003797Reviews & Counting
The New Adventures of Spider-Man
DVD disk
09.26.2004 By: The Shootin Surgeon
The New Adventures of Spider-Man order

Neil Patrick Harris
Lisa Loeb
Ian Ziering


star Printer-Friendly version
A return to Peter Parkerís (Harris) college days through MTVís animated series. You get to tag along with the Spider boy himself and his pals MJ (Loeb) and Harry Osborne (Ziering). If I have to get into explanations about what Parker does as a sideline, namely swinging from a web and nabbing criminals, then you're probably reading the wrong review.
Whether you enjoy this or not really depends on what you like about Spider-Man as a character. If youíre into Peter Parkerís character, his crew and surroundings, you may find all of this a tad too basic, but if youíre into the web-slinging action, then get ready to rock ní roll because this series takes it to the next level. I didnít really connect with the out-of-costume scenes myself. I thought the characters looked a bit odd and the dialogue was too airy. Once the familiar red and blue was donned though, the whole show took out a new lease on life. We donít get MTV in Canada so this was my first look at the series, so be warned newcomers: keep a plastic barf bag near you at all times when Spidey starts slinginí his webs! With rapid movements, quick cuts and sharp angles, the action is simply amazing and the quality of the animation really comes through as Ole Webhead takes you through a stroll in his whacked-out world of dizzying heights, tall buildings and insane villains.

The look is more akin to cell-shaded animation than the extremely detailed Disney-like stuff weíve seen in movies like SHREK and in other series, so it retains the essence of the comic book with the obligatory deviations from the form. Some new villains are introduced as well, but members of the usual rogue gallery are present like Electro, the Lizard, Kraven the Hunter and the ambiguous, yet super hot, Silver Sable among others. Even the Kingpin makes an appearance, only heís a black dude this time around. For some odd reason though, the change that annoyed me the most was the fact that Harry Osborne now has blonde hair. A minor distraction in what is a pretty damned good cartoon series.

The show also comes with one of the coolest opening themes and soundtracks. It's a mix of techno and electronic music with some rock mixed in that just blends into the thing so well, you'll be humming it for hours after you stop watching. If you're looking for something different and have a weakness for animation, then you'll be happy with this pickup as it has both action and lots of noise. You may even be tempted to run out to your nearest comic book Shoppe and reacquaint yourself with the greatest of all superheroes.
Audio Commentaries and Amazing Spider-Facts: These are actually two individual features that complement each other quite nicely. Director Audu Paden, along with a host of other crewmembers, hosts the commentaries on some of the episodes and delivers tidbits of info related to pretty much everything. Itís nothing particularly fascinating and itís not really the kind of series that compels you to learn about its ins and outs, but itís nice to have nonetheless. The Spider-Facts are pop-up bubbles containing bits of information. The info itself is hit and miss with a mix of cool and irrelevant stuff, but the biggest problem is the color contrast of the bubble which makes them damn hard to read.

The Making of Spider-Man (23 mins.): This documentary is mainly about Audu Paden and the concept of the series. Other guests include Stan Lee, Doogie Howser MD, Comic book writer Brian Michael Bendis and a few others. Itís as interesting as any other documentary discussing the creation of a series or movie, which means youíll probably only like it as much as you liked the product itself.

Spider-Man Tech: Creating the Models (12 mins.): I donít know about you, but Iím all "featured out" when it comes to seeing animators discuss how they create their characters. Yeah, they each have a different type of software that lets you do this or that, but to the uneducated mind who just wants a kick-ass show to watch, it does get a bit irrelevant when every single animated DVD has a feature like this. You can pass on this since chances are youíve seen similar pieces already.

Spider-Man Tech: Animating Performance (14 mins.): Similar to the feature mentioned above, this is nothing new. Itís a rundown of the techniques used to give the characters their facial and body expressions to match their moods and speech.

Spider-Man Music: The Composers (10 mins.): DJ John Digweed and Musician/Programmer John Muir are featured in this short briefing about the seriesí music, which happens to be as Spectacular and Amazing as Spider-Man himself.

Outtakes Reel (1 min.): A few little snippets of animator humor, which in this case, happens to be pretty funny.

Building with Layers (2 mins.): With the help of your remote controlís ďangleĒ button, you can access a short sceneís 5 different visual layers. Pretty neat, but again, nothing new.

Abandoned ďSpidey-SenseĒ Test (1 min.): This concept, introduced by Audu Paden is one of the ideas the creators had in mind for Spideyís vision when in danger. Itís a black and white Spidey.

Initial ďMainframeĒ Pitch (1 min.): Mainframe won the bid from the producers to animate the series with this pitch, showing Spider-Man flying around town on a web. Itís pretty freaky and a good idea of what the series looks like.

Rough Animation (2 mins.): Yet another standard on animation DVDís, this is a rough preview of one of the episodesí scenes. Not worth your time.

Production Artwork: A series of stills with character concepts and tests.
Lots of fun watching the episodes, but the extras, despite being decent on their own, are just too repetitive and similar to stuff youíve seen a thousand times before. Itís quick to watch but expect a lot of reruns on the tube for a while to come so you might want to rent this for a mass viewing and then mooch off the repeats.
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