Monday, July 05, 2004

Spider-man 2

The choice of Independence Day cinematic celebration was Spider-Man 2 by the ever-talented Sam Raimi. It was a fine one.

There's lots of opinion out there regarding this movie, so mine adds little. Oddly, though, I feel kind of on the middle on this one. I think almost everything the first movie did well, this one did even better, but everything that was a weakness in the first one was even weaker this time out. The biggest exception to this rule was the chemistry between Tobey Maguire and Kirsten Dunst that absolutely lit up the screen in the first movie, but was utterly non-existent this time out.

James Franco seems even worse casting as Harry Osborne. I don't believe him as a spoiled rich kid. I don't believe him as Petey's friend. I just don't believe him.

Tobey Maguire, on the other hand, seems to be doing triple duty. Much better even than his already spot-on performance in the original. He's a very convincing and three dimensional Peter Parker, and he also has a scene - the train - which I think may have been the most effective scene of superheroics I've ever seen in a live action film.

The look of the movie is stunning. Clearly Raimi managed to use his clout well, because this looks like a Sam Raimi movie in the best sense. People keep pointing to Evil Dead 2, but I think the more accurate comparison would be to Raimi's underappreciated superhero epic, Darkman. Either way, the visuals are wonderful.

Alfred Molina does a great job with what he was given, which was... not bad, just not enough. Not even close. It was a fascinating character that gave much opportunity for richness and development, and Molina was game for it all. It just wasn't quite in the script... or too much made it to the cutting room floor. I'm not sure.

Hopefully, they're comfortable with how well they've covered Petey's struggle with his newfound "great responsibility", though. I thought it worked fine in this one, but it was stretched to its limit. Little reminders in the future, but two plotlines is all you get.

I'm also not looking forward to the plot of the next one hinted by the ending. I hope we get at least one more new storyline before hitting going all the way into that mess.

And, by the way, I do congratulate Raimi and the writers for not having succumb to the temptation to team up villains in these. I think the weakest element of the Batman sequels has been trying to show these characters collaborating in some compelling and semi-plausible manner. However...

... Stan Lee and Steve Ditko certainly threw gave Spidey some goofy villains in his early days, The Lizard (played in his pre-reptilian incarnation by Dylan Baker in Spider-Man 2), The Vulture, etc. I'm not sure how many people outside the hardcore of Silver Age Spidey Fans, a group that would include me, would race to see a movie with one of these guys facing off as the main enemy.

I do think that a good ten to fifteen minute James Bond style opening with one of the sillier villains could be perfect for a future movie. It would thrill the SASF and could definitely bring some good opportunities to expand on the humor that makes Spider-Man comics so great and is so underused - although well-done when used - in the two films to date.

Anyone official is welcome - encouraged even - to steal that from me, assuming someone else hasn't already thrown it out, in which case, they're encouraged to take that person's advice as well... or instead.

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