Release Date(s)2017, 2019 (November 11, 2019)
Studio(s)Columbia Pictures/Marvel/Universal/Sony (Random Space Media)
- Film/Program Grade: See Below
- Video Grade: See Below
- Audio Grade: See Below
- Extras Grade: B-
- Overall Grade: B+
[Editor’s Note: This a REGION-FREE release. The bulk of this review is by Bill Hunt, with additional coverage of the Blu-ray 3D disc release by Tim Salmons.]
Two months after the events of Captain America: Civil War, things aren’t coming together quite as quickly as young Peter Parker (Tom Holland) might have hoped. Tony Stark’s assistant, Happy (Jon Favreau), will barely return his calls, and the Avengers haven’t exactly mailed his membership card. So Peter does the best he can as Spider-Man, fighting neighborhood crime, trying to get through high school, and worshiping the cute girl in class, Liz, with his pal Ned (Jacob Batalon). But things get interesting when alien technology starts falling into the hands of local street hoods, technology that Peter gamely tracks back to its source: a blue-collar salvage operator and would-be crime boss named Toomes (Michael Keaton). When Parker tries to foil Toomes’ plan, he quickly gets in over his head, causing Stark (Robert Downey, Jr.) to lose faith in him. So Peter must find a way to prove the kind of person he really is, not just to Stark... but to himself and those he loves most.
There are a number of surprising aspects to Spider-Man: Homecoming, including how down to earth the film is and how funny it manages to be. But the most surprising thing may simply be just how many different shades Marvel Studios manages to find for the films in its Cinematic Universe. Director Jon Watts and the screenwriting team succeed here in rebooting Spider-Man without telling his origin story yet again, choosing instead to join the character in his early stages already in progress. For all his abilities, Peter Parker is still a teenager. If he’s going to join the Avengers one day, he has to go through his apprenticeship period first... and finish high school. More importantly, before he can save the world, Peter has to find his own place within it. Peter’s friendship with Ned is exploited for every bit of the comedy you’d expect, especially when Ned learns his secret identity early in the film, but this happens so naturally it’s easy to believe. His relationship with his Aunt May (Marisa Tomei) also helps to keep him grounded... at least as much as any teenaged webslinger can be. Keaton makes for a solid, and even a bit complicated and well rationalized, villain. It’s also worth mentioning that composer Michael Giacchino pays nice homage to Spider-Man’s long history with his lively score.
In the highly-anticipated follow-up, Spider-Man: Far From Home, Peter Parker is still reeling from the events of Avengers: Infinity War and Avengers: Endgame, which “blipped” him out of existence for five years. As a consequence, he longs for a more normal life, attempting to take a break from being Spider-Man and focusing on school and his long-time crush MJ (Zendaya). He and his high school class take a field trip to Europe, but trouble isn’t far away as Nick Fury (Samuel L. Jackson, who Peter has been trying to avoid) shows up and encourages him to take up the Avengers mantle. A man named Quentin Beck (Jake Gyllenhaal) has arrived from Earth 833 (confirming multiverse theory) and asks for Peter’s help in stopping a series of elemental monsters that are popping up all over Europe. Meanwhile, MJ is becoming suspicious of Peter’s disappearances while Ned continues to cover for him. Unbeknownst to everyone, a secret plot is being hatched by the cunning Mysterio, a master of deception and illusion, which will have long-term repercussions for both Peter Parker and Spider-Man.
Like the previous film, Spider-Man: Far From Home is deliriously enjoyable. Comic book fans may find things about it to nitpick, but the team behind the MCU continues to produce quality mainstream entertainment. The key to Spider-Man’s appeal is Tom Holland. He perfectly overcomes the obstacles as to why Peter Parker’s character has been difficult to adapt over the years. His naivete, mixed with his desire to rise above the adverse circumstances he constantly finds himself in (whether they be superhero-related or otherwise), is a relatable combination. Far From Home adds a few new wrinkles to his growing list of problems, the most damaging of which is revealed in the film’s final moments.
Far From Home also offers a variety of fun action sequences mixed with lighthearted humor and effective melodrama. However, the MVP of the story is Mysterio, a new character to the MCU who is incredibly well-realized. The sequence featuring Spider-Man caught in a series of Mysterio’s illusions is disorienting and effective. The other supporting characters also have their time to shine, especially Ned and MJ. And the film ends on such an amazing cliffhanger that it makes the next chapter in the Spider-Man franchise even more anticipatory.
