Spider-Man: Limited Edition Collection - 4K Ultra HD Blu-rayOverview -
Swing into action with the groundbreaking original cinematic Spider-Man trilogy, from director Sam Raimi. Join Peter Parker (Tobey Maguire) as he becomes the iconic web-slinging Spider-Man, battles super-villains Green Goblin, Doc Ock, Sandman and Venom, wins the heart of Mary Jane Watson (Kirsten Dunst), and learns that with great power, comes great responsibility. Packaged in a limited edition collectible 36-page Digibook featuring photos and behind-the-scenes detail.
Storyline: Our Reviewer's Take
If there's one good thing to come out of Hollywood's love affair with film franchises, it's that now, even before a movie proves itself to be a blockbuster, usually the cast and filmmakers have already been contractually locked in for later sequels. That means that the guy you fell in love with playing Spider-Man in the first movie is almost certain to be the same guy you'll see in Part III. Likewise, the behind-the-scenes talent is also often in it for the long haul, giving many of today's biggest franchises a unified consistency of tone, approach and performance that's quite unique to recent cinema.
Maybe that's why I find a franchise like Spider-Man more compelling than, say, those old Batman films of the late '80s and early '90s. Instead of a series of patchwork sequels featuring a bunch of different guys in a Batsuit, guided by a bunch of different directors (each with seemingly contradictory visions), with Spider-Man, much of the creative team has been on board since day one. It's always Sam Raimi behind the camera. It's always Tobey Maguire in the Spidey costume. And even the supporting characters and subplots have been constructed with care and attention to an eventual trilogy in mind. That makes all three Spider-Man films feel less like a bunch of strung-together episodes, and more like one cohesive, six-odd-hour motion picture with three well-designed and perfectly-proportioned acts.
Much of the credit for the success of the films belongs, of course, to Sam Raimi. Arriving on the scene in 1981 with his classic cult-horror film The Evil Dead, over the course of the next twenty years Raimi continued to hone his craft as a filmmaker to the point where by the time he landed 2002's Spider-Man, he wasn't just a cult director who got lucky, but rather an accomplished filmmaker who at last found the project he'd been preparing to make all along.
The first film was the perfect commercial marriage between a piece of iconic, classic comic book pulp and a filmmaker with a wholly unique visual sensibility tailor-made for the material. Even more importantly, Raimi clearly had a passion for the character that transcended the obviously engineered, audience-pleasing elements of what was clearly meant to be a "franchise starter" of a picture. This was so much the case that, when Spider-Man ultimately went on to gross nearly a billion dollars worldwide, it didn't seem like a cynical victory of marketing over substance but instead a triumph of genuinely earnest, populist moviemaking.
Since there is likely no one reading this who doesn't already know who Spider-Man is, I won't bore you with a plot recap of the trilogy. Instead, I'll just praise Raimi and his stable of screenwriters for the thoughtfulness of their narrative construction. What's rare about the Spider-Man trilogy is that each installment works as a self-contained adventure, but is even more emotionally resonant when taken as a whole. Raimi and company set up a strong cast of characters in the first film, gave them coherent arcs that blossom in the second, then actually resolved all of the dangling plot threads by the end of the third. It's a most welcome approach that respects the audience's intelligence, and owes far more to such well-planned literary works as the Lord of the Rings and Harry Potter novels than the "let's just make this up as we go along" school of filmmaking more traditionally common to franchise films. If only George Lucas had followed the Raimi playbook when he conceived the Star Wars prequels, we might never have been subjected to all that Midi-Chlordians business, or Jar Jar Binks.
