Spider-Man Ultra HD Blu-ray Review
Back when superhero movies were still a new thing...
Fifteen years ago Sam Raimi's Spider-Man was a milestone event that helped pave the way for the packed annual superhero blockbuster schedule we've got today.Sure, Bryan Singer's Fox-backed X-Men came first back in 2000 (and, indeed, Blade before that), but Sony's 2002 Spider-Man took three times as much at the Box Office, hitting the Top 5 highest grossing movies of all time (at the time) and really putting superhero blockbusters on the map. Introducing a whole new generation to the friendly neighbourhood webslinger, Raimi took his black comedy horror background and childhood passion for the character and helped develop the groundbreaking feature, taking a premise from James Cameron and re-fashioned into a final screenplay by David Koepp which stripped the story down to a single main villain with a focus on the father-son themes between both protagonist and antagonist.Catapulting then-27 year-old Tobey Maguire into stardom, Spider-Man pitted his nerdy schoolkid-turned-super-powered-crimefighter against Willem Dafoe's psychotic villain, whose tinkering with unstable drugs sees him don a (slightly cheap-looking) metal suit as The Green Goblin. Although the action scenes still needed some finessing, the film - and series - is probably best remembered (and rightly so) for Maguire's Peter Parker and the excellent chemistry with the love of his life, Kristen Dunst's Mary-Jane Watson, with that inverted kiss remaining one of the most iconic shots in movie history. It was a great start, with a fantastic, fresh introduction to the character, and great world-building that turned this into a franchise-in-the-making.
Picture QualitySpider-Man swings onto 4K Ultra HD Blu-ray presented in 3840 x 2160p with a widescreen 1.85:1 aspect ratio, using 10-bit video depth, a Wider Colour Gamut (WCG) and High Dynamic Range (HDR), encoded using the HEVC (H.265) codec. The UHD Blu-ray was reviewed on a Samsung UE55KS8000 Ultra HD TV and a Samsung UBD-K8500 Ultra HD Blu-ray player.
It's interesting, given the recent 4K upscale release of Spider-Man: Homecoming - which admittedly looked fantastic - that the fifteen year old original Spider-Man movie would not be beholden to the now near-mandatory 2K Digital Intermediate, and thus ends up coming to audiences with a native 4K video presentation.
Another impressive film-based native 4K release
Part of Sony's Remastered in 4K Blu-ray line from a few years back, the same remaster is on offer here, afforded the additional benefits of HDR and WCG. Detail is excellent, picking up on finer nuances and providing keen observation of skin textures, lines and wrinkles, the design of the spider suit, and gleaning (albeit cheap) look of the Green Goblin's metal suit. Whilst impressive on the 4K remastered Blu-ray, this Ultra HD Blu-ray presentation is the next level, providing rich and impressive full 4K video. Of course, the benefits of this period of non-digital filming come with what some might consider perceived disadvantages, namely a fine layer of grain pervading the piece which, for those who are prepared to accept it as a plus point, affords the film a suitably filmic look.
The colour scheme is rich and vibrant too, providing more refined tones which are evident throughout, but particularly noticeable on the aforementioned suits. The glorious cityscape is similarly rendered with dazzling tones and whilst there's no strikingly incongruous and overly vivid colours to betray the original look of the piece, it still benefits from subtle WCG implementation and the added range from HDR enhancement, which caps everything off with solid and deep blacks. Although perhaps little surprise to connoisseurs of the format, it's a pleasant surprise to find yet another impressive film-based 4K release.
Sound QualitySpider-Man also gets a distinct upgrade on the aural front, with a tremendous Dolby Atmos track founded upon an already very impressive Dolby TrueHD 7.1 track which, in its own right, is demo quality through and through.
An impressive and immersive aural offering
Dialogue comes across clearly and coherently throughout, delivered with precision across the front and centre channels, whilst effects get keen dissemination via the surrounds. Discrete observation is striking, picking up on explosions, gunshots, raging fires and collapsing buildings. More subtle flourishes, like the shooting of the webs, or the swish through the air as Spider-Man swings across the cityscape, also ring true. Danny Elfman's memorable and suitably thematic accompanying score provides a fabulous backdrop to the proceedings, further fuelling the surrounds and rounding out an impressive and immersive aural offering.
ExtrasDisappointingly, there's nothing ported over to the Ultra HD Blu-ray disc itself beyond a few photos, with the accompanying Blu-ray disc of the movie left to do the heavy lifting in this department. Thankfully it's still a pretty hefty extras package, headlined with not one but three Audio Commentaries, the first with Sam Raimi, Kristen Dunst and some of the other crew members, the second with Tobey Maguire and J.K. Simmons, and the third with the VFX crew.
There's a pretty hefty extras package on the accompanying Blu-ray
There are also a number of welcome - although likely already well-known - Documentary and Featurette-based offerings, including Spider-Man: The Mythology of the 21st Century, HBO Making of Spider-Man, "Spider-Mania": An E! Entertainment Special, and Behind the Scenes of Spider-Man. There are also some Director and Composer Profiles, Screen Tests, a Gag Reel, Music Videos, Trailers and even some VFX Outtake Easter Eggs.
Ultra HD Blu-ray VerdictSpider-Man is in better condition than ever before on this 4K disc release
Well-timed to coincide with the arrival of the latest Spider-Man entry, Sony release the previous five movies in a variety of different packages, including a 5-movie set, and separate 3-movie and 2-movie sets, with the UK's individual releases destined to land in the New Year. Returning right back to the start, here, for Spider-Man, we find that it's in better condition than ever before, with the native 4K presentation looking tremendous and impressing - as with so many films from this era do - even in comparison to its later digital peers, ironically limited with their 2K DIs. Add to that an Atmos track and a fabulous set of extras and it's well worth the upgrade. Recommended.
Suggested retail price when reviewed: £29.99
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