Thursday, October 26, 2017

Spider-Man: Homecoming 4K Ultra HD Review

Reviewed by Sean Ferguson
One of the most beloved and iconic super heroes of all time is back with a fresh, new take on the character for Spider-Man: Homecoming, debuting on digital September 26 and on 4K Ultra HD/Blu-ray, Blu-ray 3D, Blu-ray and DVD October 17 from Sony Pictures Home Entertainment. Tom Holland (Captain America: Civil War) stars as Peter Parker, who, with the help of his mentor Tony Stark (two-time Academy Award nominee Robert Downey, Jr., Best Actor, Chaplin, 1992; Best Supporting Actor, Tropic Thunder, 2008), tries to balance his life as an ordinary high school student in New York City while fighting crime as his superhero alter ego Spider-Man. Directed by Jon Watts (Cop Car), Spider-Man: Homecoming also stars Academy Award nominee Michael Keaton (Best Actor, Birdman, 2014) as Adrian Toomes, a.k.a. Vulture, Jon Favreau (Iron Man franchise) as Happy Hogan, Zendaya (“K.C. Undercover”) as Michelle and Academy Award winner Marisa Tomei (Best Supporting Actress, My Cousin Vinny, 1992) as Aunt May.
Film (4 1/2 out of 5 stars)
While we've watched the Marvel Cinematic Universe expand throughout the various movies, it's been tough to know that a lot of Marvel characters can't be brought together solely because different studios own the rights to them. Fox has the X-Men and Wolverine, Sony has the Spider-Man universe, and Universal has the rights for standalone Hulk movies just to mention a few. However, in one of the best corporate decisions ever made, Sony Pictures agreed to allow Spider-Man into the MCU in exchange for Marvel's help in bringing in a new and better iteration of the character. It was a complicated deal that involved merchandising rights, producing fees, casting, and more but in the end they worked it out for the good of us all and I can't applaud their efforts enough. 

Spider-Man is the figurehead of the Marvel universe and it's thrilling to see him interact with the already established MCU characters. We got our first taste of that with Captain America: Civil War where Tony Stark (Robert Downey Jr.) brought in Peter Parker (Tom Holland) as a wild card to help him deescalate his conflict with Captain America (Chris Evans). In an amusing intro to this movie, we get to see those events replay out from the viewpoint of Peter who can't believe all that's happening to him. But before that, we get another flashback even earlier, eight years before in fact, that takes place after the Battle of New York, where the Avengers defeated Loki and the Chitauri but the collateral damage to the city is extensive. 

Adrian Toomes (Michael Keaton) and his salvage company have been hired to clean up the mess but that ends when the Department of Damage Control (a partnership between Tony Stark and the U.S. Government) ends that arrangement which sets him off on a criminal path. Toomes is determined to get what he feels he's deserved by stealing the Chitauri and advanced technology they recovered and modifying them and selling them as weapons. To help achieve that, Toomes has special flight gear that later gives him the nickname of "The Vulture." Despite that, Toomes is determined to keep a low profile so as to not bring down the Avengers on him. 

After being told that he's not ready to become a full fledged member of the Avengers, Peter Parker returns to his school studies and low level crime-fighting. Peter yearns for more, both as Spider-Man but also as Peter Parker who dreams of going out with one of his popular school mates Liz (Laura Harrier). Peter and his friend Ned (Jacob Batalon) aren't exactly with the "in" crowd, a fact that "Flash" Thompson (Tony Revolori) is happy to remind them about. It doesn't help that Peter's superhero activities keep interfering with his personal life, to the point of him having to drop out of his school's academic decathlon. Like all good Spider-Man stories, Peter Parker's dual lives cause him nothing but trouble.

I am so happy that Marvel is now involved in the telling of these stories as they know the subject matter better than anyone. While I loved the Sam Raimi Spider-Man films (especially the first two), the last two Amazing Spider-Man installments were disappointing overall. Tom Holland is well cast as the hero and his natural athleticism and good-natured innocence is perfect for the character. Michael Keaton plays a relatable bad guy who has gone over the edge without really knowing it for the sake of his family. He's relatable and has his own code, but can be quite ruthless when needed. Robert Downey Jr. is as awesome as he normally is and it's nice to see him continue in his mentor mode with Peter Parker that began with Captain America: Civil War. This is something new and uncharted for him and just like Peter, he needs to adjust to the new reality.

