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The Spectacular Spider-Man - The Complete Series
Studio: Sony Pictures Home Entertainment
Release Date: April 22nd, 2014

Synopsis: This adventure finds our hero tackling more Super Villains both old and new, including Chameleon, Venom and the Sinister Six: Electro, Doctor Octopus, Vulture, Sandman, Rhino and Shocker. While these criminals are almost more than Spidey can handle, his real struggle becomes an internal one. The stress is enough to drive a high school Super Hero over the edge, but making mistakes and learning lessons is all in a days work for the Spectacular Spider-Man!

Bonus Features:
-"Stylizing Spidey" Featurette
-"Spider-Man Re-Animated" Featurette
-"The Spectacular Spider-Man" Music Video
-Trailers

Technical Information:
-Runtime: 590 Minutes
-Screen Format(s): Anamorphic
-Languages: English 5.1, French (Parisian) 5.1, Spanish (Latin Am) 5.1, Italian 5.1, Portuguese (Brazil) 5.1
-Subtitles: English (UK), English (US), French (Parisian), Spanish (Latin Am), Italian, Portuguese (Brazil)
-Aspect Ratio: 1.78
-Discs: 4

The Spectacular Spider-Man - The Complete Series Blu-ray Review
By James Harvey

First off - who was surprised to see Sony Pictures Home Entertainment announce The Spectacular Spider-Man: The Complete Series to Blu-ray? I was. Given how the DVD releases for the series eventually fizzled, it didn't seem like we'd get to see more of this great cartoon released to home video, let alone Blu-ray! But here we are! The Spectacular Spider-Man in High-Def and, boy, does it look great! Outclassing all previous incarnations and current successors in nearly every aspect, The Spectacular Spider-Man is truly a Spider-Man fan's dreams come true. With top-class writing and animation, and surpassing nearly all the comic book-based cartoons currently on television today, The Spectacular Spider-Man harkens back to iconic classics of our favorite hero while perfectly updating the mythos for today.

Where previous Spider-Man cartoons may have been uneven in terms of quality, The Spectacular Spider-Man manages to be the first Spidey cartoon to arguably get everything right. The characters, the writing, the story, all of it. Updating the much-loved comic book icon without losing sight of what made the characters so great in the first place, The Spectacular Spider-Man is probably the most faithful interpretation of Spider-Man in animated form. The team behind this show, as we see episode after episode, just gets it. The show is obviously made with the utmost respect for Spider-Man's rich history, and definitely pays tribute to the humble Stan Lee and Steve Ditko's beginning of Marvel's classic hero. Not only that, but the show also pays healthy respect to the recent Sam Riami Spider-Man film series, another interpretation of the Wall-Crawler that had heavy ties to the character's long and fruitful four-color history.

As I mentioned briefly above, the writing and tone for the series really elevates this show above the previous Spidey cartoons. The show embraces the all-ages aspect of the character, appealing to viewers both young and old and neglecting neither. Spider-Man's adventures are over-the-top and exciting, while as Peter Parker he deals with the normal drama-filled filled trappings of being a teen. Even if the Spidey's super-heroics bleed into Peter's regular life on occasion, I really enjoy how they make his regular life feel so real and genuine. Even when dealing with heavy stuff, such as death, the creative team handles it in a respectful manner. Thankfully the power of some of these strong scenes, such as in "Intervention" where Peter finds himself struggling against the black symbiote, are helped with some really strong animation. It's great to see a series where the writing and animation are so in-sync with each other.

To touch upon the show's animation and design work, I find that the show's very cartoony designs helped the show really succeed in pulling off some gutsy stuff. Just watch at how brutal some of the origin sequences are for Spidey's bad guys. They sound and look awful, but the cartoon-ish designs helps take the edge off. I also find The Spectacular Spider-Man concentrates on expressing character emotion and movement with the same emphasis it places on creating any big action beats, which is incredibly important if we're to believe the cast consists of real three-dimensional characters. Every bit of the cartoons feels like it belongs together, be it the bombastic action sequences (like the amazing opera sequence in "Gangland") or the quiet character moments (like the last couple minutes of "Nature Versus Nurture").

Thankfully, the animation is also up to the task. There are a few dips in quality, but nothing major. For example, I noticed the animation in the "Natural Selection" episode, particularly during some moments in the big Lizard/Spider-Man subway slug-fest, to be a bit sub-par, but nothing to really complain or cry foul about. But, that being said, the series also has these absolutely brilliant animated moments, such as the amazing fight scene in "Group Therapy" or the Electro/Spider-Man showdown in "Interactions." Without a doubt, the best animated episode of the entire series is "Opening Night." It looks absolutely stunning.

