TechnoFILE is copyright and a registered trademark © ® of
Pandemonium Productions.
All rights reserved.
E-mail us Here!

Spider-Man the Deluxe and Supebit Editions

If you take a look at the late ‘80s and early ‘90s versions of Spider-Man, The Punisher, and few other really, really bad attempts at bringing Marvel comics to the screen, you’ll understand why they waited several years until the technology made it more plausible to try Spider-Man.

We all know Spider-Man: a high school nerd named Peter Parker (Tobey Maguire) is bitten by a radioactive spider and, rather than dying or becoming violently ill (the latter of which, in fairness, does happen briefly in the film), he’s given super powers. Suddenly, Peter has super strength, the ability to climb walls and shoot webs, and a precognitive “Spider-sense.”

Rather than just sit idly by as criminals run the streets, Parker dons the red-and-blue tights and becomes the amazing Spider-Man.

There’s nary a hero around who has more enemies than our favorite web-slinger, and this first installment features one of the silliest of the early Spider-Man villains, The Green Goblin (Willem Dafoe). In the comic book, he’s a schizophrenic maniac who dons a rubber goblin costume and throws exploding pumpkins. In the movie, he’s a technological genius who creates an armoured suit and a flying board, and throws pumpkin-shaped explosives.

Spidey has his work cut out for him as he tries to juggle his job, his life, and his secret life, all while trying to woo Mary-Jane Watson (Kirsten Dunst).

Superhero movies seem to fall into two categories: ones that are done really well and ones that are done really badly. Spider-Man falls into the former category. Director Sam Raimi (of Evil Dead and Army of Darkness fame) gives the story a modern twist while hanging on to the important elements. Spidey remains the reluctant hero that the everyman can relate to, but everything is updated for the 21st century. At first, Tobey Maguire seemed an odd choice for the Parker/Spidey role, but he gets it bang on (and besides, Michael Keaton seemed an odd choice for Batman, too, and he did fine).

Not only do we feel for Parker and want him to succeed, but we also believe he’s a normal guy with some extraordinary powers. Willem Dafoe, well…who would possibly make a better Green Goblin? J.K. Simmons also deserves kudos for his work as J. Jonah Jameson, Parker’s tremendously pleasant boss at the Daily Bugle. In fact, the only cast member that doesn’t quite work is Dunst, who comes across as far too ditzy to portray M.J.

Spider-Man is a great movie in almost every respect. The story, characters, acting, directing, production design, costume design, and cinematography are superb. For the most part, the visual effects are as well, though in some scenes the CGI Spidey just isn’t all that convincing.

If you’re looking for the best kind of Hollywood blockbuster, look no further. Spider-Man is an action-packed, story and character-driven emotional film that everyone can get something out of. Arguably the defining superhero movie thus far.

Well, if you remember the first Superman movie from the late 1970's, with Christopher Reeve in the title role, you'll find a lot of similarities between it and this Spider-Man. The storylines are very similar, in fact, and perhaps that's one of the reasons Spider-Man works so well: Superman worked so well, too.

Originally released in a two-disc special edition available in widescreen or Pan&Scan, we now get two more versions of Spidey, coincidentally timed right before the theatrical release of the second film. Aside from the Superbit version, which we've been waiting for with baited breath, we also get this (kind of) brand new deluxe edition. Basically, it features the original two-disc edition in its exactness, plus the lamest bonus disc of extras we’ve yet seen (and there have been some pretty lame ones).

Disc one features the film in 1.85:1 anamorphic widescreen and Dolby Digital 5.1. Overall, the transfer is good, but it should have been better for such a huge movie. The picture looks a bit muddy and grainy in places, but overall color and detail is very good. Imperfections are subtle, and are much more noticeable when you compare it with the Superbit version reviewed below.

The audio track features some good separation and use of surrounds, but quite a bit more would have been possible. During the action scenes, you can hear the rear speakers handling the occasional sound effect, which is nice, but you can’t help but think to yourself “that’s it?”

