Amazing Spider-Man 2, The 4K UltraHD

WSR Score4
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Sony Pictures Home Entertainment
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Sequences of sci-fi action/violence
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Single Side, Dual Layer (BD-50)
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Marc Webb
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Dolby Digital 5.1, DTS HD Lossless 5.1
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The Amazing Spider-Man 2 finds Peter Parker (Garfield) feeling quite comfortable as he swings between skyscrapers, embracing his role as New York City's hero and spending time with Gwen Stacy (Stone). But being Spider-Man comes at a price: only Spider-Man can protect his fellow New Yorkers from the formidable villains that threaten the city. With the emergence of Electro (Foxx), a foe far more powerful than Spider-Man, he faces his greatest battle yet. And as his old friend, Harry Osborn (DeHaan), returns Peter comes to realize that all of his enemies have one thing in common: Oscorp. (Gary Reber)

Special features include commentary with the filmmakers; 13 deleted scenes with commentary by Director Marc Webb, including Peter Meets His Father; the featurette The Wages Of Heroism: Making The Amazing Spider-Man 2; Alicia Keys' "It's On Again" music video; and an UltraViolet digital copy.

The 4K digital intermediate was created from anamorphic Panavision 35 mm Kodak film. The images have a different look than material originating as digital images. There remains some of the smoothness associated with film images, yet detail is excellent. These images aren’t quite as hyper-detailed as images that originated as 4K or higher resolution in digital form, but it’s difficult to describe how this affects image quality. Color is nicely saturated, and you see more colors in most everything—even the red-orange tomatoes on the orange cutting board in Aunt May’s kitchen—than are apparent in the HD Blu-ray images. There is some manipulation of palette, but it varies from scene to scene. Images range from natural looking to mildly stylized. Everything is in keeping with the Marvel comic book origins of the story and characters. The overall look is quite attractive and “comfortable.” In the process of creating the digital intermediate, all frame-to-frame wander (horizontal) and judder (vertical) that usually comes with film has been avoided, giving images the solid, steady, frame-to-frame relationships you get from digital images. Film, being a physical medium, has inevitable mechanical tolerances in the system during printing the film for release and during projection, so you get the steadiness of digital images and the smoothness of film images. It’s an attractive look but doesn’t quite reach the nearly unbelievable amount of detail in the best 4K cinematic images that originated as 4K or higher resolution. (Doug Blackburn)

The Dolby Atmos soundtrack sounds like the previous DTS-HD Master Audio™ 5.1 soundtrack. It is now expanded to TrueHD 7.1 with Atmos. The height channels, again, lack any attempt to create a truly immersive entertainment experience. Some music is placed in the height channels, but only one or two specific instruments in any given musical sequence appear in the height channels. For example, you may hear only the synthesizer portion of the music in the height channels, while 15 or 20 orchestral instruments are playing in the ear-level channels. Or you may hear only the piano and cello in the height channels while many other instruments are heard in the ear-level channels. Instruments in the height channels also have louder, primary sound being reproduced in the ear-level channels. When the private jet is going down, after the fight onboard, the cabin suffers a dramatic loss of pressure. At that point there is some mild windy noise and rustling paper sounds in the height channels, but you might expect that to be much louder in the height channels, given the amount of wind noise that would be present in a jet flying 400 mph with a hole in the fuselage. The wind noise from an open car window at 70 mph is louder than the wind noise during this scene of the movie.

As with the other Atmos soundtracks reviewed to date, there are long periods of silence from the height channels. If you remove the music from the height channels, the action-related content in the height channels is surprisingly minimal. And as usual, ambient sounds that would seriously improve the immersive aspect of having height channels are almost entirely missing. When Gwen is going up in an Oscorp glass elevator and speaking to an Oscorp employee who is about to become Electro, none of the inevitable echo of the voices inside the glass and steel elevator is present in the height channels. Electro’s big Times Square scene should have had a ton of ambient sound in the height channels, but we get only a little hum from high-power electric lines, and a few overhead web-shots, and a little wooshing. No sound at all from the height channels when a billboard breaks away from the side of a building and falls to the ground. Electro’s voice-in-his-head spins around the room in an interesting effect that combines overhead channels and ear-level channels, but all the wonderful ambience that could have added “you are there” realism is just not present in the height channels at all. (Doug Blackburn)