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STUDIO Sony Pictures Home Entertainment
RUNNING TIME 136 Min
- Audio Commentary: Director Webb and producers Avi Arad and Matt Tolmach deliver a thoughtful and engaging commentary.
- Second Screen Experience: (1080p): Perhaps the greatest thing to ever happen to special features and how film fans experience them moving forward.
- Previews: Additional Sony titles.
- Rite of Passage: The Amazing Spider-Man Reborn (1080p, 1:49:49): A seven part documentary chronicling the reboot’s journey from drawing board to theatrical release.
- Deleted Scenes (1080p, 17:00):
- Pre-Visualization (1080p, 39:08)
- The Oscorp Archives Production Art Gallery (1080p)
- Image Progression Reels (1080p)
- Stunt Rehearsals (1080p, 11:52)
- Developing The Amazing Spider-Man Video Game (1080p, 3:30)
- DVD Copy of The Amazing Spider-Man
Sam Raimi and Tobey Maguire wanted Vulture and no 3D. Sony then decided they wanted not Sam Raimi and Tobey Maguire. So they hopped a bus to Reboot City.
Marc Webb (director), Andrew Garfield, Emma Stone, Rhys Ifans, Sally Field, Martin Sheen
Kid’s mysterious parents ditch him, he gets bit by a genetically altered spider, becomes a superhero, saves the day, gets the girl. And his uncle gets killed along the way.
Such a divisive film The Amazing Spider-Man was. I didn’t envy Sony or director Marc Webb. Even though Raimi and company had walked away, the franchise never felt dead. You can blame Batman. And it doesn’t start at Begins. Batman Forever / & Robin went a long way in cooling studios on the prospect of sequilizing without maintaining original cast and crew. What would a Spider-Man 4 have looked like without Raimi or Maguire? Given that Sony was never not going to make another Spider-Man (and, Raimi or no Raimi, in 3D) movie, a reboot was perhaps their best avenue.
Their mistake was in revisiting Parker’s origins. A decade after Raimi’s take first hit theatres, there’s still an awkward fog over everything as we find ourselves back at the beginning. Worse yet, James Vanderbilt’s script is something of a mess. There’s a subplot involving Peter’s parents that’s introduced only to have been hacked off right before the theatrical release. Vanderbilt can’t be blamed for that, but between and underwritten villain and several other subplots left dangling (Uncle Ben’s murderer?) the script is Amazing’s greatest weakness. The movie could just as easily been called Everything is Peter’s Fault. He gets his uncle killed, he introduces the component that turns Connors into the Lizard and finally, he leaves a main supporting player to guard the Lizard only for the Lizard to kill that player dead. Then, at the end of the film, he breaks the promise he made to honor that character’s dying wish. So yeah, Peter’s actually kind of dick here.
And yet, I like the film. I can’t defend the script, but I can tout some of the choices that Webb and Garfield make for both the film and the character. This is the film equivalent to Marvel’s line of Ultimate comics. Raimi’s films were a great many things, but they weren’t exactly modern. This is a Spider-Man for the times, and more than that it’s a teenage Spider-Man for the times. The angst, the predisposition to self-involvement, it feels natural. Is it natural to Peter Parker? That can be a matter of debate among the diehards. I accepted Garfield’s take. Interestingly, his Spider-Man feels more alive than Parker in the film. So while the performance feels truer to Spider-Man than the earlier films, it feels further away from Peter Parker.
Webb succeeds in maintaining a steady balance of action and drama throughout, though he takes his time in getting Garfield into the suit. It’s scenes like the bridge rescue or the high school brawl that give the film its kicks. And it didn’t hurt that Webb shot the best looking 3D film I’d seen up to that point (Life of Pi will blow everything away). Not much is lost in the transition from 3D to Blu-ray, as it’s still a gorgeous film.
More than anything, Amazing‘s worth hinges on its followup. It’s a lot of setup and one gets the impression that the payoff is still hopefully somewhere down the line. There are too many dangling threads and plot hiccups to give it a complete pass, but what works works and as a passable reboot the studio could certainly find themselves in worse places. Not as good as its defenders argue nor as bad as its most ardent detractors would lead you to believe, The Amazing Spider-Man is simply decent blockbuster spectacle – everything it needed to be an not a single thread more.
This set is loaded, just look at the special features above. The commentary and the docs are all well and good. What absolutely makes this Blu a worthwhile endeavor is the Second Screen feature, which I personally had never encountered before.
I think the X-Men DVD was the first place to do it, but I remember a feature where you could click during certain points in the film and it would take you to a quick interview or “making of” featurette. Second Screen is like that, only to the Nth degree. You download the free app on your iPad (or Sony tablet) and as the app progresses it moves in step with the movie playing on your (Wi-Fi capable) Blu-ray player. I started the film, booted the app, and instantaneously the machines were already talking to eachother.
From storyboards to interviews to stunt tests and previz, my tablet moved to the beat of the film throwing all sorts of movie-making data into my head guts. I’m a nerd for the little touches, and I loved that whenever I played an interview during the film the volume on the movie would turn down so I could hear the tablet. The best part is that it’s all optional. So if something comes up on Second Screen that you don’t want to see or hear, you don’t have to. Just don’t engage the tablet and it’ll move on to the next thing as the movie gets there.
For me it’s the best, most organic interaction I’ve had with a special features experience. And I hope more studios take notice, because it’s absolutely the way of the future. For this one feature alone, I can’t recommend this set enough. It really is that big of a game changer for special feature hounds like myself.
Out of a Possible 5 Stars