Spider-Man 2 is on the line between movie and film; it’s a balance of character and action, a film to appeal to both critics and Comic Con fanboys. While the action is abundant, the film also delves into its characters’ emotions and inner struggles that most superhero movies lack.
After all, what problems did Bruce Wayne really have? Sure, his parents were murdered when he was young, but what does he face on a daily basis other than his urge to reveal that he’s the one in the Batmobile? True, Peter Parker (Tobey Maguire), like all superheroes, deals with an identity crisis. But here, Parker is given further dimension as he downplays his love for Mary Jane (Kirsten Dunst) to save her life, fights to maintain the comradeship of Green Goblin-spawn Harry Osborn (James Franco, whose lines rarely exceed dribble about revenge and hate), and come to terms with his responsibility for his uncle’s death. While most of our uncles have never been murdered by a mugger and our aunts kidnapped by a mechanical octopus, the youthful Spider-Man is still one of the more identifiable heroes created because he has real problems.
But this isn’t to bench the action sequences that, while relying heavily on cartoonish visual effects, are some of the best captured in a superhero movie—then again, with excessive VFX that can make your character do literally anything (and a total budget of $200 mill), they better be damn good! The most impressive scene is the (extended) subway sequence, in which Doc Ock (Alfred Molina) exchanges blows with Spidey, whose skin is unveiled shortly thereafter.
Of course, Spider-Man 2 is often cheesy (‘Raindrops Keep Fallin’ On My Head’ just hasn’t been the same since Newman and Ross rode bicycles in Butch Cassidy and the Sundance Kid) and contains far too much exposition. While these faults can deter the experience, Spidey 2 overcomes them as it swings above generality into a wonderful film.
Spider-Man 2 is a new breed of superhero films. Unlike Daredevil, Hellboy, and The Fantastic Four, you don’t need to be first in line at the Comic Con to appreciate what is on screen. Director Sam Raimi (who has come a LONG way from The Evil Dead trilogy; dig the Bruce Campbell cameo) lifts a potentially flat story into a film that exceeds the original by leaps and bounds only Spidey could pull off. There is little that is commonplace with Spider-Man 2, a film that is disguised as a generic superhero movie, but when the mask is removed, unveils an action film with a heart, and new sense of what the comicbook film should represent.
Audio Commentary by Producer Laura Ziskin and Screenwriter Alvin Sargent: Ziskin’s mouse-like voice couldn’t be more irritating, while Sargent just wants to get the hell out of there. A strictly cast/Raimi commentary would have been ideal, but since it was also missing from the previous release as well, I wouldn’t expect it anytime soon.
The other feature on Disc One is Spidey Sense 2.1, a trivia track that runs with the film, along with BTS footage sprinkled throughout.
Inside Spider-Man 2.1 (13:35) takes a look at the process of reassembling deleted footage for this DVD release, using BTS footage and crew interviews. There are numerous on-screen comparisons between the theatrical Spidey and this 2.1 version.
With Great Effort Comes Great Recognition (7:52) is a feature with one goal in mind: kiss your own ass—so much so that a little bald fella named Oscar makes a special appearance.
VFX Breakdowns (32:36): This is a 5-part rundown of, you guessed it, the visual effects in Spider-Man 2.1. The Oscar-winning VFX artists are highly enthusiastic about their complex work. The boys (and girl) focus on a few key sequences, including the climactic train sequence.
Also on the second disc is a Multi-Angle with Danny Elfman’s Score (5:10). It’s always interesting to see the composer and their orchestra in action, particularly while we see bits from the film.
And rounding out the Spiderman 2.1 discs are a Spider-Man 3 Sneak Peek and Trailers.