IMR: Extras: Reviews: Movies: Spiderman 2

[ Movies ]
Spiderman 2
[ Rating: 25_of_50_stars ]

Spiderman 2 is a good film, but it's a weak superhero flick.

I'm not a comic book fan, and so I admit I'm ignorant of the history and nuances of specific superheroes like Spiderman. I do know that Spiderman is among the more human of the lot, and since Spiderman 2 invests a lot of time in exploring the conflict between Peter Parker (Tobey Maguire) and his web-spinning alter-ego, I can see how Spiderman 2 might be one of that rare breed of sequels that are superior to the original.

But I still can't help feeling a bit disappointed when I take in a flick with "Spiderman" in the title, and get a moody, character-driven romance-slash-drama.

True, there are explosions and fights and expensive special effects. But the fact that those things were not the star of the show is a good thing — they weren't up to the task, anyway. As for the stars themselves? They seemed to be trying really hard to make a play for an Oscar despite being trapped in a popcorn flick.

Don't get me wrong, there's a lot of depth to Peter's character, and that of Harry Osborn (Peter's friend and son of the Green Goblin ), and there may even a little bit of meat in mentor-turned-nemesis Dr. Otto Octavius' story. All in all, there are lots of internal conflicts, complex motivations, strengths and weaknesses at play here. But instead of skillfully hinting at this depth, the players were apparently told to pound the living daylights out of their roles. The melodrama is, at times, simply embarassing.

Why didn't someone sit down with Alfred Molina (Chocolat, Identity) and remind him, "You're a mad scientist with mutant robot arms, not Macbeth."

Director Sam Raimi (A Simple Plan, The Quick and the Dead) has the talent to tell a serious story, no doubt, but he didn't need to turn both barrels on Superman 2. When Peter Parker's aunt May (Rosemary Harris) launches into an overwrought soliloquy about heroes, I half expected an American flag to drift through the frame as an eagle passed overhead.

Peter Parker's dysfunctional love life is a central theme in Spiderman 2. But his love interest, Mary Jane Watson, is so vapid and unappealing, you're left wondering why he's so obsessed with her. (This flick, at least, adds to Kirsten Dunst's impressive list of movies in which she gets wet, half naked, or both.) Meanwhile, Peter is also given ample opportunities to prove himself weak and unreliable, and you also wonder why Mary puts up with it for so long.

We also see that Peter Parker's long hours spent saving the city are hurting him physically, emotionally, and academically, but in emphasizing the downsides, we're left with little to explain why he's compelled to be Spiderman in the first place. Being a superhero doesn't seem to be much more compelling or interesting than being a mailman.

Of course, that's the point, and soon enough, Peter Parker tries to give up the spidey suit. It is here that the real appeal and emotion of the story comes through. He sees a wrong being committed, and turns his back. He tries to do good, but it isn't good enough. He realizes he can't win, and just in case we don't get it, we're treated to an ethereal recitation of that famous line, "With great power comes great responsibility."

Somehow, thankfully, Raimi and Maguire play it right here. Unfortunately, these scenes have to be bookended with cheesy dialogue and effects, and a surprisingly weak climax where Spiderman doesn't really save the day at all, and where the romantic resolution seems so forced, you can almost hear the test audience scribbling away on their clipboards.

I also wonder if there was more to Peter's brief flirtation with his landlord's daughter, Ursula (Mageina Tovah, who was actually born in Hawaii). As a faint light that appears when Peter's world is at its darkest, she carried a lot of potential that seems to have been left on the editing room floor.

Like Spiderman, the movie Spiderman 2 is trapped between two identities. Superhero flash versus everyman drama. One or the other may have worked better than trying to have it both ways.


I would like to make a note in regards to your critic of this film. Although you are right in the sense that the film had a dual message(Superhero identity crisis and human romance/drama)- I would like to point out that the director was attempting to please three different audiences with this film. The non-comic book fan,the spiderman fanatics and children of all ages. A feat not easily done in today's Hollywood movie scene.

As a father of three, I am sure that your children may have watched the movie and enjoyed it. They knew nothing of the plot nor did they care anything for the human interaction that was attached to the story. To them it was good versus evil - with good triumphing over evil. (Hence the cheesy dialogue)

You on the other hand saw the movie with a different perspective. You were the non-comic book fan audience. Which is why perhaps you have a mixed opinion in regards to the movie.

Let me shed a little light for you. The "moody, character-driven romance-slash-drama" is a basic theme for the webslinger's comic book character. I mean think about it. Peter Parker became Spiderman not because he wanted to but because he was filled with guilt regarding his uncle's death. ("With great power comes great responsibility" or "I can't live your dream anymore Uncle Ben....")This is why the director and script writers had to incorporate it in the movie. Otherwise, the movie would not have had the impact on you or the appeal to the comic book fans.

I'll admit, the movie still left unanswered questions and undeveloped characters. However, I feel that they may actually be trying to setup a plot for a trilogy. Which again will be filled with this drama duality that is a part of the spiderman character.

--Just food for thought.

Cal Edwards (February 21, 2006 1:24 AM)

what is wrong with you man spiderman is the best no movie is better all the others superheroes too fake but his story is most likely to be real but others superheroes are too fake suck and kid stuff forreal. spiderman 6the best

dubile (June 19, 2006 5:56 AM)

E kala mai! Comments have been disabled due to overwhelming abuse by spammers. Please click through to any of the video hosting services linked above to leave a public response, or feel free to send an e-mail. Mahalo!

© 1997-2008 Ryan Kawailani Ozawa · E-Mail: [ PGP ] · Created: 09 February 2005 · Last Modified: 14 January 2008