Release Date(s)2002/2004/2007 (June 13, 2017)
Studio(s)Columbia Pictures/Sony Pictures Home Entertainment
- Film/Program Grade: See Below
- Video Grade: See Below
- Audio Grade: See Below
- Extras Grade: B+
- Overall Grade: B+
It’s not difficult to think back to a time when there were only a couple of superhero films released per year. That number has quadrupled recently but, back in 2002, Spider-Man was a big event as he had never really had a blockbuster movie before. Folks tend to forget, but it also changed the course of Sam Raimi’s career. He had dabbled in non-horror related content before, but Spider-Man was his welcome to the big leagues. Sadly, it wasn’t a ride that lasted all that long. After the superior Spider-Man 2 in 2004 and the disastrous Spider-Man 3 in 2007, Sam Raimi, disheartened by the experience of dealing with too many creative minds meddling with his work, left the series behind, despite having ideas about how to proceed with a fourth entry.
Looking back at the three movies today, it’s a bit like re-watching the original Batman movies by Tim Burton and Joel Schumacher. While it’s easy to poke holes in them and find flaws, they were enjoyable pieces of popcorn entertainment in their day, to more or lesser degrees. While Spider-Man wasn’t quite fully realized as a character in the way that hardcore comic book fans would’ve wanted, one couldn’t deny that the filmmakers nailed certain aspects. This included his relationship problems with Mary Jane, Norman Osborne, and even Aunt May. The films got down and dirty with Peter Parker as a human being, skillfully portraying how being Spider-Man was always going to be a burden for him and everyone he cared about. Since then, we’ve had two more incarnations of the character from the same studio, but the original three will always be the cornerstones that hold up everything else that comes after them.
To celebrate the return of Spider-Man to the big screen with Spider-Man: Homecoming, Sony has decided to release these three movies yet again in new Limited Edition Blu-book packaging. However, this isn’t a case of simply taking their previous Blu-ray releases and slipping them into a new package. This is also an attempt to gather together all of the previous bonus material from the films’ various home video releases. It doesn’t fully succeed, which I’ll get into later in the review, but it’s an admirable attempt. Besides including a couple of new featurettes, this release also sports a brand new cut of the third film entitled Spider-Man 3: Editor’s Cut. Bob Murawski has taken it upon himself to go back into the film and attempt to improve it. While no cut of the film is ever going to be perfect, as it was compromised long before it was even shot, this version of Spider-Man 3 is surprisingly more acceptable than its theatrical counterpart. It’s not vastly different, but some of the awkwardness, including the “emo” aspects, have been toned down or removed entirely. It also features alternate takes of certain scenes, as well as additional footage of Peter in the black Spider-Man outfit, much of which was only ever seen in the film’s trailers. It’s only a couple of minutes shorter than the theatrical cut, but it’s a slightly better film on the whole.
As for the video quality, there’s not much to say. All three films look spectacular, as they appear to be sourced from the previous 4K mastering jobs. Detail and texturing are solid, colors are bright and varied, blacks are deep with amazing shadow detail, and contrast and brightness levels are perfect. There’s also virtually no damage leftover and, despite the number of extras included on each disc, I didn’t notice any major compression issues at all. All three films, including the Spider-Man 3: Editor’s Cut, feature mostly the same audio options: English 5.1 DTS-HD, English 2.0 Dolby Digital (except for the Editor’s Cut oddly enough); and French, German, Japanese, and Spanish 5.1 Dolby Digital. Again, like the video portion, there’s nothing to really complain about. These are dynamite audio presentations with crystal clear dialogue, strong fidelity, frequent speaker to speaker activity, powerful score and sound effects, numerous ambient moments, and plenty of robust LFE. In short, each film contains beautiful A/V presentations, which is unsurprising coming from Sony, who are one of the best at vaulting their films. For subtitle options, all of the films include them in English, English SDH, Czech, Danish, Dutch, Finnish, French, German, Italian, Japanese, Norwegian, Portuguese (Brazilian), Portuguese, Romanian, Spanish (Castilian), Spanish (Latin American), Swedish, and Turkish.
