Blu-ray and DVD Reviews

Daredevil Vs. Spider-Man

Reviewed by: Scott Chitwood
Movie Rating:
7 out of 10
Extras Rating:
6 out of 10
Movie Details:
View here

Starring:
Christopher Daniel Barnes as Spider-Man/Peter Parker (voice)
Edward Asner as J. Jonah Jameson (voice)
Sara Ballantine as Mary Jane Watson (voice)
Roscoe Lee Browne as Kingpin/Wilson Fisk (voice)
Linda Gary as Aunt May Parker (voice)
Dawnn Lewis as Detective Terri Lee (voice)
Rodney Saulsberry as Joseph 'Robbie' Robertson (voice)
Edward Albert as Daredevil/Matt Murdock (voice)
Dorian Harewood as Tombstone (voice)
Alfonso Ribeiro as Randy Robertson (voice)
Leigh Baker Bailey as Alicia Silvermane (voice)

Special Features:
1966 Bonus Episode "King Pinned" featuring Kingpin
Fantastic Four Bonus Episode - Featuring Daredevil
Stan Lee's Soapbox
Stan Lee Introduction To Episodes

Other Info:
English and Spanish Languages
Full Screen
Running Time: 80 Mins.
Dolby Digital
Captions Subtitles

Synopsis:
This DVD features four episodes of the Spider-Man animated series from the 90's. It is the third such DVD to offer episodes of the cartoon. The episodes on this disc include the following:

- "Framed" and "The Man Without Fear" - When Peter Parker is framed for treason by the Kingpin, Matt Murdock is hired to defend him. However, Peter Parker is busted out of jail….by Spider-Man! With the FBI and police after him, Parker gets away and teams up with Daredevil to get to the bottom of the mystery and clear his name. The two must face The Chameleon, Kingpin, and the real traitor along the way. To make matters worse, Aunt May falls ill making Peter's situation all the more desperate.

- "The Ultimate Slayer" - When Smythe fails yet again to capture Spider-Man, the Kingpin finally loses his patience. He allows another mad scientist to take Smythe and turn him into a biological robot - the Ultimate Spider Slayer. No longer in control of his mind, the Slayer does Kingpin's bidding and faces off with the wall-crawler whom he believes killed his father. Little does he realize that the Kingpin holds his father in suspended animation. It's up to Spider-Man to set things right though he's distracted by the recent engagement between Harry Osborn and Mary Jane Watson.

- "Tombstone" - When the Daily Bugle investigates Alicia Silvermane, she hires Tombstone to put an end to the story. He takes a personal bit of satisfaction in the job because he is an old acquaintance of Robbie Robertson, editor of the Daily Bugle. The two have a long and dark history together. Robbie finds additional pressure when Spider-Man discovers that his son has joined a new gang.

This DVD is not rated.

The Movie:
The makers of this DVD obviously love to cash in on Marvel hype when their characters hit the big screen. They issued the first DVD from this animated series upon the release of the Spider-Man movie. They released the second one, highlighting the Green Goblin, upon the release of the Spider-Man DVD. Now, on the week of Daredevil's release, they issue these cartoon episodes with special emphasis on the Man Without Fear. Though it seems like they're riding on the coattails of the movie, it's good marketing and a nice treat for Spider-Man and Daredevil fans. (The DVD has previews for X-Men and Hulk cartoon DVD's which will undoubtedly be released when the new films hit the big screen.)

I enjoyed the Spider-Man animated series, but I never saw all the episodes. This DVD offers up a good opportunity to catch up on them. The episodes are part of the "Sins of the Fathers" series seen on the previous DVDs. That title seems all the more appropriate now as pretty much every character has some sort of dysfunctional relationship with their dad.

These cartoons not only offer up classic Spidey action, but they offer the origins of some classic Marvel comic characters. You get the origins of Daredevil, Kingpin, and Tombstone in these cartoons. While watered down a bit for Saturday Morning fare, they're still cool to see played out in the animated series.

The stories in these episodes are pretty faithful to the comics, which is good. However, I didn't always like the way the stories flowed. The episodes frequently start out in the middle of the story then rely on numerous flashbacks to bring you up to speed. It's a bit disorienting and you start to wonder how much you missed from previous episodes. The truth is these stories pretty much stand-alone.

The animation doesn't hold up so well on the home theater system, but that's forgivable.

The Extras:
Considering that the creators could have simply thrown these episodes on a DVD and been done with it, we're fortunate that there's a fair amount of attention paid to the extras and the presentation of the material. This DVD is a lot better than you'd expect.

If you choose, you can have Stan Lee introduce each episode for you. He discusses important aspects of the characters or stories in the episode. We learn why he made Daredevil a lawyer, his thinking behind the Kingpin, and his emphasis on making the stories realistic and character driven. It's fun to hear Lee reminisce. And if you want more, there's a 20-minute interview with Stan Lee in his "Soapbox" where he gets heavily into the creation of Daredevil. He discusses his costume, aspects about him being blind, his love life, and more. If you're a Daredevil fan, you'll want to see this.

Daredevil fans will also want to see the bonus Fantastic Four episode on this disc, "A Blind Man Shall Lead Them". This FF cartoon from the 90's isn't quite the quality of the Spider-Man series, but it features Daredevil rather prominently in this episode. When Doctor Doom accidentally finds a way to remove the powers of the Fantastic Four, it's up to 'ol Horn Head to help them face off with Doom and restore their powers before all of their enemies join in for revenge. Daredevil is portrayed in a much more lighthearted way in this story and it's interesting to see a different writer's take on the character. He cracks jokes and even takes on one of the more powerful Marvel super villains. Considering that this episode wouldn't otherwise see the light of day (unless a Fantastic Four movie arrives soon), this is one that Daredevil fans will really get a kick out of.

While the old 1966 Spider-Man theme song brings on a sense of nostalgia, the animated "King Pinned" episode from the old series was enough to make me really cringe. One of the earlier episodes in the series, it features the Kingpin trying to pressure J. Jonah Jameson into pulling a Daily Bugle story on his fake prescription drug scam. Of course, it's up to Spider-Man to save the day. (Sounds like the "Tombstone" episode of the 90's series, eh?) While fun to watch at first, the episode ends up consisting of 50% of the same web swinging footage over and over again. It's the exact same Spider-Man animation, just played over differing backgrounds repeatedly as time filler. It becomes tedious to the point you might want to turn it off.

Despite this, though, the DVD extras help round this out into a first rate presentation of the cartoon episodes. On a side note, a behind the scenes look at Pirates of the Caribbean is included on the DVD. There is a ton of production artwork shown along with interviews with Jerry Bruckheimer and Gore Verbinski. It's enough to make you excited about the film.

The Bottom Line:
Overall, this is a DVD to add to your collection if you're either a Spider-Man or Daredevil fan. Kids will love the cartoons and comic fans will love seeing classic stories played out in full animation.

Order this DVD @ Amazon

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