- The Washington Times - Saturday, July 14, 2012

One of the best comic-book-hero-themed films ever made returns to the Blu-ray format, offering fans a chance to appreciate its popcorn-munching fun as well as a couple of interactive experiences in Spider-Man (Sony Pictures Home Entertainment, rated PG-13, $19.99).

Director Sam Raimi’s masterful 2002 saga about the origins of Marvel Comics’ famed web-slinger starred the perfectly cast Tobey Maguire as Peter Parker (aka Spider-Man), Kirsten Dunst as Parker’s true love Mary Jane Watson, J.K. Simmons as the hilarious curmudgeonly newspaper publisher J. Jonah Jameson and a maniacal Willem Dafoe as Norman Osborn (aka Green Goblin).

The high-definition re-release of the movie offers a two-hour-plus reminder of Mr. Raimi’s ability to merge the complex and corny within an emotional love story.

It also delivers a potent reminder of how unnecessary it is to reboot the franchise with “The Amazing Spider-Man” film starring Andrew Garfield.

The Blu-ray disc offers a collection of extras from previous releases, including a short history of Spider-Man and behind-the-scenes featurettes, but makes an additional case for purchase by the casual gamer for its Spider Sense Trivia Challenge.

A player watches the film and must answer an often-difficult battery of multiple-choice questions that pop up about every two minutes. A 30-second time limit adds to the pressure while a sliding scale of points is awarded for each question based on the speed of answering.

So what do I consider a difficult question?

The quiz started off with “How many times did a stunt team have to drop ” and I couldn’t even keep reading. Production minutia like this reigns supreme with obscure questions on spiders and history also common — have a laptop open with Google loaded — with, sadly, very few questions about the comic book legend’s roots.

Let’s continue with the question gantlet.

When did Tobey Maguire first read a Spider-Man comic? Or, what year was Times Square named in the honor of The New York Times? And how about the eye-watering, footage from what Lucio Fulci film appeared during Peter’s DNA nightmare sequence?

Those about to give up can save a game in progress (duplicate questions do start popping up) and come back after watching as many extras as possible and listening to the commentary tracks.

This is a serious trivia challenge, folks. Only the temptation of a special video reward (one of five possible) as a payoff, and a rigid determination to not feel completely worthless kept me going. I ended up with a decent point total, but the special video was lame.

The second extra is much more relaxing and involves building and customizing a short video using elements from the film. The BD Live feature called the Cutting Room offers about 150 assets to choose from and integrates raw film clips, music nuggets and sound effects.

This presentation, similar to a watered-down version of iMovie, allows the user to mark start and end points on clips, place or move them around on a timeline, and watch the mash-up in a preview mode or upload to the BD Live community to get critiques.

Using the Blu-ray player controller with the interface takes some getting used to, but enough navigation options exist to allow a painless production of the clip.

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