Spider-Man: Homecoming was shot digitally on ARRI Alexa cameras in the ARRIRAW codec (2.8K) and finished as a 2K Digital Intermediate at the 2.39:1 aspect ratio. It’s been upsampled to 4K for this release and given an HDR color grade in both Dolby Vision and HDR10 flavors (which once you see will depend on your display’s capabilities). Given the lower resolution of the film’s digital capture, there’s a surprising amount of fine detail visible in this image, with good overall texturing, and tight definition. It’s a modest improvement over the regular Blu-ray, but an improvement nonetheless. Whichever HDR option you have access to, the result is a more natural range of contrasts, with deeper blacks, gleaming highlights, and much richer and more nuanced colors. The Dolby Vision adds a further measure of pop and flare from scene to scene, but the regular HDR10 shines too. Either way, you can enjoy the film with confidence without worrying that you’re missing out on anything. As for the Blu-ray 3D portion, it’s a mostly excellent experience. Aside from minor ghosting in a couple of places, the depth in the image is outstanding. Many of the action sequences, particularly at the Washington monument, are given more teeth with the extra dimension.
The film’s sound is available on 4K in an outstanding Dolby Atmos (7.1 Dolby TrueHD compatible) mix that really maximizes the soundstage’s full potential. The track offers excellent overall clarity and atmospherics, even in its softest moments, with lively surround movement and buttery smooth panning. The film’s set piece action scenes explode with weighty volume and bluster, all of it clean and supported by a tremendous foundation of bass. The overhead channels finish out the sound field with subtle immersion cues and extend the soundstage vertically during action moments, particularly notable during Spidey’s aerial battle on and around the Stark jet late in the film. The Atmos mix is smooth and seamless from start to finish, making this fairly close to a reference-quality audio experience.
Additional audio options on the 4K disc include English Descriptive Audio, and German and Japanese 5.1 DTS-HD Master Audio. Optional subtitles are available in English, English SDH, German, Japanese, and Turkish.
Audio options on the Blu-ray 3D include English 5.1 DTS-HD Master Audio; English Descriptive Audio; and Czech, Hungarian, Polish, and Turkish 5.1 Dolby Digital. Optional subtitles are available in English, English SDH, Arabic, Bulgarian, Croatian, Czech, Greek, Hebrew, Hungarian, Icelandic, Latvian, Lithuanian, Polish, Portuguese, Romanian, Serbian, Slovak, Slovene, and Turkish.
Spider-Man: Homecoming (Film/4K Video/3D Video/Audio): B+/A/A-/A
Spider-Man: Far From Home was shot digitally in the ARRIRAW codec (at 2.8 and 3.4K) using Arri Alexa Mini and RED Ranger 8K VV cameras with Zeiss Master Prime and Angenieux Optimo lenses. It was finished as a 2K Digital Intermediate at the 2.39:1 scope ratio for its theatrical release (with some scenes formatted in 1.90:1 for its IMAX release, as well as 1.78:1 for the lower grade school news report portions). The DI was upsampled for its release on Ultra HD and graded for high dynamic range in Dolby Vision (HDR10 is also available). It’s worth noting that the UHD only offers the 2.39:1 presentation minus the shifting ratios of the IMAX footage. There’s a definite improvement over its 1080p counterpart with deeper and more refined textures, especially on background objects, as well as a wider color gamut. The red and blue of Spider-Man’s suit really pops, as do the variety of European environments, particularly the carnival sequence which serves up a series of vibrant hues. Blacks are inky deep and contrast and brightness levels are virtually perfect. It’s a stellar video 4K presentation. The Blu-ray 3D offers a definite step up in three dimensional quality from its predecessor, particularly whenever Mysterio’s technology is used—including the sequence in which he foils Spider-Man with it. Depth and staging are markedly improved, offering a dynamic post-conversion experience.
Unfortunately, the English Dolby Atmos track falls short of the quality of its video counterpart. The volume has to be adjusted before things can get underway, but matters don’t improve much thereafter. It’s a fairly flat and unremarkable track. Low end is noticeably absent during the bigger effects sequences, as is the sub-thumping clarity of the pop songs. Dialogue is certainly discernible, but sound effects only have a fraction of the impact that they should. If the muscular DTS track presented on the accompanying Blu-ray were an option, you’d really have a more satisfactory presentation overall.
Additional audio options on the 4K disc include English and French Descriptive Audio; and Czech, French, Hindi, Hungarian, Polish, Portuguese, Slovak, Spanish, Tamil, Telugu, Thai, Turkish 5.1 Dolby Digital. Optional subtitles are available in English, English SDH, Arabic, Bulgarian, Cantonese, Chinese (Simplified), Chinese (Traditional), Croatian, Czech, French, Greek, Hebrew, Hungarian, Icelandic, Indonesian, Korean, Polish, Portuguese (Brazilian), Portuguese, Romanian, Serbian, Slovak, Slovene, Spanish, Thai, and Turkish.
