Blu-ray
Highly Recommended
4 stars
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Overall Grade
4 stars

(click linked text below to jump to related section of the review)

The Movie Itself
3.5 Stars
HD Video Quality
5 Stars
HD Audio Quality
5 Stars
Supplements
2.5 Stars
High-Def Extras
4 Stars
Bottom Line
Highly Recommended

The Amazing Spider-Man 2

Street Date:
August 19th, 2014
Reviewed by:
Review Date: 1
August 18th, 2014
Movie Release Year:
2014
Studio:
Sony
Length:
142 Minutes
MPAA Rating:
PG-13
Release Country
United States

The Movie Itself: Our Reviewer's Take

Every summer we're greeted with big-budget comic book movies. Each studio trying to outdo one another at the box office with grandiose tales of heroes and villains. ‘The Amazing Spider-Man 2' subscribes to the typical crash-bang mayhem of the summer movie season. At times the movie can be exhausting as its bloated CGI-enhanced battle scenes are drawn out as far as they can be without simply making the entire movie one big fight scene. Yet, there's something to really respect about these new Spider-Man movies. Underneath all that computer-generated carnage is a superhero movie that doesn't shy away from dire consequences. A welcome change to the present Marvel/Disney anthology where changing the status quo is not only frowned upon, it appears to be feared.

Marc Webb's initial reboot of ‘Spider-Man' caught me by surprise. I wasn't expecting Sony's blatant attempt to keep the rights to the character to also be a movie that I greatly enjoyed watching. The second one outdoes the first in many ways. Yes, I have my complaints, not the least of which is the movie's distended special effects. Some of the musical choices are downright groan-inducing. Playing Phillip Phillips' "Gone Gone Gone" during Peter Parker's (Andrew Garfield) character-building, I'm-going-to-find-my-father montage is shamelessly obvious – "And I would do it for you!" 

What's appealing about Webb's superhero vision is how willingly he puts aside the geekier aspects of the comic book world and sets out to focus more on the characters instead. He isn't too interested in showcasing costume making, gadget building, and superfluous exposition. Even though the movie does contain some of all of those things, it isn't directly about those things, which makes it feel a little fresher.

In ‘The Amazing Spider-Man', Peter promised Gwen Stacy's (Emma Stone) father that he'd stay away from her as long as he devoted his life to crime-fighting and life-saving. Peter is simply too dangerous of a boyfriend to have. With palpable chemistry between Garfield and Stone, watching them try to balance this tricky relationship is one of the most satisfying parts of this story.

We also have Peter delicately balancing his relationship with Aunt May (Sally Field). A bond fraught with secrets and withheld resentment after the passing of beloved Uncle Ben (Martin Sheen). There's best friend Harry Osborn (Dane DeHaan), who is dying from the same rare genetic condition that killed his rich, unloving father. Harry needs Spider-Man's blood, but Peter is afraid his blood could do more harm than good.

Then we have Max (Jamie Foxx). Max is a reclusive, needy scientist working for Oscorp. From the outset, Max's introduction is almost comical. His pocket protector, mumbling, and comb-over are screenplay shorthand for "Hey, this dude is a real nerd!" However, the screenplay transforms Max into a much more interesting character than his stereotypes make him out to be. He's dangerously obsessive and emotionally unhinged. In any other movie he'd be the prime suspect in a string of grisly murders.

After being saved by Spider-Man, Max forms an unhealthy obsession with the web-slinging hero. So much so that he finds himself talking to himself in the morning, pretending Spider-Man is there. They're best buds. Then Max is involved in a workplace accident. Genetically mutated electric eels attack him. Their energy transfers to him. In an instant, worthless little Max is transformed into a Dr. Manhattan like god of pure energy. What does someone that insecure do with that much power?

Once the final act rolls around and the CGI battles churn endlessly, the movie goes on auto-pilot for a while. Character studies have been replaced by explosions, lightning, and Spidey cracking jokes in the midst of imminent danger. Yet, all this chaos isn't without its lasting consequences. That's what makes ‘The Amazing Spider-Man 2' worth it in the end. It isn't petrified of changing the status quo. 

The Blu-ray: Vital Disc Stats

This is a two-disc set. It comes with one 50GB Blu-ray and a DVD. There is also a code to unlock a UltraViolet Digital Copy. The two discs are packaged in a generic keepcase and surrounded by a standard slipcover. The back of the case indicates that this a Region A release.

The Video: Sizing Up the Picture

Not too many blockbusters are shot on film anymore, but ‘The Amazing Spider-Man 2' is. This gives the 1080p image a very rich, cinematic look. In high-def it looks flawless. A wonderfully deep picture that never wavers in clarity. The CGI is never called into question by the crystalline visuals either. It all looks utterly superb.

I don't think you'd expect anything less from a recent Sony release. This is demo-worthy material from beginning to end. With distinct clarity and attention to detail, ‘The Amazing Spider-Man 2' Blu-ray offers up a robust video experience. Fine detail is optimal, whether the camera is gliding around New York filming Spidey as he swings in between historic skyscrapers, or when it captures small moments between Peter and Gwen in a small alley. It all look fantastic. Close-ups are full of all sorts of clearly defined facial features. Long-shots take in the entirety of New York without missing a single thing.

