Movie Reviews

August 25, 2014

The Amazing Spider-Man 2 Blu-Ray Review

The-Amazing-Spider-Man-2-Blu-Ray-Cover [This review originally appeared at movienerdsnetwork.com] THE MOVIE The Amazing Spider-Man 2 is a film that I very much have a love/hate relationship with. While there are things this film does that I absolutely love, there are at the same time many things that leave me scratching my head by the end of the film as it often leaves more questions than answers that it provides. As interesting as it may seem, The Amazing Spider-Man 2 is weirdly the antithesis of the film that it preceded. Whereas the first was going for a more grounded, serious approach, the second applies a playful, very comic book-y aesthetic to itself that while certainly is welcomed from a character approach, ultimately muddles the tone of series in an unexpected way. The-Amazing-Spider-Man-2-Image-#1 When dealing with the franchise film, the second chapter in a series (especially concerning comic book franchises) always has the tough job of not only extending what the first film did while expanding the franchise in a way that allows for both further development in both sequels and standalone films. The Amazing Spider-Man 2 certainly attempts to do this very thing, but the film’s ultimate downfall for me is that it tries to do too much. This not a case of Spider-Man 3 where there are too many villains (I think that mix is just right here), but rather fall into the trap of a film having too many storylines too follow through on in one film. At a certain point in the film, I start to question what story this film is actually trying to tell, and that for me never is a good sign. The-Amazing-Spider-Man-2-Image-#8 From the preceding storylines of peter having to deal with the mysterious disappearance of his father, the pressure to keep Gwen out of harms way, and the seemingly shady doings of Oscorp, this film also adds subplots that concern Harry’s return to Oscorp (as an origin for his late transformation), the whole electro origin, and many more world building plots that ultimately don’t add to the story in a significant way. It’s not that I don’t enjoy these individual scenes; in fact, I think that there are many individual scenes that (contained within themselves) are very well done. It’s the fact that none of these scenes add up to make an experience that is as satisfying as it’s individual parts are. The-Amazing-Spider-Man-2-Image-#6 As I mentioned earlier, the tone seems very muddled, even from scene to scene, and that’s my big issue with the film. I don’t think that director Marc Webb does a necessarily bad job with any scene in particular, it’s that he isn’t quite able to establish a consistent tone for the franchise, despite bringing many of the tonal traits of the spider-man that we all know and love from the comic books. You have scenes that feel very fun and playful, while some scenes are very serious and gritty, and those tones don’t ever seem to entirely coalesce for me. The action and performances are both great, and the score (Which was composed by Hans Zimmer) is far superior to that of the first film. With all of these great pieces in place, I cant help but ask myself why I feel almost nothing by the time that the end of this film arrives. RATING: 5/10  The-Amazing-Spider-Man-2-Image-#7 THE PICTURE As per usual, Sony delivers a superb 1080P transfer that is “mastered in 4K”. As opposed to shooting on digital as with the first film, Webb decided to shoot the second installment on film. I personally love the organic, natural feel that the choice displays on screen, and this transfer only further justifies that. The colors are vivid, and the tones themselves really pop. The brightening of both the blues and reds in the redesign of the spider-man suit is really felt here, and the overall comic book feel of the color palate allows for the maximum use of the format. The black levels are rich with depth, but never get lost within more or less The flesh tones are solid, and there is a thin, almost unnoticeable layer of film grain, along with a series of digital intermediates that help to make this the most polished Spider-Man release yet. Spider-Man has for over ten years now stood as the flagship franchise for Sony studios, and the home video presentation for that franchise has naturally followed suit, providing premiere quality video on yet another solid release. Rating: 10/10  The-Amazing-Spider-Man-2-Image-#5 THE SOUND As impressive as the video quality of this blu-ray is, the sound mix presented in the Amazing Spider-Man 2 is even more so. The sound here is presented in a DTS-HD Master Audio 5.1 lossless soundtrack that proves layered, nuanced sound design can and should be used even in the biggest films. The greatest thing about this mix in particular is the balance in which it operates. Webb knows when to let the bombastic score by Hans Zimmer play it’s course, and when to let the ambiance of some of the smaller scenes take control (or lack thereof). More so than this, all of the elements, effects, dialogue, and music never topple one another over. This is evident in the action scenes, and although they are very loud with Zimmer’s score behind them, the subtleties never get lost within the grandeur of it all. This is one of those mixes that only becomes impressive when watching with a proper 5 speaker setup, but when you do, it becomes hard to imagine watching the film without it. Rating: 10/10 The-Amazing-Spider-Man-2-Image-#2 SPECIAL FEATURES The supplemental package that is included in the blu-ray is quite spectacular, providing a very detailed look at the making of the film: Commentary: Led by writers Alex Kurtzman and Jeff Pinkner, along with producers Avi Arad and Matt Tolmach, this commentary gives a very detailed look into some of the thinking processes behind the making of the film. Despite what are some interesting ideas thematically that were brought to the film, and some tidbits here and there, this commentary is more or less run of the mill. Mark Webb is surprisingly absent here. Deleted & Alternate Scenes: (1080p, 23:01 total runtime): Peter Meets His Father (5:10), Cockpit Discovery (1:31), Flash Forward (1:09), Max’s Mother (1:41), Mayhem in the Morgue (1:26), Missing Each Other (2:15), Peter Visits Harry (4:21), Oxford Acceptance (1:04), Is Peter Home? (0:49), Chasing Gwen (1:48), Birth of the Goblin (1:27), Felicia Sees Her Boss (0:46), and Goblin Kills Menken (0:30). Also features optional commentary from Director Marc Webb. The Wages of Heroism: Making the Amazing Spider-Man 2 (1080p, 1:43:42 total Runtime): An engaging, six part making-of documentary that is by far the best piece of media on this disk, movie included.

