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Reviews » DVD Video Reviews » Spider-Man 2.1
Spider-Man 2.1
Sony Pictures // PG-13 // April 17, 2007
List Price: $19.94 [Buy now and save at Amazon]
Review by Greg Elwell | posted April 6, 2007 | E-mail the Author
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C O N T E N T
V I D E O
A U D I O
E X T R A S
R E P L A Y
A D V I C E
Recommended
E - M A I L
this review to a friend
P R I N T
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If I knew nothing about the marketing of movies and DVDs, I would tell you that Spider-Man 2.1 is a great new cut of an already outstanding action movie.

Forget everything else when you watch this and it's great. The extra 8 minutes of footage add context, lengthen and deepen some emotional scenes, inject the funniest moment of the film and (surprisingly) add and extend fight scenes.

Fans of Spider-Man 2 will love this movie because it's more of what they already wanted.

Unfortunately, I know a little something about these extended cuts, especially from Marvel films.

This is a big money grab by the makers of the film, selling not only to those who didn't buy the first 2-disc set, but to those die-hard completists who must have everything Spider-Man related. (As one of those dorks, I sympathize.)

It's also a tie-in with the upcoming Spider-Man 3, due in theaters May 4.

None of that ruins this set, but it does leave a bitter taste in one's mouth.

The Movie

Peter Parker/Spider-Man (Tobey Maguire) is having a bad day. He's late for one job and gets fired. His next job, as a photographer for the Daily Bugle, isn't much better. His boss J. Jonah Jameson (J.K. Simmons in a hilarious and show-stealing turn) hates his alter-ego and wants Parker to give him the photos to destroy the wall-crawler.

Even when he negotiates for more money, it turns out he's already had an advance and must head home broke. At his aunt's house, he finds his friends waiting – it turns out Peter forgot his own birthday.

He's falling apart. Not only has it screwed up his professional life, but he's missing class and has screwed up his chances with the love of his life, Mary Jane Watson (Kirsten Dunst). Oh, yeah, and his best friend Harry Osborn (James Franco) thinks Spider-Man killed his dad and kind of blames Peter.

One turn of luck is that Harry can get him a meeting with scientist Dr. Otto Octavius (Alfred Molina) for a school report. Peter finds a kindred spirit in Octavius, a brilliant man who has found time for ambition and love.

Sadly, Otto's hubris ends in tragedy when a lab accident kills his wife and fuses his mechanical arms to his body.

In addition to all the external conflicts, Peter is questioning his actions and the lack of confidence is affecting his powers. Webs don't come out when he wants. His strength fades in and out and he can't always stick to walls.

The movie is, of course, about superheroics and Spider-Man's fight against "Doc Ock." But, true to the comics, it's also a soap opera. Spider-Man is broke. He lives in a crappy apartment with a crappier landlord.

The brilliance of this franchise is the seamless integration of character moments and non-action elements with the high-flying fights and derring-do of the comic book hero.

Fine character moments abound, but it is the CG and live-action fight sequences that are the showcase of the film. Spidey's battle with Doc Ock on the clock tower is exciting, but no where near the emotion- and adrenaline-charged high of the subway fight.

Better, I think, than the first movie, Spider-Man 2.1 reaches that extra inch beyond Spider-Man 2 for the added scenes.

The Picture

Mastered in high def and presented in 2.40:1 anamorphic widescreen, this is a beautiful thing to behold. Bright colors dazzle without being cartoony. CG effects blend with stunt work blend with principle characters for a total immersion experience It may not fool everybody all of the time, but it's about the best you'll see.

The Sound

Available in English, French, Portuguese and Spanish 5.1 Dolby Digital surround, this is a feast for the ears. Sirens come from all directions and the sounds of the city are expansive and clear.

The Extras

Aside from the added 8 minutes of movie footage (pay close attention to J. Jonah Jameson wearing the Spidey costume), the extras are where Spider-Man 2.1 falls down.

The featurettes are nothing compared to the Spider-Man 2 Widescreen Special Edition. There's only one commentary on the new set (instead of two on the previous edition) and it's with an executive director and a writer, rather than with the cast or crew.

The "Inside 2.1" featurette does little but showcase the added material and interviews seem to denigrate the need for the 2.1 cut.

A sneak peek at the third movie in the franchise and trailers for both Spider-Man 3 and the game accompanying the next movie are included.

The "Danny Elfman's Score" is interesting and allows multi-angle for commentary with the composer. "With Great Effort Comes Great Recognition" is mostly a bragging contest about awards the movie garnered.

The best of the bunch is the "VFX Breakdowns," which address the visual effects in the movie and how the scenes were built from conception to editing.

Still, all of it pales compared to the first special edition. "Spidey Sense 2.1" is a retread of the "Spidey Sense 2" on the first set. Missing are the art gallery, "Enter the Web" multi-angle featurette, and pieces on the villain, the women, the plot, etc.

Parting Thoughts...

I love this movie. I really do. And I love this cut of the movie because I think the added scenes, while not absolutely necessary, do expand and explain the movie better. Sadly, the dearth of special features makes this non-essential.

If all you care about is the movie, go ahead and get this 2-disc set. But if you already own it or are crazy about special features, it's a better buy to get the first cut of the movie. Because of that, Spider-Man 2.1 only gets a Recommended rating instead of going a notch higher.

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