Saturday, November 1, 2008

Spider-Man 2 (6.30.2004)

Director: Sam Raimi Starring: Tobey Maguire, Kirsten Dunst, James Franco, Alfred Molina  Co-Starring:  Rosemay Harris, J.K. Simmons  Watch for: Stan Lee. Ted Raimi and the news room team, at it again. Editor(s): Bob Murawski  <-- The version I own.

Some have said, since the release, that this is the best superhero movie ever. Before The Dark Knight, it's probably true that most people agreed on it. I'd like to think that such a thing is measurable, but I'm a hardcore comic fan, so I tend to separate the genre into sub-genres. 

What Sam Raimi has done with Spider-Man and comic movies is sort of what Marvel did with comics back in the day... he made it about a dramatic story for the 'secret identity', and the superhero, at times, is almost the second thought. I think this is a good way to do it though, since if you decide you want to do the superhero action first and the story second, you wind up with stories that are similar, and possibly even uninteresting. (Having multiple villains that you methodically take out one by one is a theme I've noticed in the less-popular Marvel productions, such as Elektra, Ghost Rider and The Invincible Iron Man animated feature. Having some of them be 'elementals', which you must use your powers differently in order to "figure out how to win" is even worse). 

Honestly though, Spider-Man keeps it simple. The plot is interesting, something we can relate to more than flying through the sky whilst being a successful journalist. Parker works multiple jobs, (tries to) attend school, and still struggles to make rent. He has the classic 'in love with a girl, but doesn't want to endanger her' thing going on, which they actually dragged on through a couple of films rather than other hero flicks that have the couple together by the end, along with Spider-Man's credo of great power and great responsibility. It is in this film that Parker ultimately realizes that yes, he is Spider-Man, however he is still a man who has limits. If he's stretching himself so thin that he cannot keep his life, regular, hero or otherwise, together, than he's really no good to anyone. 

Luckily, we have the wonderful Mary Jane Watson who finally shows up "standing in his doorway", and essentially bops him on the head saying "It's okay to have to rely on others". He still doesn't quite get this on the Spidey side of things until the next film, but that's another story for later.

Y'know, of the whole film, I think Mary Jane's little speech at the end is the part that bugs me a little bit. Well, not the whole speech. Mostly "I've always been standing in your doorway". 

No, MJ. You really haven't. I took "Here I am, standing in your doorway" to mean something like "I've come for you", "I'm here for you", "Ready to be with you". Most of the film, she spends her time complaining about how Peter is never there for her, never once concerning herself with his problems. Hey, red, maybe there's a really good reason he keeps missing your shows and standing you up. He always calls to apologize, doesn't he? Perhaps there's a little more here than a scatter-brained work-a-holic, eh?

No, no. That's not it. He's just a "great big jerk".


Another thing Spider-Man 2 has working for it is the ever-awesome Dr. Octavius. I was quite happy when J. Jonah finally brought up the question "A man named Octavius winds up with 8 limbs. What're the odds?"

In the Marvel Universe? Quite good. *cough, Jubilation Lee, Johnny Blaze and Mar-Vell come to mind.  At any rate, I think Doc Ock is one of the most cinematic villains we've had in any of the comic films that have come out. It was quite a change from the neon Goblin of the first film, probably due to complaints on the changes (he could've still work a purple tunic, or something over all that green. I mean, why not?) Ock tended to wear a green jumpsuit as well, so the change is understandable. Having him hiding out, a big coat (that somehow even hides his tentacles in the bank robbery scene, not sure how he go those to fit in there), seems the most functional for someone in his physilogical predicament. Plus, Alfred Molina just rocks as Ock. It was a little odd to me when he was happy and charming to begin with, but then again these are things I've never really seen from Ock in the comics. Once he becomes Dr. Octopus, from there on out he was, more or less, perfect.

Then there's what they do with him for us comic nerds. Fighting on a building (twice!), fighting on and on the side of a train, along with a couple of good ol' brawls. The fights were amazing, and still stand up as one of the best hero/villain fights, like, ever. Forget Superman, all he did was lift stuff. Spidey has to work for it.

I suppose that's what people like about Spider-Man. He's one of us, just caught in an extraordinary situation. He's not an alien-turned-reporter, who has it extremely easy, except for when a certain green rock is around. Every time Spider-Man is in a fight, he has to do something amazing to win. He can't walk up to a guy shooting at him and stare him down, he has to dodge bullets and take away the weapon first. This is why I like Spider-Man, and Marvel in general I think. 


There's really not much to say about this movie. I loved it, it is certainly the strongest in the Spider-Man series thus far, and arguably the best Marvel has come out with so far. I can't sit down and watch it too often however, because with all of the story for the characters between the superhero action, it does feel like a long movie after repeated viewings. It's different for the first screening, since you don't know what happens next and you're excited to find out, but any good director will tell you that a good film is only meant to be seen once.

The home video market has sort of drowned out that mindset, and the editor in me loves to watch good things multiple times, but I still try to keep that in mind whenver I watch something again and catch onto something that bugs me the next time around.

There aren't many for Spider-Man 2 though, let me assure you of that.

Oh, and for the record, the cover-art for the DVD, which was one of the theatrical posters, is probably my favorite for Marvel thus far. Actually, that's kind of sad to think about, since Spider-Man 3 had my least favorite.

Iron Man had a pretty good one too, but we're not talking about him just yet.