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Sony Pictures Home Entertainment presents
Spider-Man 2.1 (2004)

"Find him, or I'll peel the flesh off her bones."
- Doctor Octopus (Alfred Molina)

Review By: Chuck Aliaga  
Published: April 16, 2007

Stars: Tobey Maguire
Other Stars: Kirsten Dunst, James Franco, Alfred Molina, Rosemary Harris, Donna Murphy, Daniel Gillies, Aasif Mandvi, J.K. Simmons
Director: Sam Raimi

MPAA Rating: Not Rated for (stylized action violence)
Run Time: 02h:15m:39s
Release Date: April 17, 2007
UPC: 043396170230
Genre: action

Image Transfer
Audio Transfer
A+ A+AA- B+

DVD Review

A common DVD trend is new, extended cuts of blockbuster movies seeing the light of day a few weeks before their sequel's multiplex premiere. With Spider-Man 3 hitting the big screen in a couple of weeks, the newest of these releases is the creatively titled Spider-Man 2.1. Boasting an extended cut of the original film and new extra features spread out over two discs, I couldn't wait to find out if this was worth fans' time or simply another case of the studio bleeding more money out of us.

When we left Spider-Man/Peter Parker (Tobey Maguire), he had just killed The Green Goblin, the father of his best friend, Harry Osborn (James Franco). Now, Pete has just lost his job as a pizza delivery guy, and is losing the love of his life, Mary Jane Watson (Kirsten Dunst) to both another man, John Jamieson (Daniel Gillies) and his alter-ego, Spider-Man. To top it off, one of Pete's idols, Doctor Otto Octavius (Alfred Molina) loses his wife, Rosalie (Donna Murphy) in an experiment that goes horribly wrong. This tragedy leaves Otto with steel tentacles lodged in his back, which he soon uses to take out his anger on Spider-Man and the world.

Three years and three DVD releases later, I'm willing to bet that the question on everyone's mind involves the quantity and quality of the advertised extended footage. This begins with a bit more dialogue between Peter Parker and his boss, pizza parlor owner Mr. Aziz (Aasif Mandvi). There's many other nice little extensions here and there, including much more dialogue between Spidey and Hal Sparks' character in the elevator, longer fights between Doc Oc and the Web Slinger, and juicy bits from Bruce Campbell's theater usher.

We see our first proof of just how compelling the new footage is during Peter's birthday party. What was a short exchange with Harry in the original version is extended, with the Green Goblin's son practically foaming at the mouth when talking to Pete about his "friend," Spider-Man. This makes his burning desire for revenge and discovery of Spider-Man's identity all the more earth-shattering, and, judging from the trailers, sets up a climactic showdown in Spider-Man 3.

The most interesting and fun scene occurs just after J. Jonah Jamieson is given the Spider-Man costume. In the original release all we see is a brief scene with J.J.J. reveling in his new acquisition. The extended cut shows him actually put the costume on, jump on his desk, and mimic Spidey's web-slinging ability. Again, this is extremely fun to watch, but it could also be the most polarizing new clip. This shows a softer, slightly psychotic side of the gruff, mean newspaper man, which might prove to be too much of a stretch for such a firmly established character in both the films and the decades-old comic books. I see it as a great excuse to watch J.K. Simmons hamming it up as only he can.

If you're looking for a new finale or drastically different plot points to alter the course of the franchise, Raimi and company thankfully stay away from that here. Still, the new material adds to the epic feel of the film that was already in place, and is therefore more than welcome. It's always dicey when you mess with perfection, yet extremely fulfilling when said perfection is actually improved upon, and this 2-disc set could be a precedent-setter as a result.

Rating for Style: A+
Rating for Substance: A+


Image Transfer

Aspect Ratio2.40:1 - Widescreen
Original Aspect Ratioyes

Image Transfer Review: This 2.40:1 anamorphic widescreen presentation is a marked improvement over the original release and on par with the Superbit disc. A bright, red-driven color scheme is a constant for this franchise, and this transfer delivers the goods, with well-rendered hues and natural fleshtones throughout. The images are very crisp and sharp, with no loss of detail at any point. There's no edge enhancement or other major flaws, despite a couple of hints of grain.

Image Transfer Grade: A


Audio Transfer

 LanguageRemote Access
Dolby Digital
English, French, Portuguese, Spanishyes

Audio Transfer Review: The Dolby Digital 5.1 audio also improves over the original release, but can't quite match the Superbit's DTS track. Still, the mix utilizes an active sound field powered by aggressive bass that adds quite a bit of oomph to the action sequences. The dialogue remains crisp and clear regardless of the scene's intensity and bombast, and the music is well-integrated into the overall mix.

Audio Transfer Grade: A-


Disc Extras

Full Motion menu with music
Scene Access with 52 cues and remote access
Subtitles/Captions in English, French, Spanish, Portuguese with remote access
1 Other Trailer(s) featuring Spider-Man 3
1 Documentaries
4 Featurette(s)
1 Feature/Episode commentary by Laura Ziskin and Alvin Sargent.
Packaging: Keep Case
Picture Disc
2 Discs
1-Sided disc(s)
Layers: dual

Extra Extras:
  1. "Spidey Sense 2.1" - Interactive feature displaying behind-the-scenes information and footage during the film.
Extras Review: The extras are split up over two discs with Disc 1 housing an audio commentary track with Laura Ziskin and Alvin Sargent. This is a nice chat from this real-life husband and wife who have a nice rapport as they go through many intricate details about the film.

There's also "Spidey Sense 2.1," which, when activated, displays real-time behind-the-scenes footage and factoids during the film. This is a nice feature that provides even more production goodies, as well as information about how the storyline relates to the comic book.

Disc 2 begins with a pair of featurettes. Inside Spider-Man 2.1 is a 13-minute look at what went into coming up with this brand-new cut of an instant classic. We get a better look at the new footage, while those behind it discuss the intricate details. The nearly eight-minute With Great Effort, Comes Great Recognition sits down with the visual effects team, who reflect on their Oscar-night experience.

The "Visual Effects Breakdown" is split into five parts, running a total of 32 minutes. Each segment touches on a different aspect of the effects work, but we hear from the best in the business throughout, including visual effects supervisors John Dykstra and Scott Stokdyk, and miniatures supervisor Eric Durst.

Danny Elfman Scores Spider-Man 2 is available to watch from two different angles. Running for just over five minutes, we're able to watch the musicians in action with simply their music, or we can switch "angles" and watch Elfman discuss his process.

Possibly the most popular feature is the "Spider-Man 3 Sneak Peek." This lasts a mere two-and-a-half minutes, and consists of clips from the new movie and cast and crew interviews. Finishing up the second disc is the first theatrical trailer for Spider-Man 3 and a look at that film's video game adaptation.

Extras Grade: B+


Final Comments

On the surface, Spider-Man 2.1 is another pathetic example of studios double-dipping on one of their most successful titles to make another quick buck. However, this is the rare case where the result is an engrossing movie experience that actually trumps the original. The audio and video presentations are an improvement too, while nice extras fill both discs.


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