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January 3, 2013
The Amazing Spider-man Blu-Ray Review
Cinema Release Blu-Ray Release Distributor Director
4/7/201231/10/2012SonyMarc Webb
Video Codec Sound Format OFLC Rating Star(s)
MVc/AVC MPEG-4DTS-HD Master Audio 5.1MA15+Andrew Garfield

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The Amazing Spider-man is a franchise reboot.

Let me be brutally honest up front here. When I heard in 2010 that Sony cancelled Spider-man 4 with Sam Raimi, Tobey Maguire and Kirsten Dunst I was pissed, and my annoyance only multiplied when the company announced they were set to reboot the franchise. I mean seriously, the franchise had 3 very successful films over six years, with the last film only a couple of years old. There was a lot of anger, and Sony had to work hard to win back fans of the original trilogy, but over time they did. With a budget reportedly around $US230 million there was a lot riding on this film, but when the film hit cinemas in mid-2012, The Amazing Spider-Man became a monster hit.

As a reboot of a franchise this is, yet again, an origin story about how Spider-Man came to be but it doesn't follow the same storyline as the original Sam Raimi directed film. Sure Peter Parker (Andrew Garfield) gets bitten by a spider, and gets some enhanced abilities, but this is a story about Peter trying to uncover the mystery behind his parents disappearance when he was a young boy. Now a teenager and living with his Uncle Ben (Martin Sheen) and Aunt May (Sally Field) his investigation leads to Dr. Curt Connors, his father's former partner, but soon turns deadly when The Lizard starts tearing up the town.

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Andrew Garfield and Rhys Ifans in The Amazing Spider-Man.
So is this a better film then the original trilogy, or indeed the original film? We're not quite convinced of that as yet. Certainly the villain - The Lizard - is fantastic, and we love Emma Stone as Gwen Stacy (hell, we pretty much like anything she does!) while the slick editing ensures the film never gets bogged down. Furthermore, Dr. Curt Connors is superbly portrayed by Rhys Ifans however it's Andrew Garfield who brings Peter Parker/Spider-man to life that is the key to this film’s success. He has a grounded reality that resonates with audiences and he doesn't come across as "whiney" as Tobey did in the previous films.

One performance that I didn't quite click with was that of Sally Field as Aunt May Parker. Don't get me wrong, I have the utmost respect for Sally Field as an actress - her performance as Forrest Gump's mother in that film remains one of my all-time favourites - however she doesn't capture the same heart as Rosemary Harris did in the previous trilogy of films. It's also interesting to note that in this latest film other characters such as Mary-Jane Watson and J. Jonah Jameson (the head of the newspaper) don't make an appearance in The Amazing Spider-man, but we would expect they will turn up in subsequent films.

With a pretty lean runtime of only 2 hours 16 minutes this is a pretty fast moving film with little downtime or moments that seem to bog down. In a film such as this the action set pieces make the film and there are some great moments here - Spider-man's battle with The Lizard in the sewers or school, rescuing people on the bridge, and the final confrontation are all superb, and will have you on the edge of your seats.

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The Lizard is a superb, and horrifying, enemy.
After watching this film a couple of times now I can admit that I enjoyed it considerably. The Amazing Spider-man is not quite perfect, but is certainly equal to, if not exceeding, the Sam Raimi original.

Watching The Amazing Spider-man in either 2D or 3D forms (there are separate discs for each) is a jaw-dropping experience. When a studio plonks down $US230 million into a film you expect it to look stunning - and that's an understatement here with some gorgeous set design, jaw-dropping visual effects, and entertaining cinematography evident throughout this film. The transfer to Blu-Ray is presented in the film’s original 2.40:1 aspect ratio using the AVC MPEG-4 video codec looks fantastic with wonderful levels of fine detail, accurate colour reproduction - particularly on skin tones - and no black crush evident in the many darker scenes.

As a 3D film (and of course in the MVC format) The Amazing Spider-man is designed from start to finish with 3D in mind, although unlike some other films that open up the film's image to fill a 3DTV this transfer remains at 2.40:1 in 3D. Be it the wonderful fights between Spider-man and The Lizard with each being thrown around the screen, Spider-man swinging (often in first person perspective) between the towering buildings, or even the simple interior locations this film gets it all right. Fortunately there isn't much of the "poke your eye out" styled visuals which ruin some 3D films, this is a more subtle and impressive result.

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Martin Sheen and Sally Fields as Uncle Ben and Aunt May in The Amazing Spider- man.
The Amazing Spider-Man is presented on Blu-Ray with a DTS-HD Master Audio 5.1 (16-bit/48Khz) track that really brings the film to live with active surround sound channels and plenty of LFE to get your sub-woofer pounding when required. Dialogue remains crystal clear at all times, while effects have plenty of impact.

The highlight of the audio on this release though has to be the wonderful score by James Horner which underpins all the action throughout the film and while not as memorable as some film scores is extremely enjoyable - and sounds fantastic with the lossless audio track.