One phenomenon that the Spider-Man films seem to share with many movie trilogies (including the original Star Wars films) is that the second installment is the best of the bunch. Indeed, both critics and audiences widely agreed that Spider-Man 2 was the most exciting, most emotional and most enthralling of the series. Much like Luke Skywalker's struggle in the The Empire Strikes Back, there is something particularly compelling about a hero when he's at his low point, after he's just learned some big painful truth about his past and seems to have lost it all. Then, just as screen fades to black, we're left salivating at how the third chapter will wrap it all up. In Spider-Man 2, the web really gets tangled for Peter Parker, and the complications are so juicy that Spider-Man 3 could only pale in comparison.
But never mind that. Spider-Man is not only one of the best comic book adaptations ever to come out of Hollywood, but also the most cohesive. Sure, the first film is loaded down by a lot of exposition, while the third is overtaxed by too many villains and needless subplots, but these are minor quibbles. As a whole, the Spider-Man trilogy is a great thrill ride -- a terrific evocation of an iconic character, and a surprisingly resonant experience that actually improves upon repeated viewings. What more could you ask for from a big-screen comic book series?
Vital Disc Stats: The Ultra HD Blu-ray
Sony Pictures Home Entertainment brings Sam Raimi's original Spider-Man trilogy to 4K Ultra HD Blu-ray as a seven-disc Limited Edition digibook style combo pack. Included is a flyer for UltraViolet Digital Copies of all three movies, which can be redeemed via sonypictures.com/uvredeem or through VUDU but only available in HD SDR and HDX.
The package is shaped and opens much like a book with new artwork corresponding to each movie. Those same pages also serve as sleeves for each disc which slide out by placing some slight pressure to the top and bottom, widening the mouth a little. The inside is smooth and glossy to prevent the discs from scratching. Attached inside is a 40-page booklet with three essays detailing the production history of each film and the immense work that went into adapting them for the big screen.
Three dual-layered UHD66 discs are accompanied by three more Region Free, BD50 discs while the seventh BD50 disc, labeled "Bonus Disc," contains the "Editor's Cut" of Spider-Man 3. At startup, each disc goes straight to an interactive menu screen that changes when switching between the usual options while music plays in the background.
Previously released as a "Mastered in 4K" Blu-ray, this new UHD is likely from the same source, but overall resolution (1.85:1) doesn't offer a massive upgrade, which is not bad. The fine lines in clothing, buildings and costumes remain pretty sharp with a few softer moments spread throughout. Also, faces can be revealing with lifelike tones, but there are also times when complexions appear pale and sickly. An improved contrast displays brighter whites, making daylight sequences really pop, though it does run a bit hot in a few areas, creating a bit of blooming and slight white-washing in the skies. Although specular highlights are not noteworthy and there's a loss of fine detailing in the brightest spots, lights gleam off metal surfaces and edges with realism. Black levels are rich and inky, for the most part, with excellent visibility in the darkest portions. Primaries receive the biggest boost, especially when Peter and Norman don their costumes. A wider array of softer hues provides warmth and better coloring in the faces. (Video Rating: 3.5/5)
Like its predecessor, the web-slinger faces the challenges of adulthood with an HEVC H.265 encode that was probably struck from the same 4K remaster as the previous Blu-ray. Although definition receives a nice uptick, overall resolution remains pretty average compared to other UHDs. Clean, well-defined lines in the clothing and buildings are sharply detailed, and facial complexions are revealing, though are also often pale and sickly. The 2.40:1 image is awash with natural grain, giving it a nice, film-like quality. The video comes with a wider array of warm, vivid secondary hues, and primaries are richly-saturated and highly animated. Contrast is brighter with crisper, more brilliant whites and improved highlights along metallic edges and in the glow of various light sources. Only, as with the first movie, there is the occasional blooming ruining some of the finer details. But the saving grace is the improved brightness levels providing rich, silky blacks and excellent shadows detailing throughout. (Video Rating: 3.5/5)
The final installment in the trilogy swings to UHD with an excellent HEVC encode, which was presumably struck from the same 4K digital intermediate used for the Blu-ray.