SPIDER-MAN (FILM/VIDEO/AUDIO): B+/A/A+
SPIDER-MAN 2 (FILM/VIDEO/AUDIO): A/A/A+
SPIDER-MAN 2.1 (FILM/VIDEO/AUDIO): A-/A/A+
SPIDER-MAN 3 (FILM/VIDEO/AUDIO): C+/A/A+
SPIDER-MAN 3: EDITOR'S CUT (FILM/VIDEO/AUDIO): B-/A/A+
There’s also a mountain of extras to delve into, so bear with me. On Disc One (Spider-Man), there’s an audio commentary with director Sam Raimi, producer Laura Ziskin, actress Kirsten Dunst, and co-producer Grant Curtis; a second audio commentary with Tobey Maguire and J.K. Simmons; and a third audio commentary with special effects designer John Dykstra and the visual effects crew. There’s also the Spider-Man: The Mythology of the 21st Century featurette; Behind the Ultimate Spin – the HBO making of TV special; Spider-Mania: An E! Entertainment Special; gags and outtakes; Director and Composer Profiles for Sam Raimi and Danny Elfman; Behind the Scenes of Spider-Man in 7 parts with a Play All option (Costume Design, Designing the World of Spider-Man, Spider Wrangler, Wrestling Match, World Unity Festival, Oscorp Lab, Goblin’s Arsenal); Screen Tests with a Play All option (Tobey Maguire, J.K. Simmons, CGI Spider-Man, Makeup and Costumers); two music videos (“Hero” by Chad Kroeger featuring Josey Scott and “What We’re All About” by Sum 41); Easter Eggs with a Play All option (CGI Gags and Outtakes, A New Twist on the Webs, The Romitas, Full Frame Electro Rotation, Full Frame Scorpion Rotation, Full Frame Venom Rotation); 2 theatrical trailers; and a trailer for Spider-Man: Homecoming (which also opens the disc). Take note that each disc in this set has this trailer on it. Overkill much there, Sony?
On Disc Two (Spider-Man 2), there’s the additional version of the film Spider-Man 2.1 included; an audio commentary with Sam Raimi, Tobey Maguire, producer Avi Arad, and co-producer Grant Curtis (theatrical version); a second audio commentary with the special effects crew, including Steve Johnson, Eric Hayden, John Dykstra, Anthony LaMolinara, Scott Stokdyk, and Lydia Botteyoni (theatrical version); a third audio commentary with Laura Ziskin and Alvin Sargent (2.1 version); the VH1 Goes Inside Spider-Man TV special; a Hero in Crisis featurette; an Interwoven: The Women of Spider-Man featurette; a Visual Effects Breakdown in 5 parts with a Play All option; Danny Elfman Scores Spider-Man 2 from 2 angles; a blooper reel; the Inside 2.1 featurette; the With Great Effort, Comes Great Recognition featurette; a music video for “Ordinary” by Train; a Willem Dafoe/“Doc Ock” on-set gag; an Alfred Molina/“Doc Ock” green-screen gag; the teaser trailer; the theatrical trailer; the 2.1 theatrical trailer; and a Villains of Spider-Man featurette.
On Disc Three (Spider-Man 3), there’s an audio commentary with Sam Raimi, Tobey Maguire, Kirsten Dunst, James Franco, Topher Grace, Bryce Dallas Howard, and Thomas Haden Church; another audio commentary with producers Avi Arad, Grant Curtis, Laura Ziskin, editor Bob Murawski, and visual effects supervisor Scott Stokdyk; a set of featurettes with a Play All option (Grains of Sand – Building Sandman, Re-Imagining The Goblin, Covered in Black – Creating Venom, Hanging On... Gwen Stacy and the Collapsing Floor, Fighting, Flying and Driving – The Stunts, Tangled Web: The Love Triangles of Spider-Man 3, Wall of Water, Inside the Editing Room, The Science of Sound – With Optimized Audio); bloopers; a music video for “Signal Fire” by Snow Patrol; the teaser trailer; and 3 theatrical trailers.
