi directed Spider-Man films with an incredible fancy for them that goes beyond my normal love for cinema. In a way, these films became part of a small core group of movies that I would define as being amongst my favorite movies ever, and nothing will take that love for pure cinematic wonderment away from me.

The Sam Raimi Spider-Man films are masterful comic book movies. Sure, I won't disagree that the third one was the weakest in the series, but even Spider-Man 3 was better than your average multiplex fare. I know some continue to argue that comic book movies can't be genuinely great but the Spider-Man films were massive stepping stones in changing perceptions about what was possible to find in a comic-book adaptation. These were stories centered on people first and real things everyone could relate to on some level. The fantasy elements were merely an equation of these myths.

I wasn't even sure if I wanted to see The Amazing Spider-Man because of how much I love the Sam Raimi trilogy. I was so irritated and frustrated when Sony deciding to reboot this franchise and cast new actors, hire a new director, and everything else this process would entail. I wanted to see a Spider-Man 4, and with everyone who made that original trilogy involved.

I'd even be thrilled if Sony announced a Spider-Man 4 tomorrow... or the next day. Or even a few years from now... but nonetheless, I was surprised by how much I ended up enjoying The Amazing Spider-Man.


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The best reason to see The Amazing Spider-Man is that it is a well-told movie with downright great performances from Andrew Garfield as Peter Parker and Emma Stone as Gwen Stacy. I was able to put-aside my fond feelings for Tobey Maguire and Kirsten Dunst and accept the differences between the performances. These are different actors after all, and in the case of Gwen Stacy we are talking about a different character altogether with this new adaptation.

The chemistry between the pair was stellar and this contributed to a lot of the emotional weight of the film. At its core, The Amazing Spider-Man is a film about people, our relationships, and defining who we are and how we are in relation to the loved ones around us. It's a story about realizing who we are inside and how we matter to those around us. It's about fundamentally complex and important human issues.

Supporting actor Rhys Ifans provides an impressive performance as the conflicted and distraught scientist turned monster and his performance is right up there with the best of the performances in the earlier films. The human moments with this character elevated many scenes and grounded this story in a tragic and realistic way. You realize that he isn't just a monster, but someone who became diluted with his own tragedy.  Denis Leary was also fantastic as Captain Stacy, Gwen's father and a hero who is only just beginning to learn about Spider-Man and to form an opinion over the course of the film. He brings some needed realism to the story that helps excel these dramatic moments to an even greater realm.


Click on image to view Blu-ray screenshot with 1080p Resolution

I began watching The Amazing Spider-Man with muted expectations, and without anticipation. I walked out of my experience feeling as though the film was actually amazing. Subsequently, it's also a film I have revisited multiple times. I've enjoyed it every time I have seen it. The Amazing Spider-Man shattered my expectations. I was thrilled. I wasn't expecting that at all. I was floored by my own reaction. Ultimately, it is the human component that makes the film work as well as it does, however, and that is why I found the experience so compelling. 

This is one of the best pictures of the year. It doesn't take away my mad-love for Sam Raimi's Spider-Man movies and it doesn't detract from my enjoyment of those films either. In fact, I could see myself wanting to revisit The Amazing Spider-Man many times. Sign me up for a sequel too and we can begin to see where this alternate timeline of the story might take us

Make sure to at least give The Amazing Spider-Man a chance. Maybe you won't like it. Or maybe you will. Who knows? You may just find yourself walking away amazed. Or even swingin'.


Click on image to view Blu-ray screenshot with 1080p Resolution


Video:

The Amazing Spider-Man in presented in 1080p High Definition with its theatrical aspect ratio of 2.35:1.

I wanted to say with a grin on my face that that The Amazing Spider-Man looks downright amazing. I guess I might as well. Here you go: The Amazing Spider-Man looks downright amazing. Please excuse the obvious joke with this one, folks.  It was just too much fun.

Seriously, what would be a better way to ultimately describe a flawless transfer for a film that has the word "amazing" in the title? Nothing else could have sounded more accurate or well-described. It's amazing. This is a transfer anyone will recognize as pure excellence on every level.


Click on image to view Blu-ray screenshot with 1080p Resolution

The Amazing Spider-Man was filmed using state-of-the-art RED cameras, which are arguably the greatest digital film cameras now being used in Hollywood (and a auteur like Steven Soderbergh even used RED cameras for Contagion, easily one of the greatest looking films of last year). The cameras in the RED line are aces. The bleak and dark cinematography (when compared to the Sam Raimi Spider-Man trilogy) is a different sort of experience altogether, but it's exactly as expected for this different take on the iconic Peter Parker character and the Spider-Man hero. The myth of the character somehow seems heightened with this impeccable Blu-ray transfer.

It deserves perfect marks. This transfer is brilliance itself, with no technical issues that are common experiences and detriments to some film presentations, and certainly nothing to ultimately make it stand out in a bad way. It stands out in the best possible way. It's A+ cinematography looks flawless. The sharpness is unbelievable on this thing. So crisp it flabbergasts you with its amazingness. You see? There I go again. It's so amazing it event melts away at my own vocabulary.

