You won't regret getting trapped in the webbed wonder that is the "Spider-Man" DVD. Two discs of pure entertainment await you, and they'll satisfy even hardcore fans without scaring off the mildly curious.
Picture Sometimes a DVD transfer comes along that's so sharp and fresh it looks as if you could just step into it. This is one of those rarities.
Sound The great thing about this 5.1 mix is that it isn't excessively loud. What you do get are multi-layered effects moving between the speakers, a bold musical score, and an all-enveloping atmospheric feel that draws you right into the magic of the movie.
DISC ONE SPECIAL FEATURES
Audio Commentary One This is billed as the "Filmmaker and Cast" commentary, and features contributions from director Sam Raimi and co-producer Grant Curtis, actress Kirsten Dunst, and producer Laura Ziskin. It's not a terribly involving audio experience, but you will glean some facts about the making of the movie. Sam's cult roots shine through as he reveals that the budget had all but run out once it came to putting together a dream sequence for Tobey Maguire (as he lies in bed and transforms into Spider-Man). So they recycled existing title footage, and borrowed a shot of a spider on an eye from a low-budget Lucio Fulci horror flick.
Not mentioned in the commentary is the fact that it also turns up in the opening animated menu sequence of disc one. If you've ever seen a Fulci flick, you'd never think any of it would turn up in a big Hollywood film, but clearly even with the big bucks, Raimi still finds a way to save the pennies.
Audio Commentary Two Visual effects supervisors John Dykstra and Scott Stokdyk join animation director Anthony LaMolinara for a commentary that's quite a bit more interesting than the first track. As you'd expect, their focus is on the technical side of the movie, but their conversation is easily accessible, and they break down what they were trying to achieve with humour and clarity.
Spider Sense Switch on your Spider Sense, and every now and again during the movie you'll see a Spider-Man icon flash up. Click on one and you'll be taken out of the film for a short web-i-sode. Most concern the production and art design of the film, from drawing to model stage, and finally construction. There's also an eight-minute featurette on the real spiders in the movie.
Spider-wrangler Steven Hutcher chats away amiably on the problems of getting hold of lots of those lovely arachnids, while a particularly large and hairy specimen scuttles over him.
Factoid Track Prepare for an immense amount of information on the background of the comic and the movie for this fun sub-titled track that you can run during the film. There's some good humour in some of these captions, and an absolute education to be learnt on everything Spidey-shaped.
DVD-ROM This DVD-ROM section is very cool. You can record your very own commentary for the movie in a virtual studio. Comments like, "This bit rocks" or "That didn't happen in the comic", or even "Oh wait, this is what's going to happen..." can be recorded for the displeasure of your friends. After you've played with that, why not watch the movie, with the pages of the comic story mounted opposite for you to compare and contrast.
Additional Disc One Extra Features Also on disc one is a marketing gallery with trailers, TV spots, and two music videos.
DISC TWO SPECIAL FEATURES
Disc two splits into two distinct sections - the comic and the movie...
WEB OF SPIDER-MAN: THE COMIC
The Mythology of the 21st Century Whether you're a devotee to the comics or new to them, this 25-minute documentary will entertain and inform. Stan Lee is on hand to talk us through the evolution of Marvel Comics and, of course, Spider-Man. Artists and writers talk through their work on the comics, the classic issues, and their inspirations.
If you know someone with a giant TV or projection system, then watch this bit on their facilities, for there's a mass of comic artwork on show throughout this feature, and it looks incredible on a big screen.
Spider-Man Archives Enter the archives, and you can trace your way through the comics of Spider-Man. Pick a decade from the 60s to the 00s and you'll get a gallery of the covers of issues released that year. Click on a cover and you get a brief storyline, plus the details of the writer, pencils, inks, and editor for that particular comic. This section is a collector's dream.
Rogues Gallery Browse through 14 of Spider-Man's foes with 3D representations of these characters, plus basic facts on their weapons and powers.
Artists Gallery You'll find four galleries here that contain piles of images on background environments, Spider-Man himself, the Green Goblin, and artist styles.
The Loves of Peter Parker Four of Parker's squeezes for you to browse through here with images and facts.
Game Tips A gallery of tips for playing the Spider-Man game (purchased separately).
GOBLIN'S LAIR: THE MOVIE
HBO: Making of We're not the biggest fans of HBO 'Making of' featurettes, but this 25-minute effort is one of their better attempts. The interview quotes are dull enough for you to consider emulating the Green Goblin's trail of havoc, but there's plenty of behind-the-scenes footage.
E! Entertainment: Spider Mania This 40-minute special knocks the spots off the HBO effort. It too has a mass of behind-the-scenes footage, but the cutting is slower, so you can actually appreciate what you're seeing. There's footage of an amusing Q&A of the cast and crew, and the interview quotes are again better than the HBO programme, as they're not all to do with explaining the plot and the characters.
Sam Raimi Profile This six-minute look at Sam Raimi opens with footage of him trying to be a hard ass on set. Then follow some fawning comments on his work, before we get to some sanity in the shape of Bruce Campbell, who gives us the low-down on Raimi without the platitudes.
Danny Elfman Profile Composer Elfman gets his own seven-minute featurette on the recording of the music score.
Screen Tests Four screen tests are here for you to pick over, including a CGI test.
Gag/Outtake Reel At three minutes, there's a fair amount of material here, but the outtakes are sadly not that funny. Still worth a look though! You get the feeling that they were pushed for time on the shoot.
DVD-ROM Web links (ho ho), Spider-Man game demo, and the Spider-Man Visualiser.
Ratio: 1.85:1 (anamorphic)
Sound: Dolby Digital 5.1
Technical Features: Scene selection, animated menus, and multiple language subtitles.
This DVD was reviewed on a JVC XV-S57 DVD player.