Extras on disc one begin with a series of “Web-i-sodes,” which take you behind-the-scenes of the film as you watch it. Each runs between 2-4 minutes, and doesn’t have enough time to really go into any detail. Next up are two audio commentaries, the first by Sam Raimi, Kirsten Dunst, and co-producers Grant Curtis and Laura Ziskin. Raimi has a great sense of humor, and keeps things running smoothly, but Curtis and Dunst don’t really have much reason to be there.

The second commentary with visual effects designer John Dykstra and his crew, has a lot more information to offer, but doesn’t have the wit of Raimi to keep it as entertaining. Both tracks are worth a listen for a while, but get tiresome.

Disc one also features a pop-up fact track, two music videos, trailers, and DVD-Rom content including the ability to record your very own audio commentary.

Disc two features more looks-better-than-they-are extras than we’ve seen in some time. The HBO First Look special is a typical 25-minute commercial that features cast & crew interviews crossed with some behind-the-scenes footage. “Spider-Man: The Mythology of the 21st Century” is probably the most interesting, chronicling the history of the character and comic. It features interviews with many of the people involved in Spider-Man’s 40-year history, including Stan Lee, Erik Larsen and Todd McFarlane.

If you thought it couldn’t get more superfluous than the HBO Specials, E! Entertainment offers “Spider-Mania,” a 35-minute shameless display of promotion. Two promos are offered, one on Sam Raimi and the other on composer Danny Elfman. While it’s nice to get a closer look on two of Hollywood’s bigwigs, there isn’t really a whole lot offered here. Finally, disc two also features some still galleries, screen tests, and a gag reel.

The bonus disc in the deluxe edition features just over half an hour of additional featurettes, including “Costume Design,” “Designing the World of Spider-Man,” “The Spider Wrangler,” “Wrestling Match,” “World Unity Festival,” “OsCorp Lab,” and “Goblin’s Arsenal.” All of them are well produced and reveal plenty of information about what went into making the film, but we all know that they could have easily fit them on disc two and included them from the start. Seeing as how the only other real extra is a sneak peek at Spider-Man 2 that features little more than the trailer we can see online for free, this whole package seems like one big ripoff.

Which brings us to the Superbit version. We love Columbia Tristar's Superbit titles; they usually (not always, alas) offer a spectacular anamorphic widescreen picture and top notch audio that gives you the choice of Dolby Digital or dts 5.1.

And this Superbit version is no different. The colors are deep and rich and the picture is sharp and clean. We watched the feature on this disc, then went back to the original Spider-Man DVD release (as witnessed by the deluxe version reviewed above) and discovered that the original (which is no slouch in its own right) looks a little washed out compared with the Superbit version. There's an apparent depth to the picture that brings an extra sense of realism to the movie that makes such things as the special effects look even better than before.

We also really liked the dts track, which is cleaner and richer than the regular track. The channel separation is also first rate and Tobey Maguire's hollers and grunts as he's propelling himself above the streets of New York really come through loud and clear.

Interestingly, this version - unlike most Superbit titles - also includes a bonus: a comnentary track featuring Tobey Maguire. It's okay, but we'd have preferred the Sam Raimi commentary. But considering that most Superbit titles have no extras at all, this is an unexpected bonus.

Still, it's the movie that counts, and this Superbit version of Spider-Man is, in our opinion, the ultimate version of the film on DVD.

If you already own a version of Spider-Man, stick with it. If not, you can pick up the Superbit version for quality, or the original two-disc edition for quantity. There’s really no reason to shell out the dough for this version.

Spider-Man, from Columbia Tristar Home Entertainment
121 minutes, anamorphic widescreen (1.85:1) 16x9 enhanced, Dolby Digital 5.1 (Superbit version also offers dts)
Starring Tobey Maguire, Willem Dafoe, Kirsten Dunst, James Franco, Cliff Robertson, Rosemary Harris
Produced by Laura Ziskin, Ian Bryce
Screenplay by David Keopp
Directed by Sam Raimi


Tell us at TechnoFile what YOU think













Support TechnoFile
via Paypal

TechnoFILE's E-letter
We're pleased to offer
our FREE private,
private E-mail service.
It's the "no brainer"
way to keep informed.

Our Privacy Policy