  • Lessons Learned: Development and Direction (18:59): A complete look at the pre production process that Webb and company went through to get the film off it’s feet and running. The featurette discusses the thematic elements of the film, the introduction of new characters and the departure of old ones, along with some of the lessons that were learned from the making of the first film.
  • Heart of the City: Shooting in New York (12:34):This section of the documentary chronicles the filming of The Amazing Spider-Man 2, all of which took place in the state of New York. It also looks at the transition to shooting on film as opposed to digital like the last film, as well as some of the places that were used for shooting.
  • Triple Threat: Attack of the Villains (20:56): This detailed featurette covers the construction of the many of the set pieces that feature the three villains of the film. In particular, this featurette explores the lengths that Webb went to make the film as practical as possible, despite the numerous amounts of visual effects that are required to make the film possible. The high point of this documentary.
  • A More Dangerous World: Transforming Goblin and Electro (10:10): An intricate look at the way both Jamie Foxx and Dane Dehaan were transformed into their respective characters. With particular focus on the blend between practical and digital elements that were used to bring both the main villains to life, this segment proves to be worth a watch.
  • Bolt from the Blue: Visual Effects (17:52): Although it covers much of the same ground as some of the previous pieces, this featurette focuses on the visual effects work that was involved with a movie of this magnitude. The most interesting thing to come from this feature is the particular attention that the filmmakers paid to the way that spidey moves and swings throughout the film. Overall a very entertaining portion of the documentary that shows how the seams are blended to create a cohesive visual experience.
  • Spidey Gets His Groove Back: Music and Editing (24:09): A fairly lengthy segment that focuses solely on the creation of the score, along with the sound design. Particular emphasis is placed on the musical themes and motifs, along with the involvement of well-known artists such as Pharell. If there’s on drawback, it’s that the featurette flies by the editing portion all too quickly.

The Music of the Amazing Spider-Man 2 with Director Marc Webb (1080i, 8:08): Another smaller look at Hans Zimer’s influence on the storytelling process, as well as the ways that Marc Webb used the sound to tell the story. Music Video (1080p, 3:49): It’s On Again by Alicia Keys   The-Amazing-Spider-Man-2-Image-#3 THE VERDICT Although the Blu-ray for the Amazing spider-Man 2 boasts a number technical and supplemental achievements, the film never really lives up to the quality of the home video release that it is packaged with. While fans of the film or the character will certainly gain some satisfaction from this release, most will not be impressed with the disc as a whole. Disc Rating: 8/10



About the Author

Taylor Salan
Taylor Salan
Taylor Salan is a independent filmmaker who currently resides in the San Fernando Valley. Since childhood, Taylor Salan had a fascination with movies. Although he was an avid fan of film as a child, it wasn’t until his years as a young adult that his passion for the art of filmmaking truly came to fruition. A current student of the film production program at California State University Northridge, Taylor studies Cinematography but ultimately has plans to direct full time if afforded the opportunity. In his spare time, Taylor produces audio podcasts and blogs about film for ageofthenerd.com. He is also a longtime musician, playing drums for over 8 years.




 
 

 

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