Black areas remain controlled the entire time. I didn't notice any unsightly banding, even during the tricky fade-in scene that begins the movie. Those are usually where banding can be spotted, and there isn't anything there at all. This is one of the best looking Blu-rays of the year.

The Audio: Rating the Sound

Originally mixed for Dolby Atmos consumption in the theaters (perhaps a re-release once Dolby Atmos home theaters become common?), ‘The Amazing Spider-Man 2' sounds just as great as it looks. Possibly even better.

The surround sound capability of this release is off-the-charts great. This is a fully immersive DTS-HD Master Audio 5.1 mix. Even if a 7.1 mix were provided, I'm not sure it'd be any better than what we're offered here. That's because the 5.1 mix is so well-produced and perfectly prioritized that it creates an all-encompassing listening environment. The rear channels feature a ton of action. Both Spidey vs. Electro fights send all sorts of action to the rear channels. As they fly around the screen beating each other up the sound flies with them without missing a beat. The transitions from speaker to speaker are flawless.

The LFE is as deep as it gets. Electro's power thrives on deep thundering bass. The sub is constantly working overtime as the movie is full of multiple action scenes and soundtrack choice that need the accompaniment of thundering bass.

The Supplements: Digging Into the Good Stuff

  • Audio Commentary – Producers Avi Arad and Matt Tomach are joined by writers Alex Kurtzman and Jeff Pinker to discuss the film at hand. It's a lively commentary, which talks about the deeper themes the screenplay represents, the difficulties of writing stories for such beloved characters, anecdotes from the set, and just about anything else you might want to know from a commentary. As far as commentaries go it's fairly in-depth. Would've been nice to have some actors fully involved in the proceedings, but there's enough here to make it worthwhile.

  • The Music of ‘The Amazing Spider-Man 2' with Director Marc Webb (HD, 8 min.) – Music talk as Webb covers the score and Han Zimmer's work.

  • Music Video (HD, 4 min.) – Alicia Keys performs "It's On Again."

HD Bonus Content: Any Exclusive Goodies in There?

  • Deleted and Alternate Scenes (HD, 23 min.) – There are 13 deleted scenes in all. So much material that a director's cut should've been available I think. Having these here is nice though. The big deleted scene is the one entitled "Peter Meets His Father" which runs a good five minutes. I won't spoil it here, but it certainly is a deleted scene that lives up to the hype as far as I'm concerned. The other scenes are: "Cockpit Discovery," "Flash Forward," "Max's Mother," "Mayhem in the Morgue," "Missing Each Other," "Peter Visits Harry," "Oxford Acceptance," "Is Peter Home?" "Birth of the Goblin," "Chasing Gwen," "Felicia Sees Her Boss," and "Goblin Kills Menken." Marc Webb offers optional commentary for each scene.

  • The Wages of Heroism: Making ‘The Amazing Spider-Man 2' (HD, 105 min.) – Wow, this six-part feature is full of everything you'd want to know about how Webb, cast, and crew created the next Spidey adventure. "Lessons Learned: Development and Direction" (19 min.) is an overview of many of the movie's main characters. It also discusses the development of themes and ideas started in the first movie and carrying them on through this one. "Heart of the City: Shooting in New York (13 min.) is a feature showing what it was like shooting in the Big Apple for the entirety of the shoot. "Triple Threat: Attack of the Villains" (21 min.) takes on the action scenes involving the various villains of ‘The Amazing Spider-Man 2,' how they were shot, and what kind of work went into them. "A More Dangerous World: Transforming Goblin and Electro (10 min.) is your standard "How did they do that?" feature that covers the transformation Foxx and DeHaan went through as they changed from mere humans into super villains. "Bolt from the Blue: Visual Effects" (18 min.) is an exhaustive summary of the visual effects, both computer-generated and practical, that went into the movie. We see more coverage on the creation of the three main action scenes in the movie. "Spidey Get His Groove Back: Music and Editing" (24 min.) explores the most tedious part of the entire movie, the soundtrack and music design.

Final Thoughts

Many aren't down with Webb's vision of Spider-Man, but I am. The way he treats the characters, tip-toes through their relationships, and isn't afraid to change up what's perceived as comfortable creates a satisfying unknown. Something that is sorely missing in the Disney/Marvel ‘Avengers' storyline. With demo-worthy audio and video, and a truckload of special features, ‘The Amazing Spider-Man 2' is highly recommended viewing.

Technical Specs

  • Blu-ray/DVD/UltraViolet

Video Resolution/Codec

  • 1080p/AVC MPEG-4

Aspect Ratio(s)

  • 2.40:1

Audio Formats

  • English: DTS-HD Master Audio 5.1
  • French: DTS-HD Master Audio 5.1
  • Spanish: Dolby Digital 5.1

Subtitles/Captions

  • English, English SDH, French Spanish

Supplements

  • Audio Commentary with filmmakers
  • Four All-New Deleted Scenes with Commentary by Marc Webb
  • The Wages of Heroism: Making The Amazing Spider-Man 2
  • Alicia Keys "It's On Again" music video

Exclusive HD Content

  • Nine Additional Deleted Scenes with Commentary by Marc Webb

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