There are several other audio tracks on this disc including an English Descriptive Service encoded in 2 Channel Dolby Digital at 192kbps. Other languages include Hindi, Kazakh, Russian and Ukrainian Dolby Digital 5.1 tracks at 384kbps. These audio tracks certainly lack the clarity and punch from the lossless English DTS-HD track, but will get the job done if you need another language - of course I can't attest to the accuracy of the translation.

Subtitles are provided in English, English SDH, Arabic, Croatian, Estonian, Hebrew, Hindi, Icelandic, Latvian, Lithuanian, Portuguese, Russian, Serbian, and Slovene. We sampled the English subtitles at various points through the film and they were accurate to the on-screen dialogue. We also quite enjoyed the dull gray colour as they don't become obtrusive to the entire picture.

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Just hanging around on the ceiling!
The Amazing Spider-Man is on Blu-Ray in a 2-disc set with the first disc holding the feature film, and the second disc containing the bulk of the extras, which are pretty superb.

Disc One

Audio Commentary with director Marc Webb, Producer Avi Arid and Matt Tolmach: This is a mildly interesting commentary although the participants occasionally repeat each other and simply detail what's happening in the scene - perhaps with a little more background to the characters' thoughts. There are though some very interesting production details which, while not making this essential listening, is worth it if you enjoy commentaries.

3D 101 with Director Marc Webb (3D): This is a pretty cool featurette in which director Marc Webb discusses filming in 3D. It's not quite as long as we would have liked but is definitely worth a watch (you will need a 3DTV to view this featurette).

Iconic Poses and Digital Environments - 3D Image Progression Reel (3D): As with the 2D Progression Reel on the Extras disc, this one is presented in 3D and is also quite interesting if only because we rarely see this material presented in 3D. Again, you will need a 3DTV to view this extra.

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Spider-man developing his web shooters.
Disc Two

Rite of Passage: The Amazing Spider-Man Reborn (109:49/HD): Now this is how you create a documentary about the creation of the film. Split up into seven segments this featurette covers everything from abandoning works on another Sam Raimi film, hiring Marc Web, selecting the villain, casting, creating the new suit for Spider-Man and lizard's look, on-set production in Los Angeles, Andrew Garfield performing his own stunts, production at Sony Studios including a look at the bridge sequence, a look at filming in New York, and finally the Post- Production which looks at creating the wonderful visual effects including painting out Curt Connor's arm, editing and scoring the film for release.

Deleted Scenes (16:50/HD): Here we have eleven deleted (or extended) scenes, many of which are generally very good quality and could have been re-inserted into the film for an extended version. Scenes include "A Different Fate", "Connors' Condolences", "Tracking Connors", "Hacking Connors", "Going Away", "Top To Bottom - Part 1", "Top To Bottom - Part 2", "Bad Lizard", "Help Me", "All The Power You Feel" and "Lost Something".

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Emma Stone is brilliant as Gwen Stacy.
Pre-Visualization (39:08/HD): Running for almost 40 minutes and set to music this is a series of sixteen pre-vis sequences from the filmmakers showing the intent of the scene prior to filming. Some of these are in storyboard form, some are in rough CG animations, but they are all great quality. It would have been nice to have some small intro notes, or audio commentary over these sequences though.

The Oscorp Archives Production Art Gallery (HD): Here we have a stills gallery with images of Spider-Man, The Lizard and the Environments in the film. In all there's and extensive 329 images here, but many do show the progression of character design which would be of interest to artists in particular.

Image Progression Reels (11:51/HD): This fantastic, albeit a little too short, segment looks at the visual effects in four key sequences including "High School Fight Sequence", "Iconic Poses and Digital Environments", "The Lizard Emerges" and "Sewer Battle". Each of these segments has a commentary detailing the work that was required for the visual effects.

Stunt Rehearsals (11:52/HD): As the title suggests this is stunt rehearsal footage for segments including "Subway", "Testing Powers", "Alley Fight", "Escape Under Bridge", "Sewer Fight", "Spidey Vs Lizard", "Lizard Attacks SWAT", and "SWAT Attacks Spidey". The quality isn't fantastic but the featurette gives an idea into the amount of pre-production work that goes into any action sequence.

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Visual effects for The Lizard are superb.
Developing The Amazing Spider-Man Video Game (3:26/HD): Too short and light to really be anything more then an advertisement for the game (which is fairly entertaining we should mention.

So I'll admit it, I didn't want to like this film, I loved the Sam Raimi films (well, not so much the third one), but after viewing The Amazing Spider-Man a couple of times I tip my hat to Sony, director Marc Webb, Andrew Garfield and Emma Stone (as well as everyone else involved). This is a fine film that even outshines the previous trilogy. On Blu-Ray the transfer (with 2D or 3D video), the a booming soundtrack and extensive extras makes this a release well worth picking up. Yes, I am now looking forward to The Amazing Spider-Man 2 in May 2014.

Review By: Dave Warner


Note: All images in this article are Copyright© Sony Universal. They are only indicative of the movie and not sourced from the vastly superior Blu-Ray disc format.