Immediately apparent is the better detailing and overall resolution, showing excellent sharply-defined lines in the lettering of buildings and billboards, in the clothing and costumes, and in various aspects of the New York streets. Facial complexions are highly revealing with lifelike textures in close-ups, though the cast again, did seem somewhat pale and sickly in a few sequences, and there were some minor instances of aliasing along the sharpest edges. Improved brightness levels deliver silky, midnight blacks with superb gradational differences in Peter's all-black suit. A crisper, more brilliant contrast provides the 2160p video with an energetic pop while whites radiate throughout. Specular highlights are arguably the best improvement, giving the edges of buildings and various metal objects a genuine luster while making the light glow off faces and Venom's suit realistically. The overall palette is also more polished and refined with primaries looking a bit more vivid and animated and a welcomed wider array of secondary hues. (Video Rating: 4/5)
Peter Parker learns great responsibility thanks to the power of Dolby Atmos, which offers a nice improvement over its TrueHD counterpart, generating a more spacious and broader soundstage. The mix delivers better clarity and detailing in the mid-range, and Danny Elfman's score enjoys the extra breathing room, exhibiting excellent distinction between the various instruments. Imaging displays strong channel separation and balance with exceptional fluid panning from one speaker to the next. Vocals are precise and intelligible while low bass is accurate and responsive with a couple authoritative moments. Just as before, the design comes with outstanding atmospherics in the surroundings, and they occasionally travel into the overheads with great directionality and placement. On the other hand, those same effects also come off forced and artificial at distractingly louder decibels. However, the best moment is when Norman first hears the voice of Green Goblin echoing from above. (Audio Rating: 3.5/5)
Balancing adulthood with being a superhero is made more fun and thrilling thanks to a fantastic, reference-quality Dolby Atmos soundtrack. The mid-range comes with room-penetrating clarity and distinction in the loudest, ear-piercing moments while a highly-engaging soundstage feels expansive and spacious with lots of background activity. Many of those effects spread into the surrounds and ceiling channels, filling the room with the hustle and bustle of city traffic or the cracking thunder of an incoming storm overhead, creating an awesome hemispheric soundfield. When Spidey shoots his web and swings through the air, it can be heard discretely hitting their targets in the sides and in the ceilings. Doc Ock's mechanical arms fluidly move from one speaker to the next and even above the listening area, making it feel as though they were swinging about in the room. Meanwhile, vocals remain precise and distinct amid the loud chaos and deafening battles. The low-end is terrifically responsive and authoritative with a powerful rumble, especially when the Doc decides to walk on his mechanical arms, providing each threatening stomp with a wall-rattling, couch-shaking weight. (Audio Rating: 4.5/5)
Spider-Man battles one too many villains with a first-rate Dolby Atmos soundtrack that out dances its TrueHD and PCM predecessors. Similar to the sequel, the original design lends itself wonderfully to the object-based format, delivering lots of activity in the ceiling channels, especially when those aforementioned baddies make an appearance. Harry's hoverboard flies in every direction of the room, individual granules of sand discretely move between the surrounds and overhead, and Venom's screechy roars echo all around. A highlight is when Spidey saves Gwen and debris feels as though raining down everywhere, and there's also the scene with a kidnapped MJ sitting in the taxi and Venom's webs vibrate above. Imaging is equally fantastic with background activity continuously employing all three channels, displaying outstanding balance and separation. The score spreads across the entire area evenly with superb fidelity, and the mid-range exhibits detailed clarity in the highest frequencies. The low-end is not quite as impressive, but it nonetheless provide action sequences with some serious oomph and weight while vocals remain distinct and precise at all times. (Audio Rating: 4.5/5)
Audio Commentaries: Kirsten Dunst joins filmmakers Sam Raimi, Grant Curtis and Laura Ziskin on the first track. The second features a conversation between Tobey Maguire and J.K. Simmons while third commentary is between the visual effects designer and crew.
Spider-Man: The Mythology of the 21st Century (SD, 25 min).
HBO Making of (SD, 25 min).
