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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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".
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.
Review By: Dave Warner