Review: Spiderman 2

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t occured to me that part of my last entry was obscure. Sorry. Family issues can sometimes be too complicated to put into words, and I’ll leave it at that. Things are up in the air for the moment, but if and when they settle down, I’ll probably write about it. But for now, the issue at hand is Spiderman 2. If you haven’t seen it and don’t want your experience to be tainted by my opinion… see ya later, alligator…

The original Spiderman was awesome. I was a Marvel freak for many years. My favorites included Thor, Iron Man, Conan the Barbarian (especially the black and white editions), the Avengers which included the Vision. The comics I did not buy seem to be the ones that became movies, such as the Hulk (too ugly), Daredevil (too 50s) and the X-Men (just too much). I was never a fan of the Fantastic Four. I think maybe because of the names. Mr. Fantastic? The Thing? Ugh. But my favorite comic book was Spiderman. And, in its heyday, there were a couple of Spiderman storylines in different titles: The Amazing Spiderman, and Peter Parker The Spectacular Spiderman. I think there was one more but the title escapes at the moment.

As all of you Spidey freaks know, Peter Parker was a science whiz and his actual spider skills were limited to super strenghth disproportionate to his size, his spider sense (which isn’t really animal intuition, but uber-heightened sensory perception) and the ability to scale walls. He created his own webbing and it was ejected from cartridges through his “web shooter” attached to his wrist. I’m not sure why they felt the need to make Peter mutate to the point of developing glands that secrete this webbing. But I guess it was okay. I didn’t really mind this part of the first film. But when he lost this ability in the second film, I kinda rolled my eyes. Is Parker’s spider abilities psychosomatic? Okay, maybe his glands won’t secrete webbing, but what about his eyesight? Can a person lose the ability to focus all of a sudden? Oh right, Parker’s not a person, he’s a mutant. I know Parker had issues about being Spiderman, and this is a great part of his character, but I don’t think this had to be manifested through physical traits. They should have focused more on the matters that really made Spiderman click. His decisions and the results of those decisions…

Which brings us to the issue of the anxiety he feels of being unappreciated and unable to reveal his identity. Parker’s first love was Gwen Stacey, daughter of the police chief. She died in a scene similar to the climax of the first film: Spider had to choose between saving kids and saving Gwen. He tried to save both as in the movie, but in the comic Gwen dies. I gotta tell ya, that scene in the comic, the agony of making such a decision and having it turn out badly is why Spiderman was so popular: the flawed hero is so 70s! Gwen’s death solidified Spider-man’s role as villain in the Daily Bugle newpaper, and always raised doubts in the hearts of the people of New York, as well as his fellow super-heroes–even Superman, a DC character from Gotham (*ack, gag*), didn’t trust Spidey beause of what he read. All the doubts and accusations made frustrated him to no end in the comic–and who among us don’t feel underappreciated time to time. But more importantly, in Peter Parker’s mind, his identity was directly responsible for her death and this becomes the overarching reason why he could never reveal it to anyone. In the movie, he says that his enemies will endanger the ones he loves. But it was not Mary Jane’s or Aunt May’s near death, it was Gwen’s actual death. And this tragedy makes it virtually impossible for him to reveal his identity, which is why I was disappointed that he revealed himself to Mary Jane in the movie realtively easily. In the comic book, it took YEARS for him to finally do it. Mary Jane and Peter even have sex and date before he reveals himself. At the very least, they should have left it as the last scene of the last part of this soon-to-be trilogy.

And yet, while it may sound like I’m trashing Spiderman 2, I must admit I liked it. The action and CG was great. The way he swings through the air or the way he positions himself on a crane is exactly the way he did it in the comic. It just amazed me at how real they made the comic book action feel. I swear I love Spiderman comics and have all those poses etched in my mind. To a lesser degree, the general angst that Peter Parker suffers from was presented adequately. He does like Mary Jane–and she does call Parker “Tiger” in the comic book–and he wants to get to know her better but simply cannot reveal himself to her. This was not a bad movie. It simply did not live up to ALL the nitpicking standards of this Spidey fan… ***1/2 stars (out of 5)

Afterthought: I thought the casting was pretty good. Toby Maguire was a good choice. The supporting roles were perfect. Rosemary Harris as Aunt May was just right. And Jon Simmons was an inspired choice for J. Jonah Jameson, editor of the Daily Bugle. I have to admit that it took me a while to realize that he was the same as Dr. Skoda in “Law and Order.” But I wish they had found someone else for Mary Jane. In the comic book, Gwen was very feminine, and Mary Jane was supposed to be her antithesis. She was tom-boyish with a lot of spunk. Kirsten Dunst is cute, but she doesn’t strike me as the spunky type. Any suggestions?

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