With the addition of Spider-Man to the MCU, I'm excited about the future stories that are possible now. I'm hoping that other studios take notice of this successful pairing and allow it to happen again so we can see The Fantastic Four and the X-Men fight alongside the Avengers at some point. It would make good business sense and it would thrill all of the fans too. In the meantime, we can enjoy these stories and see what exciting adventures Marvel can offer us in the future.
Video (4 out of 5 stars)
Spider-Man: Homecoming's UHD release offers both HDR and Dolby Vision, but I can only address the HDR version. This is a high quality transfer but it falls short of being labeled as reference quality. The colors are bright and the overall palette has a wide range and there's a lot of nice detail on display. Compared to the Blu-ray, the 4K version is better but not by as much I would have hoped for. There are some slight noise issues that pop up now and again but overall this is a solid transfer. 
Audio (5 out of 5 stars)
Spider-Man: Homecoming's UHD offers an excellent Dolby Atmos track that is much better than the DTS-HD Master Audio 5.1 mix that's found on the Blu-ray. While the picture quality may not be reference quality, this audio mix is and fans will be very pleased with this lively track that is a perfect showcase for the score, effects, and range for the film. The fight on the ship provides a perfect example of the perfectly accurate sonic landscape with the various sound effects like Spidey's web, the groaning of the ship as it comes apart, and of course Iron Man's various gadgets. The dialogue is also crystal clear and the music is well integrated into the rest of the sound mix. Fans will be very happy with this track!
Extras (3 out of 5 stars)
There's only two extras on the 4K disc itself: the Spidey Study Guide and the Photo Gallery. The rest of the  extras can be found on the Blu-ray disc. There's some interesting bits in here but they are all short and could have been expanded on more.
  • The Spidey Study Guide - A pop-up trivia track 
  • Deleted & Extended Scenes -  "A Film By Peter Parker (Director's Cut)," "Cafeteria," "Return from ATM," "Triskelion Cleanup," "Anxious Tomomes," "Aaron Still Stuck," "Go It Alone," "Happy Calls His Mom," "Midtown Final Segment," and "Mr. Harrington: Lessons in Love."
  • A Tangled Web - A look at the effort to bring Spider-Man into the MCU and how his unique position is juxtaposed with the rest of the MCU characters, and how Sony and Marvel collaborated on the film. This was very interesting and I bet there's a ton more to that collaboration that we didn't get. Whatever it took for it to happen it was worth it. 
  • Searching for Spider-Man - A look how Tom Holland got the role and with his young age how it affected the movie.  
  • Spidey Stunts - A look at Tom Holland's athletic abilities that were used for the role. His past experience with dance and gymnastics make his a perfect fit for his role and allowed him to do many of the stunts in the movie. 
  • Aftermath - A look at how the MCU's history impacted this film and storyline.  
  • The Vulture Takes Flight - A look at the Vulture, his history in the comics, and how he was incorporated into this film, as well as a look at Michael Keaton's performance in the film.
  • Jon Watts: Head of the Class - A quick look at the film's director on set. 
  • Pros and Cons of Spider-Man - Tom Holland and Jacob Batalon discuss the pros and cons of being Spider-Man in a humorous short bit.
  • Rappin' with Cap - This is a collection of several Captain America PSAs with good sport Chris Evans that includes PSAs on: "Safety First," "Food For Thought," "Brain Power," and "Your Changing Body."
  • Gag Reel - Clips of the cast messing up and having fun. 
  • Photo Gallery 
  • Trailers - Spider-Man Homecoming VR Trailer and An Inside Look at Marvel's 'Spider-Man' | PS4.
  • Digital Copy of the film
  • Blu-ray copy of the film
Summary (4 out of 5 stars)
Spider-Man: Homecoming is a great film that's a lot of fun to watch. It's great to see Spidey fully invested in the MCU finally and the entire cast does a fantastic job in their roles. This 4K set offers excellent video and audio quality and the extras are pretty decent too. This is an easy film to recommend! 

Order your copy today!

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