Audio options on the Blu-ray Blu-ray 3D include English or Italian 5.1 DTS-HD Master Audio. Optional subtitles are available in English, English SDH, and Italian.
Spider-Man: Far From Home (Film/4K Video/3D Video/Audio): A/A/A/B-
Random Space Media’s 2-Movie Collection features six discs total, three for each film: two 4K UHDs, two Blu-ray 3Ds, and 2 Blu-rays. Each disc offers the following extras, all in HD:
DISC ONE: SPIDER-MAN: HOMECOMING (UHD)
- The Spidey Study Guide
- Photo Gallery (81 in all)
DISC TWO: SPIDER-MAN: HOMECOMING (BD3D)
DISC THREE: SPIDER-MAN: HOMECOMING (BD)
- The Spidey Study Guide
- Gag Reel (2:17)
- Deleted & Extended Scenes (10 in all – 16:17)
- A Tangled Web (6:11)
- Searching for Spider-Man (8:04)
- Spidey Stunts (5:48)
- Aftermath (4:47)
- The Vulture Takes Flight (6:01)
- Jon Watts: Head of the Class (5:29)
- Pros and Cons of Spider-Man (3:28)
- Rappin’ with Cap (4 PSAs in all – 2:26)
- Photo Gallery (81 in all)
- Spider-Man: Homecoming VR Trailer (1:38)
- An Inside Look at Marvel’s Spider-Man PS4 (2:45)
The Study Guide is essentially a pop-up trivia track that provides information throughout the film, while the Photo Gallery is an interactive slideshow featuring full 4K still photography of the characters and behind-the-scenes imagery. The extras are a bit glossy and not exactly comprehensive, but are still enjoyable and are fairly typical for Marvel’s special editions to date. Rappin’ with Cap is definitely the highlight, along with a look at the casting of the title character. Unfortunately, the trailers are for a tie-in videogame and VR experience, not the film itself.
DISC FOUR: SPIDER-MAN: FAR FROM HOME (UHD)
DISC FIVE: SPIDER-MAN: FAR FROM HOME (BD3D)
DISC SIX: SPIDER-MAN: FAR FROM HOME (BD)
- Peter’s To-Do List: A Short Film (3:22)
- Gag Reel & Outtakes (3:35)
- Deleted & Alternate Scenes (5 in all – 6:07)
- Teachers’ Travel Tips (4:58)
- The Jump Off (6:19)
- Stepping Up (3:42)
- Suit Up (4:38)
- Now You See Me (6:30)
- Far, Far, Far From Home (5:14)
- It Takes Two (3:09)
- Fury & Hill (3:29)
- The Ginter-Riva Effect (1:32)
- Thank You, Mrs. Parker (3:35)
- Stealthy Easter Eggs (4:23)
- The Brothers Trust (11:44)
- Select Scene Pre-Vis (5 in all – 8:20)
- Previews (2 in all)
These materials are a little glossy, but there are enjoyable moments, including the Gag Reel & Outtakes, though the Deleted & Alternate Scenes offer little and were best left out of the body of the film. The Peter’s To-Do List short film consists of an extended scene of Peter accomplishing all of his tasks before his trip to Europe, which was truncated in the final film. The featurettes cover the obvious subjects, including Tom Holland, Jake Gyllenhaal, Spider-Man’s place within the MCU, and various bits of behind-the-scenes footage. Though short, there are minor nuggets worth digging for. The Brothers Trust is a fundraising campaign video. The best extras are the Stealthy Easter Eggs and Select Scene Pre-Vis, both of which offer a bit more than the usual studio-controlled fluff. Also included are previews for Spider-Man: Into the Spider-Verse and Alex Rider.
Spider-Man: Homecoming and Spider-Man: Far From Home achieve the nearly impossible; they manage to re-launch and maintain the character as a part of the official Marvel Cinematic Universe and feel both fun and fresh too. Tom Holland not only makes a worthy Spider-Man, but he’s damn close to the perfect embodiment of the character, lending both Peter and Spidey a comic lightness and an earnest integrity that really works, particularly against the MCU’s darker and more “adult” characters. Plus, he’s got just a touch of Ferris Bueller about him that also suits him well. Random Space Media’s double feature package encapsulates three of the best ways to experience both films. Both 4K Ultra HD discs deliver very good A/V quality that should satisfy all but the pickiest home theater fans (aside from the disappointing Atmos audio on the second film). The added benefit of Blu-ray 3D make this the total package for both films. Recommended.
- Bill Hunt and Tim Salmons