Customer Review

37 of 40 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Spider-Man for the New Kids, 3 July 2006
This review is from: Spider-Man - The New Animated Series - Season 1 [DVD] [2004] (DVD)
I have to admit I was little sceptical ordering this DVD. I'm a huge Spidey fan, and the animated series that was released in the 90's I still hold as being one of the greatest cartoons ever made. This is why I was worried when I saw an updated version was being released after the first Spider-Man film; I thought it may be slightly over indulgent, and not have the captivating feel of the robust 90's cartoon.

However, from the first episode it was clear that this was a different attempt altogether. The relationship between the three main characters of Peter Parker, Mary-Jane Watson and Harry Osborn is clear from the start. Provided the viewer is familiar with the Spider-Man film, personalities and conflicts between the roles are obvious and easy to connect with, as is Peter's emotional difficulties with Mary Jane.

This familiar scenario made me to feel more comfortable with the new computer animated setting that the show is set in. Being a fan of traditional animation, I thought that using computers might be taking an easy way out, but this is not the case. It is clear in each episode why new technology was used in creating this series; purely because the camera shots attempt to achieve what cannot be drawn. Particular scenes where Spider-Man is chasing a vehicle out of control/criminals escaping use wonderful tracking shots to capture all of Parker's acrobatics as he swings effortlessly through wonderfully polished scenery.

This new form of animation comes into best effect during low light scenes. During the `Sword of Shikata' episode, there is a beautifully dark scene where Shikata breaks into a holding cell, but must promptly escape when Spider-Man appears in pursuit. The scene is lit but red flashing security lights and a dull blue glow from an opening in the roof (a lovely costume reference). The way the characters are illuminated looks almost reminiscent of shots from Sin City, very film noir.

This darker approach is emulated again through certain deaths in the series. This was a big surprise to me, as was the approach to violence. Some moments of this series truly are brutal for a cartoon; that's right parents, I'm afraid even women get hurt in this show. But its interesting to see the makers have gone for this more realistic, `the threat can be anywhere and to anyone' philosophy, perhaps giving this series something to be remembered for.

On the whole however, it just lacks the atmosphere and tension of the 90's series; this is why I felt I couldn't give the full rating. The 90's version notched up an impressive 65 episodes, all continuing stories that the viewer really felt for. This however felt a bit more like a quick fix before the release of spider-Man 2 in the cinemas. A good attempt however; I'm glad I have it in my collection and would definitely recommend it to all Spidey fans. Oh, and the cameo from Michael Clarke Duncan as the Kingpin cannot be missed!
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