A major benefit to this series collection is getting the feeling of a complete story. While each episode does feel fresh and pretty self-contained, save for obvious multi-parters, the ongoing momentum of the series gives the show a whole different feel. The Spectacular Spider-Man truly feels like comic book adaptation by mimicking the same story-telling devices found on those four-color pages, with both short-term and long-term plot goals. While there is some set-up for the future seen in the final moments of the final episode, it also provides a suitable end-point, as well. Spidey's adventures will always continue, whether we're around to see them or not.

I've rambled on and on about this series and how it has managed to essentially nail everything right, and I compliment you brave readers for making it this far. The characters feel right, the villains are dead-on, and the drama is perfectly balanced by the action. The creators behind this show have created a great love letter to the best Spider-Man comics of the past four decades (and counting). It's no wonder this show has amassed such a dedicated fan-following. There's so much I haven't even touched on that I could easily expand on for many more paragraphs, such as the great voice cast, the clever and hip design work, the great little in-jokes and gags that only long-time Spidey and Greg Weisman fans will pick-up on, but it deserves to be experienced first-hand. And to those who've seen it, why suffer through my grumbles and grunts when you can just watch the episodes again? Go! Go!

And where is the best place to watch these episodes? Why ... on Blu-ray!

Sony Pictures Home Entertainment does not disappoint on this excellent The Spectacular Spider-Man: The Complete Series Blu-ray collection. Perhaps it's the utter shock and surprise of having this release on Blu-ray, something which didn't seem at all like a possibility but ... here it is! So, let's take a look!

Watching The Spectacular Spider-Man on Blu-ray is a bit of a revelation. The color and animation just pop up, the colors looking brighter and more boastful than any of the previous DVD releases. There always seemed to be a bit of a dull look to the series, especially on those older DVD titles, but that's non-existent here thanks to the sharp hi-def transfer. The audio and video is pretty excellent across the board, and actually brings a new shine to the animated series. The video transfer is really excellent, save for some minor aliasing and the odd bit of color banding here and there. Nothing distracting or really noticeable. The audio is just as clear, coming out crisp and boisterous. Action sequences sound full and robust, and the dialogue is clearly audible during quieter moments. All in all, just as great as you'd expect an animated television production to look ... oh so good!

So, what about the bonus features? Well, you won't get anything new outside of a couple updates trailers. Nearly all the bonus content on this release is recycled from previous The Spectacular Spider-Man home video titles but, you know what? It doesn't matter. The content isn't new, true, but given the scarcity of the previous releases, having them included on this Blu-ray is actually a plus. For those who may not have picked up the previous "The Complete Season One" DVD release, all that material is included here.

And just what is this material? The bonus features consist of two featurettes, a music video, and a selection of trailers. The first featurette "Spider-Man: Re-Animated," running for around14 minutes, provides a general look at the cartoon. The featurettes provides a look at the cast and crew for the series, all discussing why this version of Spider-Man is arguably the best one to date. It's fun to watch, true, but nothing really groundbreaking. Still, it gives a quick peek behind the scenes of this cartoon, enough to whet our appetites. . We hear from everyone, including the majority of the cast and crew, all discussing what makes this series the best interpretation of Spider-Man to date. Up next is "Stylizing Spider-Man," an eight-minute look at how the design for the series came together. It actually provides a nice, hefty look into the design aspect of the series, but definitely leaves the viewer wanting more. After that, we get a music video for the The Spectacular Spider-Man theme song and some trailers. All in all, about 30 minutes or so of bonus content. Not a lot, true, but much more than most animated shows seem to get these days.

The only really let down is the lack of deleted and extended scenes, along with alternate takes (mostly audio and added animation), that are locked away. Fans know they exist, the creators would like to see them released, and this would have been the perfect title for them. It's a shame we'll likely never get to see this extra content, though thankfully the final product we're left with more than makes up for it.

Despite the slight shortcomings in bonus features, there is no reason not to pick up this fine, fine Blu-ray release. The Spectacular Spider-Man: The Complete Series gives the best Spider-Man cartoon to date (hands down) the attention it deserves, and allows us to relive these near-perfect 26 episodes again and again. The rewatchability of The Spectacular Spider-Man is just through the roof here. Even if you own the previous DVD releases, the upgrade is more than worth it. With the entire series and a small smattering of bonus content all bundled together on four discs, there are hours of enjoyment to be had. If you’re a fan of the comic, the movies, or even have just a casual interest in the character, this is the version of Spider-Man that you want to check out. You will not be disappointed and will, quite likely, come out with a heavy desire for more. The Spectacular Spider-Man: The Complete Series is a Must Have addition to any fan’s collection!

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