Spider-Man: No Way Home turned out to be one of the most exciting, if not the most exciting, films of 2021. This can be attributed to not only the quality of the production, but also because of the fan-serving elements (the multiverse brought three Spider-Man actors together) and multiple Easter eggs throughout the 148-minute feature. ‘No Way Home’ also arrived at the tail end of the Covid-19 pandemic that almost destroyed the theater industry, but along with No Time To Die attributed to over $2.5 billion in box office sales across the world.
Marvel/Sony released the digital versions of Spider-Man: No Way Home on March 15 and is available in Digital HD and 4K UHD. But 4K Blu-ray is still the top of the food chain in terms of home theater presentation, providing higher bit-rates than streaming and better compression methods for both video and audio. There are several 4K Blu-ray editions that were released on April 10, as well as a standard Blu-ray edition that is included with the 4K Blu-ray combo editions. Here is a review of the 4k Blu-ray presentation.
‘No Way Home’ is presented in 2160p (4k) at 2.39:1 aspect ratio with Dolby Vision/HDR10 High Dynamic Range specs. The dual-HDR inclusion ensures increased color depth (up to 1-bits) on most HDR TVs, as well as on tablets, phones, and monitors that support the specifications, even if the screen is not 4k resolution. The video from the 4k disc played on a Sony M2 streamed at around 45-60Mbps, with peaks noticed around 65Mbps and drops to about 28Mbps.
Visually, Spider-Man: No Way Home has so many good things to talk about, one of them being the superb effects work and visuals that made the film so much more realistic than past ‘Spidey’ productions. The introduction of Doctor Strange (and Wong) into the Spider-Man franchise made for one of the most visually spectacular moments in the film when Strange creates a mirror dimension (at around 57 minutes). The footage of Sandman (the character we saw in Sam Raimi’s Spider-Man 3) looked great in the theater and translates well on 4k TVs.
The final battle scene at the Statue of Liberty was certainly on the darker spectrum of the color palette and does not seem to have the same weight as it did on the big screen. Maybe it has to do with the scale of the imagery that really immerses the viewer in the scene. Or, maybe it’s the very evident grain of the night sky (the backdrop for most of the scene until sunrise) that diminishes the home experience. Or, maybe it’s just a subjective opinion of how the climax of the film looks.
On the 4k Blu-ray Disc the soundtrack is offered in English Dolby Atmos/Dolby TrueHD 7.1 (24-bit, 48kHz). French (Canadian), Spanish, and Thai audio is offered in Dolby Digital 5.1, and Portuguese in DTS-HD Master Audio 5.1. Subtitles are provided in English, English SDH, French, Portuguese, Spanish, Cantonese, Korean, Mandarin (Simplified), Mandarin (Traditional), and Thai (less).
Spider-Man: No Way Home delivered an incredible audio experience that was especially great if you saw it in a theater with Dolby Atmos surround sound. The 4k Blu-ray does its best to deliver the immersive format in a home theater environment, and even in lesser speaker setups (including headphones) there is plenty of sound design to activate your auditory sensors.
There are lots of low-frequency effects, especially in the battle scenes. The scene on the bridge when Doctor Octopus (Alfred Molina) is smashing and tossing cars around has a wide variety of audio depth that activates many speakers and frequency ranges.
The surround sound is excellent in ‘No Way Home.’ There’s a cool moment at 1:10:30 when Peter Parker’s spider-sense is tingling. The Sandman asks, “Peter, what’s wrong?” can be heard around multiple speakers and with some good bass. This is the moment before Peter throws a web on the Goblin’s arm.
The Blu-ray Disc offers audio in DTS-HD Master Audio 7.1 channel – not quite the capability of Dolby Atmos but still an immersive mix nevertheless.
The big controversy with the release of Spider-Man: No Way Home on Blu-ray and 4k Blu-ray stems from an early Walmart image of the back of the disc packaging that promised 90 minutes of Bonus Material including Deleted and Extended Scenes. When our copies arrived we realized the Blu-ray Disc (which holds all the special features) only contained 80 minutes of bonus material and no deleted or extended scenes. Why Sony removed the ten minutes of extras is still unknown, if the material was even supposed to be included in the first place. There were some rumors about a second theatrical run of ‘No Way Home’ with the deleted and extended scenes, in which case Sony may have held back the footage to sell more movie tickets. But that theory doesn’t appear to hold water, as many home media releases use deleted and extended scenes to sell discs. In any case, are you going to return your 4k Blu-ray edition from Walmart because it doesn’t have the extra ten minutes? Likely not.
The bonus content that does appear on the Blu-ray Disc is well worth the watch. One of the featurettes, Action Choreography Across the Multiverse” really gives you an insight into how much of this movie was filmed inside a studio to get all the incredible mid-air movement, but also how some of the stunts were filmed outside of a studio setting. For example, seeing Tom Holland and Zendaya jump off a cherry picker to get a realistic look at them jumping off the bridge in New York City was an eye-opener. And, the featurette shows some of the stunt fights and how Holland and Willem Dafoe did a lot of the fighting themselves.
Additional bonus features include Bloopers and Gag Reel, Alternate Reality Easter Eggs, A Multiverse of Miscreants, Enter Strange, Realities Collide, Spiders Unite, Graduation Day, A Spectacular Spider-Journey with Tom Holland, Weaving Jon Watts’ Web, The Sinister Summit, A Meeting of the Spiders, The Daily Bugle, Stunt Scene Pre-Vis, and Theatrical Marketing Materials.
You could spend hours talking about how relevant Spider-Man: No Way Home is to other Marvel titles. It’s the 27th film in the Marvel Cinematic Universe and loaded with Easter eggs that make it a must-watch for fans. But in terms of video and audio quality, ‘No Way Home’ is quality stuff, even if the 4k Blu-ray is derived from a 2k Digital Intermediate. The audio though, is a bonanza. There is such a wide range of frequencies, effects, and object-based surround sound elements that takes the home theater experience to a different level. The bonus material is satisfying (even though deleted and alternate scenes were removed) adding even more reason to add ‘No Way Home’ to your home media collection.