Disc Four is where you’ll find Spider-Man 3: Editor’s Cut, along with a bevy of ported over extras under Spider-Man 1-3 Special Features. Starting things off is the new featurette The Stan Lee Legacy: From Comic Book to Homecoming. Under Spider-Man, you’ll find Webisodes of Spider-Man with a Play All option (Spider Wrangler, Bone Saw McGraw, The Model Maker, Production Designer, Set Design, Set Builder). Under Spider-Man 2, you’ll find the 12-part Making the Amazing documentary from Charles de Lauzirika with a Play All option (Greater Power, Greater Responsibility, Story and Character, Visual Design, Costume Design, Direction, The Spydercam, Stunts, Practical Effects, Editing, Visual Effects, Sound and Music, Lessons Learned); Ock-umentary: Eight Arms to Hold You; Enter the Web with 4 angle options; and Webisodes of Spider-Man 2 with a Play All option (Costume Design, Comic-Con Q&A, J. Jonah Jameson, Peter Parker and Mary Jane Watson). Under Spider-Man 3, you’ll find On the Set: Spider-Man 3; A Conversation with Tobey Maguire; On Location Cleveland – The Chase on Euclid Avenue; On Location New York – From Rooftops to Backstreets; Webisodes of Spider-Man 3 with a Play All option (Sam Raimi Intro, E.J. Krisor, Illustrator: On Sandman and Venom, Elizabeth Banks, “Betty Brant”, Laura Ziskin, The Love Triangle, Eddie/Venom, Grant Curtis, Armored Car Stunt, Spydercam, Bob Mano, Goblin Weapons, Scott Rogers, Creating a Sandstorm, Trailer Tours, Tobey Maguire on Black-Suited Spider-Man, Aaron Lam, Assistant to Sam Raimi, The Stunts of Spider-Man 3, James Acheson, Costume Designer – On Harry Osborn and Sandman, Topher Grace, “Eddie Brock”, Eric Heffrom and Michael Moore, Assistant Directors, The Light Stage, Rachel Warkins, Greystone, John Frazier, Water Dump, Rosemary Harris, “Aunt May”, Bryce Dallas Howard, “Gwen Stacy”, Thomas Hayden Church, “Flint Marko”, Armored Car Crash, Doug Harlocker, A New Generation of Glider, Ted Raimi, “Hoffman”, Shownee Smith, Head Specialty Costumer, Rigging Crew, Grant Curtis, Inside the Goblin Lair, George Stevens, “Webmaster”, Bruce Campbell, “The Maître D’”, Chasing Flint Marko, Cleveland Rocks); and two Easter Eggs: Grant Curtis ADR Session and Scoring the Blooper Reel. Also included in the package is 40 pages of behind-the-scenes photos and information about each film.
With such a bounty of material, how could anything be missing? Well, missing from the original Special Edition DVD release of Spider-Man is all of the DVD-ROM material (a split-screen comparison option, a record your own commentary option, two playable levels of the Activision Spider-Man video game, three exclusive Marvel dot comics, and a Spider-Man Visualizer), a Spider-Sense viewing mode which gave you the option of watching the film with the webisodes, various photo galleries, 11 TV spots, the Spider-Man Comic Book Archives, a comic book artist pin-up gallery, and Activision game hints and tips. Missing from the Deluxe Edition DVD is a Behind the Scenes of Spider-Man 2 featurette and a Spider-Man 2 video game trailer and demo. Missing from the Limited Edition DVD is the Creating Spider-Man interview with Stan Lee and Kevin Smith, the Here Come the Heroes featurette, and the Weaving the Web subtitle trivia track. Missing from the second Blu-ray release is the Spider Sense Trivia Challenge, the What is the Cutting Room Floor? tutorial, and The Spider-Man Cutting Room. Missing from a Region 2 Collector’s Edition DVD release is an Easter egg, which is a brief interview with Todd McFarlane. Missing from the original Special Edition DVD release of Spider-Man 2 is the Spidey Sense trivia track, the Alex Ross paintings gallery, a couple of previews for the Spider-Man 2 video game, and an Easter egg featuring Sam Raimi introducing the film to the Japanese press. Missing from the Spider-Man 2.1 DVD release is the Spidey Sense 2.1 trivia track, the Spider-Man 3 sneak peek, and a trailer for Spider-Man 3: The Game. Missing from the 2012 Blu-ray release is the trailer for The Amazing Spider-Man. Missing from the original Spider-Man 3 DVD and Blu-ray releases are a set of five still galleries, two video game previews, and 8 International TV spots.
Now, obviously not ALL of this material was worth porting over, including the many video game trailers and demos, but the marketing materials could and should have been included to make it a more complete package. Also not included with any of this material are additional TV spots for the second and third films, as well as the original World Trade Center teaser trailer for the first film, which has never been included on any release for obvious reasons. However, I would argue that enough time has passed since 2001 that including it shouldn’t be a problem like it was at the time. I also wouldn’t have minded having some additional retrospective material, as well as a little more information regarding Sam Raimi’s aborted Spider-Man 4. If you own any of the previously mentioned releases and you’re a die-hard fan of the series, you may want to consider hanging onto them for those missing bits. When all is said done though, the Spider-Man: Limited Edition Collection is still a nice package, and is probably the most authoritative release of the film three films to date. With terrific A/V quality and a boatload of extras, you can’t really go wrong.
- Tim Salmons