Posted: 18 Jul 2004
So...Spider-Man 2. Honestly, I didn't have high hopes going into this movie. Despite having blown through the recently-hatched Ultimate Spider-Man comic from Marvel with great voracity, I've never been a huge Spider-Man fan.
Oh, an aside -- check these Ultimate series out, especially if you're previously familiar with the subject matter. Marvel kicked it off with Ultimate Spider-Man, then started up Ultimate X-Men, The Ultimates (neé The Avengers), and, most recently, Ultimate Fantastic Four. Yes, the latter's name belies a little redundancy, but that's been pointed out. Regardless, the essence of each title is re-starting the hero(es) in question in the present day as teens (for the most part; The Ultimates doesn't entirely stick to the latter condition). The best part, to me, is seeing how they re-introduce all the characters -- villians and allies alike -- in new ways. The problem with that is that they tend to span 20 years' worth of story in 60 issues. They aren't entirely built to last. I don't know if Marvel's aware of this, but I trust them to do what's right. Anwyay, sorry for the aside. I plan to write separately about these Ultimate titles in the near future, Fates willing.
So, back to the movie!
I have three major problems with this movie. I'll address these first to get them out of the way.
Bear with me here while I retrace the steps. Dr. Otto Octavius is closest to Generic Industrial Accident, and the robotic arms he's wearing at the time are fused to his torso. Right? I can buy that. I've bought a lot of things throughout years of comic book and movie consumption. It was even explained in the film! What they don't explain, however, is where his super-strength comes from. Repeatedly through the movie he's smashed into such ordinary scenery as skyscrapers, pavement, and girders during his fights with our hero. I know the proximity of his arms affords him some protection, but seriously -- he takes way too much superhero damage to not have some sort of extra strength, which is never mentioned, explained, or even plausible. I cry foul.
Here's another one -- who the crap is this daughter of Parker's landlord, why do we care, and what purpose does she serve? I had two theories. The first, and more plausible, is to bring a little more light to Parker's bleak existence that is the majority of Spider-Man 2. The scene where she brings him cake is sweet and completely, totally awkward. I thought maybe they'd get romantically involved, or she'd get killed in a fight scene, or something. Anything. Instead, though, she served absolutely no purpose. The aforementioned scene was completely out-of-place and weird. My second theory was that she'd end up somehow being Gwen Stacy, but that obviously didn't happen, either. I just don't get it.
My last point is one many might disagree with, but I'm going to say it anyway. I flat-out do not like Kirsten Dunst. I've disliked her since Interview With the Vampire and it's just gone like that since. She was there for some fantastic films such as Bring it On, Drop Dead Gorgeous, Mona Lisa Smile, and this very movie. I just don't like her, though. That may be spurned by her portrayals of dislikable characters but, even that aside, I don't like her voice, her face, ehr mannerisms, all that. I've never been a fan and I never will. I have, though, been a fan of Mary-Jane Watson and I've been disappointed with the choice of her since the first Spider-Man movie. Except for that nipples-through-cashmere-in-the-rain scene. That was key. Other than that, though, I think MJ deserves a much better treatment. This, of course, is solely my opinion and I've yet to find it shared by anyone else. Of course, I can't think of a better known actress to have filled the role. There are plenty of girls I'd like to see in such a vehicle, but none would really do MJ justice.
Phew, OK, I got those off my chest. Now that I've said that, though, this was -- and make no mistake in what I say -- a fucking fantastic movie. I loved pretty much every minute of it. It surpassed X-Men 2 as far as comic book movies go (admittedly, it's hard seeing anything top the first Batman). As I said before, I had low expectations. Those low expectations were blown away.
Maguire's treatment of Peter Parker is spot-on in my opinion. I'd have to say that the funniest part of the movie came when Parker was surreptitiously sneaking out of the janitors' closet to deliver pizza, unknown to the fact he was being watched by the hot chick at the desk. His bumbling, his stumbling, his complete lack of awareness despite his spider sense defined the character right there and then. In addition, Alfred Molina's Doc Ock brought a new face to the character -- something I was really glad to see. As both Dr. Otto Octavius and as the evil/misguided Doc Ock, I felt he was pretty damn great. Raimi made a wise choice with using as much puppeteering as possible for the arms; they ended up looking fantastic.
In addition, the possibilities for the next movie(s) leave the viewer plenty of options. Lizard? The second Green Goblin? Venom? The foundation is all there. I've heard talk that Raimi "will never do a Venom movie," but I don't much see the point of introducing a NASA pilot by way of John Jameson, unless it's to tease fans that the Venom symbiote might be brought to Earth. I'm afraid that a Venom movie would CGI-suck a la The Hulk, but I suppose we'll have to wait and see. Here's the thing -- Raimi's optioned 6 movies. Personally, I'd like to see Lizard in the next one while setting up Harry as the second Green Goblin for the next one. That makes four movies. The fifth could be Venom, and god knows what else for the final one. Hell, they even left it open for a return of Doc Ock.
Wait and see, true believers.
God, I can't believe I just ended with that.