Audio:

The audio-quality is every bit as remarkable as the film transfer is and no one should walk away from the experience of hearing such brilliantly crisp and well-defined audio disappointed. It's a remarkable audio track: great depth, superb bass, excellent usage of the surrounds, and more. It excels in every way. The dialogue is so crisp and easy to understand and the music score is also something that amazes. James Horner's music sounds beautiful and well-utilized in each scene, and that enhances the entire experience. Sound effects are also creatively implemented during and throughout the entire film. This is one 5.1 DTS-HD Master Audio presentation that does deserve to receive all of the props it will undoubtedly receive for its remarkable clarity and immersive sound design. 

Audio Options: English 5.1 DTS-HD Master Audio (Original Language), French and Portuguese 5.1 DTS-HD Master Audio, Spanish, Chinese, and Thai Dolby Digital 5.1

Subtitles Options: English, English SDH, Spanish, French, Portuguese, Thai, Indonesian/Bahasa, Korean, Mandarin (Simplified Mandarin), Mandarin (Traditional Mandarin), Cantonese

Extras:

The Amazing Spider-Man arrives jam-packed with extra supplements. The release itself contains the feature film, a second disc exclusive to supplements, a DVD copy of the film, and an Ultra Violet Digital Copy code. The package contains a slick looking embossed slipcover as well.

Please note: the video supplements are all in 1080p. However, Stunt Rehearsals footage is in poor condition and should not be considered as something taken from a true High Definition source. Everything else looks beautiful.

The on-disc extras consist of a commentary track, making-of documentary, deleted scenes, and much more. Read on for more details regarding each supplemental area.

First up is the commentary track with director Marc Webb and producers Avi Arad and Matt Tolmach. The commentators make the experience informative and entertaining and provide details about the making of the film as well as personal opinions on different aspects of the movie's thematic cores. Webb provides a grasp on his perception of the film and offers intelligent listeners a key into learning more about his directorial thought process.   

The first disc also includes a short informative piece explaining the Second Screen app and viewers who are capable of viewing the film this way can choose to watch the film while a sequence of storyboards, sketches, etc. is shown on their iPod or Sony Tablet or applicable devices. Personally, I cannot even begin to claim to understand why anyone would want to experience a movie this way.  Supplements should stay as supplements and not necessarily "interact" with the film-watching experience.


Click on image to view Blu-ray screenshot with 1080p Resolution

The highlight of this two-disc set is the feature-length documentary included on the second disc, Rite of Passage: The Amazing Spider-Man Reborn. Clocking in at around one hour and fifty minutes, this is exactly the sort of supplement serious film fans like to see.  It's a mammoth exploration of the making of the movie and it explores the film from concept to its creation. Interviews and behind the scenes footage help to make this a solid and informative piece to experience and unravel further.

I enjoyed getting to hear thoughts from Andrew Garfield and Emma Stone on these characters and experiences on set. Both Director Marc Webb and Screenwriter James Vanderbilt proved themselves to be highly informative and interesting. The producers also shared some genuine perspectives on the reasons behind making this film. As the documentary progresses, several shorter featurettes are grouped-together to form the cohesive whole.

Topics included covering the transition from Sam Raimi's Spider-Man Trilogy, the casting of the film, finding and working with director Marc Webb, development of the screenplay, early concept scenes, the Spider-Man costume creation, designing the Lizard, working in post-production and filming in Los Angeles, New York, and on the Sony production lots.

This documentary features so many interviews with those who worked on the film and so many behind-the-scenes moments. My favorite area of the piece was possibly the last part, though. It covered post-production and had insightful interviews with composer James Horner and editor Alan Edward Bell. Both provided some particularly interesting insights into their contributions.

Deleted Scenes (16:50) contains eleven deleted sequences that didn't make the final cut of the film.

Pre-Visualization (39:08) features storyboards and CG animated sequences shown as utilized to help with the production prior to actual scene filming and editing. Beautiful score music by the composer James Horner is included.

The Oscorp Archives Production Art Gallery is a clickable, scroll-through viewing experience where you can check out early production artwork used for the film.

Stunt Rehearsals is a look at some raw footage of stunt work and the preparation done for some of the film's stunt moments.

Developing The Amazing Spider-Man Video Game is more or less a fluff piece promoting the video game tie-in. This short featurette has some interviews with those involved in the creation of the video game. Unfortunately, this piece isn't that detailed or informative.


Click on image to view Blu-ray screenshot with 1080p Resolution

Final Thoughts:

I understand that not everyone was prepared for a new take on the Spider-Man franchise. The Sam Raimi films were wonderfully done, and even though there were some minor detractors with the third film, those disappointing factors weren't necessarily enough to necessitate the Spider-Man films being revisited so soon. I wasn't so keen on the idea of a new film series myself.

However, I ended up loving this new take on Spider-Man. Marc Webb and everyone on his filmmaking team ended up delivering a top-rate film that is every bit as amazing as the title would seem to indicate. The acting is phenomenal, the storyline is grounded in reality, and everything you would expect to find is there to create a truly magical experience.

As it turns out, The Amazing Spider-Man is one of the greatest film accomplishments of the year. With a top-notch Blu-ray release (loaded with supplements and featuring pristine PQ/AQ) you really cannot go wrong with this release if you are a fan. It's absolutely worthy of a purchase.

Highly Recommended.

Neil Lumbard is a lifelong fan of cinema, and a student who aspires to make movies. He loves writing, and currently does in Texas.

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