July 24, 2017

DVD Review: With Great Power... The Stan Lee Story

If there is one man we owe a lot of respect to for his contributions to pop culture, it is Stan Lee. The man has done so much and been through so much over the years. He is almost single handedly responsible for creating the Marvel Universe. He has a larger than life personality and always seems to have a smile locked and loaded for anyone he meets. Now, most of us know there is much more to him than that distinctive voice and perpetual smile. This being true should make him a fascinating target for an in depth documentary, chronicling his rise and the rise of Marvel Comics, along with the hardships faced along the way. Is this that documentary? Sort of.

With Great Power… The Stan Lee Story is a documentary directed by Terry Dougas, Nikki Frakes, and Will Hess. The writing duties were handled by Frakes and Hess. The documentary is entertaining enough, but it feels a bit like an overdone EPK. It takes us on an overview of Stan Lee’s career, touching on some of the big stuff, giving us some nice personal moments, mix in a lot of people singing the praises of Stan, and then roll credits.

Now, I am not saying this is a bad film, it is very watchable and it is nice to see Stan and his wife and the old video and radio footage is nice. The problem is that it doesn’t seem to know what it wants to be. It is serious one minute, comical the next, seems to skim over some of the important stuff about his career and the rise of Marvel, and so many of the interviews are of the soundbite type clips talking about how great Stan Lee is. Don’t get me wrong, Stan Lee deserves an enormous amount of praise. The heroes he created, wrote, produced, and shepherded to the masses is nothing short of amazing. I just wish this was a bit more in depth.

The best parts of this documentary was the personal stuff with Stan Lee, with him reminiscing on the past, even better were the moments with his wife. There was some very touching stuff there, made even more poignant since she just recently passed away. Those are balanced by clips of Paris Hilton saying Stan Lee is hot. Seriously? Why was that bit even included?

This disk reminds me of His Name was Jason: 30 Years of Friday the 13th. That was a 2009 documentary that gave a pretty decent overview of the series What we need now is the Stan Lee/Marvel Comics version of Crystal Lake Memories, the 7 hour in depth documentary. Or at least the equivalent.

If you are looking for a Stan Lee hype disk, this is the one for you. Again, I am not trying to sound down on this release, it just isn’t that much of an in depth experience. It certainly is worth watching, just don’t look for a lot of detail.

I think the biggest thing that hurts the watchability of this documentary is the fact that is a non-anamorphic release. Yes, you read that right. This is not in high definition and you can tell. Some of the footage and graphics look absolutely awful. On top of that, some of the archival footage is not in the right aspect ratio. I mean, it is clear they put a lot of effort into this film, but some things are hard to get around.

This is a two disk release, the second disk is loaded with cut and extended interviews and some other appearances that Lee has made. Still, some of those are cut, so they are not perfect, but still nice to have. This is good for those who don’t know much about Stan the Man, but if you want something complete, we are still waiting for that.

Mildly Recommended.

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