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A two-disc set for the Spider-fans

Offering commentaries, factoids and other extras, the 'Spider-Man' DVD spins an appealing web for lovers of the blockbuster movie.

November 01, 2002|Susan King | Times Staff Writer

Since its theatrical release in May, "Spider-Man" has earned more than $700 million worldwide, and with its $400-million domestic gross, the action-fantasy starring Tobey Maguire as Spidey is on track to become the third highest-grossing movie of all time in its first release.

So is the DVD of the box-office hit based on the popular Marvel Comics superhero a similar blockbuster? Well, not exactly. It's perfectly enjoyable, and it weaves a spell of fun for its legion of fans, but it just misses soaring into the stratosphere.

The two-disc set of "Spider-Man" (Columbia TriStar, $29), which hits stores today, is available in both widescreen and full screen. The first disc includes a fun factoid track called "Weaving the Web," which offers pop-up production notes and historical facts, and commentary with director Sam Raimi, co-producer Grant Curtis, producer Laura Ziskin and star Kirsten Dunst. Notably missing from the track are Maguire and Willem Dafoe, who plays Spidey's nemesis, the Green Goblin.

The Raimi and Curtis portion of the commentary was recorded separately from the Ziskin and Dunst commentary, so the end result is a bit discombobulated, but each group offers insights into the film's production.

A secondary commentary track, which gets a bit too technical at times, includes special effects designer John Dykstra and members of the visual effects crew. There is also a kicky track called "Branching Web-i-sodes," which offers a lengthy interview with the film's spider wrangler.

Rounding out the first disc are the obligatory trailers, TV spots, filmographies and music videos. The DVD-ROM allows viewers to read the comic book while watching the movie and even to record their own commentary track.

The second disc includes a passable HBO "Making of" documentary, a lightweight "Spider-Mania" special from E! Entertainment Special, a profile of director Raimi -- pointing out, among other things, that he always wears suits and ties on the set -- an informative profile of composer Danny Elfman, disappointing screen tests with Maguire, J.K. Simmons and the computer-generated image (CGI) of Spider-Man, costume and makeup tests, a lackluster gag and outtakes reel and a conceptual art and production designer gallery. The best feature on the second disc is the historical documentary "Spider-Man -- The Mythology of the 21st Century," which features interviews with Spidey's colorful co-creator Stan Lee and several of the artists who have drawn the comic books.

The DVD-ROM offers three comics, including "Peter Parker: Return of the Goblin."

The VHS version ($25) features a music video, and a special collector's-edition gift-set DVD ($40) also includes the "Stan Lee's Mutants, Monsters & Marvels" DVD; a reprint of "Amazing Fantasy #15," which introduced Spider-Man; a limited-edition lithograph by Spider-Man artists John Romita Sr. and John Romita Jr.; and a film cel from the movie, selected by Raimi, with his comments.

In conjunction with the release of the feature, Buena Vista Home Video has unfurled "Spider-Man: The Return of the Green Goblin" ($15 for VHS, $20 for DVD), which features four animated episodes from the animated 1990s TV series in which Spidey goes up against the Green Goblin and the Hobgoblin. The modest but enjoyable DVD also features introductions to each episode by Lee, an interview with Lee, an episode from the classic 1967 ABC animated series "The Terrible Triumph of Dr. Octopus" and an interactive game with Spidey's evil nemeses.

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