Spider Man 2.1

STUDIO: Sony Pictures Entertainment
MSRP: $19.94
RUNNING TIME: 136 Minutes
Feature Commentary w/ Laura Ziskin and Alvin Sargent
Sneak peek at Spider-Man 3
"Inside 2.1" featurette
"Danny Elfman’s Score" featurette
"With Great Effort Comes Great Recognition" featurette
"VFX Breakdown" featurette
Pop-up trivia track

The Pitch

fractionally improved over Spider-Man 2! Or is it? Now you’re
intrigued, aint’cha?"

The Humans

"The Letter E" Maguire, Kirsten "Pucker, Damnit" Dunst,
James "I Miss Apatow" Franco, Alfred "I Fuckin’ Love This
Part" Molina, Rosemary "Quick, To The Lighthouse!" Harris, and
J.K. "Vern" Simmons.

The Nutshell

The film: Peter Parker (Maguire) runs into
a spell of introspection as he balances his dual lives, unsure of how
Spider-Man will fit into the plans he has for his life. At the same time, by
some physical law yet undiscovered, the universe has brought forth a
super-villain that only Spider-Man can defeat: the dreaded Doctor Octopus.

The DVD: With Spider-Man 3 forthcoming,
Sony decided to release this splendid adventure with the cash-grab addition of
eight minutes of mostly useless footage edited seamlessly back into the film. Also,
while the similarly pointless X-Men 1.5 release suggested a
midpoint between the first movie and the sequel, Spider-Man 2.1 suggests
another few iterations between now and the third film. I don’t like your naming
scheme, Sony, logical as it may appear to computer scientists.

"His eyes can see . . . straight into your heart!"

The Lowdown

There’s a
certain freedom in writing DVD reviews, especially for second-helpings like
this disc. The big boys have already dealt with the more significant critical
considerations, leaving me a bit more room to editorialize. If go too far,
though, I’ve got this collar that Nick installed on me. It’ll explode if I go
over an opinion-to-criticism ratio of 2:1. It’ll also explode if I express any
sort of emotion toward Christina Ricci.

opinion of note is that I think Spider-Man 2 is an extraordinarily
uneven film. It possesses periods of kinetic brilliance, effortless emotional
hooks, and quirky humor; but such successful bits of filmmaking only make up
about half of the running time, with the rest occupied by either the mediocre
or the wretched in the areas of dialogue, choreography, and character
interaction. Each peak of moviegoing bliss carries with it the sad realization that
a valley is soon to follow. Those peaks do climb awfully high, but Raimi wasn’t
able to sustain the elevation.

If you wanna catch a human hand, you’ve gotta think like a human hand.

the additional footage included in 2.1 here only serves to highlight
the bumpy road. None of the restored scenes contribute anything to the
development of the story. Most are included only for humor’s sake; the couple
of serious ones come off as redundant, harping further on the same morals that came
down with a heavy hand already in the theatrical cut. Of course, seeing JK
Simmons leaping around the spider suit, going "Thwip, thwip!" might
well make up for all the added potholes, if it didn’t come at a point when the
last thing the audience needs is relief in the form of comedy. Where in the
theatrical cut, the peaks and valleys come at a natural place, the editing
choices made with these insertions really just fall flat. It’s only eight
minutes, but you won’t gloss over any of them.

All of
which brings me to my biggest opinion, which is that I am deeply in love with Spider-Man
. I think it’s monstrous fun, and I keep revisiting it. The
overwritten dialogue sequences and reliance on technobabble to sell the villain
may haunt the whole running time, but the intent of each scene is made so plain
and earnest that’s it’s hard not to trust the strength of plotting. I’m a bit
baffled by my results with the movie, honestly. When an action film is so full
of things to forgive that it taxes the audience’s charity, rather than drawing
on the bank of their pleasure, the outcome rarely scores as well as does Spider-Man
. For me, the apt comparison is to Disney’s Beauty and the Beast,
which took its own harmless moralizing, humor, and action and centered them in
a plot framed by believable danger and killer imagination. I first experienced Beauty
and the Beast
as a child, and there’s something about Spider-Man
that transports me back to that childlike mode.

I took this screen capture on 4/20.

theatrical cut does, anyway. What difference do eight minutes make? Not a whole
hell of a lot, in the big picture, but these are afterthought scenes; nothing
necessary, nothing with a pulse. Certainly nothing worth justifying a

The Package

of having no reason to double-dip, I present to you the bonuses. The first disc
contains a feature commentary by producer Laura Ziskin and writer Alvin
Sargent. It’s an exercise in negative space, I guess, since there’s almost more
silence in the track than there is commentary. Neither have much particularly
interesting to say about the production, and only really come to life during
the new scenes, which suggests they ought to have limited their efforts to just
those periods. The feature also contains a pop-up trivia track, like the
"Follow the White Rabbit" feature in The Matrix.

second disc holds a sneak peek of Spider-Man 3 (nothing new,)
featurettes on visual effects, scoring, and patting-one’s-own-back, and a short
piece on the process of restoring the cut footage into 2.1.

"Why are you always on about spiders, Jonah?"
"I… I want to be one."

So, let’s
see, going back through and summing up, it looks as if I’ve got about three opinions
and one piece of legitimate criticism.

Oh, fuck—
Remember me, Christina!

7 out of 10