Reviewed by Blake Kenny (February 5, 2003)
Even before last yearís blockbuster monster hit crawled into theatres, I would consider myself a Spider-man fan. While Iím sure many people jumped on to the Spidey bandwagon after the film went big, Iíve always been somewhat of a Spider-man nut. Iíve always been a fan of anything that allowed me to escape from reality for a few minutes.
Not only was I pretty much raised on the classic 60ís cartoon series, but when I became a teenager/young adult, I was big into collecting comics books as well. I spent far too much money on comics in fact Ė collecting not only The Amazing Spider-man, The Spectacular Spider-Man, Web of Spider-man and just plain Spider-man, but about 20 other titles as well. I even spent a ton of time drawing comics with aspirations of perhaps, once day drawing them for a living.
Eventually, after 6 or 7 years of serious collecting and reading myself into the poorhouse, I slowly gave up the hobby. Comics were really big shortly after I got into them, and somehow paying $3-4 an issue for some comics felt like petty extortion. Basically I just couldnít afford to buy all the titles I wanted anymore. So I cut back on the number of titles I collected, placing Spideyís head on the chopping block in favour of a few characters I enjoyed moreÖ in particular The Punisher. Still, even he became victim soon after, as I inevitably stopped collecting all together. Granted, I still love comics, but not to the extent that I once did. The fireís still there, but the funds arenít.
Anyhow, while I was thrilled to see everyoneís favourite wall crawler get the big screen justice he deserved, I knew the popularity of the film would result in a marketing cash-cow for Marvel comics and whoever else was involved. Spider-manís arrival in theatres obviously meant merchandising overload Ė and soon after the film was in theatres, the first DVD full of Spider-man cartoons hit the stores. Then, after it lengthy theatrical run the film also ended up on DVD; and we were treated to a second batch of these toons. Obviously this second release was capitalizing on the subsequent growth in popularity of the Green Goblin. So this being the case, hereís the review of Spider-man: The Return of the Green Goblin for your reading pleasure.
One thing Iíll say about this disc and the one that came before right from the start. Itís very vague about itís contents. I happen to work in a store that sells DVDís and you would be amazed how many times someone brought the animated disc up to me and asked if it was the movie. Another thing Ė once you finally figure out that itís animated, youíre still left wondering which animated series these episodes are from. As you know, there have been several different Spider-man toons over the years, so to clear matters up, these are primarily the episodes from the early 90ís. The new series that highlights todayís hot characters - like Venom and Carnage. This is modern day Spidey.
For those of you who actually watched the TV show, youíre probably aware that this series played out in somewhat of an episodic format. Many of the subplots would carry over from one episode to the next. So while most of these episodes centre on the Green Goblin, there are many underlying plotlines going on that might go right over your head. Unless youíre very familiar with the characters youíre likely to miss out on some of the showís subtleties.
The DVD basically includes 4 episodes from the series. There are 2 more bonus episodes included on the disc, but Iíll discuss those later in the bonus section. The episodes include The Spot, Goblin War, Turning Point and Guilty. First off Iíll mention that the title of this DVD can be somewhat misleading, especially when the Green Goblin only appears in 2 out of these 4 episodes. In fact the 4 episode are linked more by a device known as the ĎTime Dilation Acceleratorí than anything else.
Not only is the time dilator a major factor in these shows, but it also brings about the creation of a new characters knows as ĎThe Spotí. Itís after the creation of the Spot in the first episode that the time dilator seems to move from one owner to another. Along the way the focus of each episode shifts to characters like the Kingpin of crime, the Hobgoblin and the Green Goblin. The time dilator is also responsible for a key moment when the Green Goblin discovers Spider-man secret identity and proceeds to torment Peter Parkers family.
In fact, the only episode of the 4 that I could have done without is the one entitled Ė Guilty. Not only did this episode have nothing to do with the Green Goblin, but the time dilator was nowhere to be seen either. In the scheme of the overall series, Iím sure this would have been nothing more than a filler episode.
As far as the look of the show goes, it pretty much standard fair. Itís basically Saturday morning cartoons with a nice mixture of primitive CG whenever Spider-man swings through the city. While the animation isnít bad, itís definitely assembly line stuff. When you have tons and tons of episodes to pump out during a season, this is the sort of animation youíre likely to see. Cookie cutter cartoons. Nothing grand, but it gets the job done.
Being a Spider-man fan, it was interesting to see the animated show since I havenít seen in years. Not only was it interesting, but it was even a little enjoyable. Iím sure that if I were 12 Iíd enjoy it even more.
While this DVD was clearly released to capitalize on the re-emerging popularity of the characters. Iím sure it was only a matter of time until we saw something like this on DVD anyway. Spider-man has always been a well known superhero and simply put, I donít think his popularity ever really diminished. Truthfully, itís just smart business to release these toons when the movie hits big. Thatís marketing! I mean what other proof do you need. The Animated DVD Ė Daredevil Vs Spider-man releases on February 11th 2003, a mere 3 days before the Daredevil feature film hits movie theatres throughout North America. Isnít that convenient?