In SPIDER-MAN 2, the latest installment in the blockbuster Spider-Man series, based on the classicMarvel Comics hero, Tobey Maguire returns as the mild-mannered Peter Parker, who is juggling the delicate balance of his dual life as college student and a superhuman crime fighter. Peter's life becomes even more complicated when he confronts a new nemesis, the brilliant Otto Octavius (Alfred Molina) who has been reincarnated as the maniacal and multi-tentacled "Doc Ock." When Doc Ock kidnaps MJ (Kirsten Dunst), Spider-Man must swing back into action as the adventure reaches new heights of unprecedented excitement.
More than a few critics hailed Spider-Man 2 as "the best superhero movie ever," and there's no compelling reason to argue--thanks to a bigger budget, better special effects, and a dynamic, character-driven plot, it's a notch above Spider-Man in terms of emotional depth and rich comic-book sensibility. Ordinary People Oscar-winner Alvin Sargent received screenplay credit, and celebrated author and comic-book expert Michael Chabon worked on the story, but it's director Sam Raimi's affinity for the material that brings Spidey 2 to vivid life. When a fusion experiment goes terribly wrong, a brilliant physicist (Alfred Molina) is turned into Spidey's newest nemesis, the deranged, mechanically tentacled "Doctor Octopus," obsessed with completing his experiment and killing Spider-Man (Tobey Maguire) in the process. Even more compelling is Peter Parker's urgent dilemma: continue his burdensome, lonely life of crime-fighting as Spider-Man, or pursue love and happiness with Mary Jane Watson (Kirsten Dunst)? Molina's outstanding as a tragic villain controlled by his own invention, and the action sequences are nothing less than breathtaking, but the real success of Spider-Man 2 is its sense of priorities. With all of Hollywood's biggest and best toys at his disposal, Raimi and his writers stay true to the Marvel mythology, honoring Spider-Man creators Stan Lee and Steve Ditko, and setting the bar impressively high for the challenge of Spider-Man 3. --Jeff Shannon
The first commentary track is by director Sam Raimi and a self-deprecating Tobey Maguire speaking in tandem, and producer (and Marvel CEO) Avi Arad and coproducer Grant Curtis speaking in tandem. They discuss a number of topics, including Raimi's memory of his excitement over Richard Donner's Superman and how the character of Black Cat had to be dropped from the film. The second commentary is by six members of the Oscar-nominated effects team, and one of their primary focuses is how Doc Ock's arms were achieved by a combination of puppetry and CGI.
The centerpiece of the second disc is a massive two-hour documentary that can be viewed all at once or in 12 separate pieces. It covers the development of the story, the visual effects, costumes, stunts, and sound and music. Three shorter featurettes cover Peter Parker's struggle between his personal and hero lives, Doc Ock, and the women in Spider-Man's life, and what's interesting is how they discuss those topics not just in relation to the movies but to the comic books as well. (For example, Betty Brant and Gwen Stacy had a much greater impact in the comics.) There's a scene in which you can toggle among three different camera angles, and a gallery of 17 paintings Alex Ross created for the opening sequence. The sound and picture are spectacular, though only the Superbit edition has DTS. --David Horiuchi
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Stills from Spider-Man 2 (click for larger image)
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