Archive for the ‘Comics’ Category

Review: Spider-Man 2

Saturday, July 3rd, 2004

Current Listening: REM – “Drive” (Automatic For the People)

Smack, crack, bushwhacked. / Tie another one to the racks, baby. / Hey kids, rock and roll. / Nobody tells you where to go, baby. / What if I ride? What if you walk? / What if you rock around the clock?

The Good: More humor, more conflict, and Aunt May has a bigger role, too.

The Bad: Do you love me? Waaah. Sob. Sob. Kiss. Waaah.

The Ugly: Stan Lee’s cameo was barely recognizable — “Watch out!”

I’ve got a soft place in my heart for Spidey. While not professing to be an extreme fan, I have about sixty comic books, a few of them bought at comic book stores and maybe worth a little bit. So I couldn’t understand when some of my friends, including my girlfriend, said they didn’t really like the first movie. I chalked it up to naïvety — how could they know the greatest superhero in the world?

Then it occured to me that they didn’t have the comic books. They didn’t know about Spidey’s inner struggle. They couldn’t see that his world was as much the world of jobs, homework, and trouble with friends as it was the world of web-slinging.

Well now they can. Call me brash, but Spider-Man 2 makes the original Spider-Man flick look like Batman Forever. It’s bigger, swetter, more dramatic, and the villain is cooler.

That villain would be Otto Octavius, also known as Doctor Octopus. For those who say that a superhero is defined by his villains, Doc Ock is the perfect example. Alfred Molina does a great job playing the altruistic scientist-turned-raging-madman. In this Spider-Man universe (as opposed to the comic books), the arms take over the scientist, turning him into a bystander-killing, Spidey-hating machine. You can still see the struggle in his eyes, though, and at the end we see that Octopus is just as tortured as our favorite webslinger.

Spidey, by the way, has plenty to fret about. He’s losing jobs, his grades are slipping, and Mary Jane, though still interested, is moving on the bigger and better things — namely, J. Jonah Jameson’s astronaut son. A temporary loss of his power — and subsequent tumble from twenty stories up — convinces the webslinger to retire the webs. And thus we are exposed to the internal conflict of the movie — how much should a hero give up for the good of mankind?

But no hero can call it quits for good, can he?

This installment was much truer to the comic books than its predecessor. It even managed to capture the teenage angst of the early Spidey books. My only problem with this angst is that some of it was unnecessary. For example, Peter Parker has a money-hungry landlord with a teenage daughter who obviously has a thing for Pete. One scene, in which he eats chocolate cake with her after hanging up his webs, was extraneous baggage.

Sam Raimi did a great job directing, and even managed to throw in some of his trademarks — namely, Bruce Campbell and a scene with Doc Ock’s living metallic arms that could have been straight out of Evil Dead. Raimi always manages to make humor and action work well together, and this film was no exception. Laughs came during the height of the action and were intersperced with the drama, lightening what otherwise might have been a heavy-handed movie. I wish Spidey had some acidic one-liners for Doc Ock and the other criminals he battles (a comic book trademark), though.

My only other quibble with the film was its ending. I don’t want to give it away, so let’s just say that it had some closure (yet we all know there will be at least two more sequels), but also left us hanging and me worried that the next villain would be Harry Osbourne as the Green Goblin. Sure, the comic book fans might like that, but moviegoers would have to sit through another movie of the Green Goblin’s crappy costume.

And I’d like to see Spidey fly off the handle at some villain and really wail on him. You know? He got some punches thrown at Doc Ock, but I wanna see Spidey kick the crap outta somebody. The villains get to do it to him, but turnabout is fair play, right?