"Spider-Mania" An E! Entertainment Special (SD, 41 min).
Gags & Outtakes (SD, 3 min).
Director & Composer Profiles (SD, 15 min).
Behind the Scenes (SD, 32 min).
Screen Tests (SD, 5 min).
Music Videos (SD).
Easter Eggs (SD, 9 min).
Audio Commentaries: Available only on the Theatrical Version, Tobey Maguire joins director Sam Raimi and producers Avi Arad and Grant Curtis while the second track is a technical commentary with the visual effects crew. The third track is on the Extended Version with producers Alvin Sargent and the late Laura Ziskin.
VH1 Goes Inside (SD, 20 min).
Hero in Crisis (SD, 15 min).
Interwoven: The Women (SD, 16 min).
Super Reality: Visual Effects Breakdown (1080i/60, 33 min).
Danny Elfman Scores (SD, 10 min).
Blooper Reel (SD, 8 min).
Inside 2.1 (SD, 14 min).
With Great Effort, Comes Great Recognition (SD, 8 min).
Music Video (SD).
Willem Dafoe/"Doc Ock" On-Set Gag (SD, 2 min).
Alfred Molina/"Doc Ock" Green-Screen Gag (SD, 1 min).
Villains of Spider-Man (SD, 14 min).
Audio Commentaries: First track has director Sam Raimi having an amusing chat with actors Tobey Maguire, James Franco, Kirsten Dunst, Topher Grace, Bryce Dallas Howard and Thomas Haden Church. The second track comes with producers Alvin Sargent, Grant Curtis and the late Laura Ziskin talking to visual effects supervisor Scott Stokdyk and editor Bob Murawski.
Grains of Sand - Building Sandman (1080i/60, 14 min).
Re-Imagining the Goblin (1080i/60, 11 min).
Covered in Black - Creating Venom (1080i/60, 16 min).
Hanging On ... Gwen Stacy & The Collapsing Floor (1080i/60, 10 min).
Fighting, Flying & Driving - The Stunts (1080i/60, 19 min).
Tangled Web: The Love Triangles (1080i/60, 9 min).
Wall of Water (1080i/60, 7 min).
Inside the Editing Room (1080i/60, 4 min).
The Science of Sound - Optimized Audio (1080i/60, 16 min).
Bloopers (SD, 7 min).
Music Video (SD).
Spider-Man 3: Editor's Cut (HD, English DTS-HD Master Audio 5.1, 138 min).
The Stan Lee Legacy: From Comic Book to Homecoming (HD, 12 min).
Webisodes Spider-Man (SD, 20 min).
Making the Amazing (SD, 128 min).
Ock-Umentary: Eight Arms to Hold You (SD, 22 min).
Enter the Web (SD, 56 min).
Webisodes Spider-Man 2 (SD, 9 min).
On the Set: Spider-Man 3 (SD, 29 min).
A Conversation with Tobey Maguire (SD, 3 min).
On Location Cleveland - The Chase on Euclid Avenue (SD, 7 min).
On Location New York - From Rooftops to Backstreets (SD, 13 min).
Webisodes Spider-Man 3 (SD, 9 min).
Easter Eggs (SD, 5 min).
At last, the entire Sam Raimi Spider-Man trilogy swings to Ultra HD as a convenient seven-disc Limited Edition digibook. The first two movies have not lost their charm with the sequel still remaining one of the best superhero movies every made, but sadly, the trilogy ends on a sour note though the most memorable moment features an emo Peter Parker showing off his dance moves. The overall UHD set certainly delivers on the good, boasting a great-looking 4K presentation of all three films and reference-quality Dolby Atmos soundtrack of the two sequels. The only disappointment is a lack of new extras, porting over the same set of supplements as the previous Blu-rays. However, the overall package makes a nice upgrade for fans waiting for the definitive Spidey set, one 4K HDR enthusiasts will love displaying in their collection.
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