Spiderman 2

Okay, I know I’m a little late on this one, but I wanted to make sure Spiderman 2 made $350 million or so before going to see it myself. To be honest, there were so many other movies playing here in Atlanta, it just got lost in the shuffle. I’m not going to write up a full review of the film (I’m probably one of the last people in the US to actually see it, but for anyone who hasn’t, spoilers follow), but it was quite interesting for a superhero film. I do have a few questions for readers who have seen the film and/or have read the comic book series.

I’d always found Spiderman/Peter Parker’s seclusion to be a bit selfish in a way, and the decision to have Peter reveal himself (intentionally or not) to Mary Jane was an interesting plot move. There is something chauvenistic about Peter not allowing MJ to decide what level of risk she’s willing to take to be involved with him, altough the basic superhero rescues damsel in distress model seemed to persist. I’m not a regular reader of the Spiderman comic books (my parents quietly steered me away from superhero comics when I was young, so I never picked up the habit), but the plot move allowing MJ to choose Peter strikes me as a fairly serious departure from the comic book storylines. To what extent is that true? What did other people think of that particular plot choice or of the film in general?

BTW, it was very cool to see one of my favorite character actors, Bill Nunn (Radio Raheem from Do the Right Thing), in a minor role as a newspaper reporter.

Update: I forgot to mention two or three shots from the film that I found particularly interesting. The first shot I mention below (in the comments) was a freeze frame during the sequence in which Peter Parker briefly gives up his “responsibility” as a superhero. The freeze didn’t seem to fit the context, but for some reason I just found it an interesting disruptive moment.

The other shot sequence I liked: the “POV” shots from Doc Ock’s tentacles, where the screen is divided into four “simultaneous” quadrants a la Mike Figgis’s Time Code. The fragmented, almost crystalline, vision simply struck me as very cool, a nice disruption of “normal” cinematic vision.

7 Comments »

  1. Cassie Said,

    August 8, 2004 @ 7:55 pm

    I enjoyed watching MJ assert her right to choose, as both a woman and a superpower-challenged individual ;). I also very much enjoyed the crisis-of-faith theme; the interplay of duty and responsibility, the balance of personal needs and being answerable to society… uh, I had an end to that sentence but then the cat jumped in my lap. Whoops.

    I’m not an avid superhero comic reader (I don’t think _Promethea_ really counts, however good it is), but I was always fond of Spider-Man as a kid (along with Batman). Perhaps these two seem more human and less iconic than Superman (who, after all, isn’t human). I enjoy watching the struggle of humanity despite super-powers (or a reasonable approximation thereof, in Batman’s case) much more than I enjoy gratuitous superpower use.

    I’m not sure how relevant this is to your question, but White Wolf’s RPG Exalted also deals with this sort of theme.

  2. chuck Said,

    August 8, 2004 @ 8:52 pm

    Leaving the office soon (and leaving precious internet connection for the night), but just wanted to add that Peter’s crisis-of-faith was also well done. The film seemed to lag a little at that point, but in general, it’s an interesting emotional crisis narrative.

    I’m trying to remember a very specific shot from the film right now, and I think it’s during this “crisis” sequence when Peter first rejects superhero-ing (is that a verb?). During this montage, cheery music is playing, and the montage ends in a freeze frame, which struck me as terribly strange and gratuitous (and I don’t mean that as a complaint). Does anyone happen to remember teh precise moment of this freeze frame? For whatever reason, I found that shot selection very interesting and wanted to work through its significance more carefully.

    I’m not familiar with the RPG you mention, but I feel like I should learn more about RPGs/gaming narratives more generally (especially given the ways in which “choice” seems so crucial to many gaming narratives). And when a cat disrupts a thought, there must be a *very* good reason.;)

  3. Cassie Said,

    August 9, 2004 @ 12:53 am

    If you want a Guide to the Strange World of Gaming, I’ll be happy to offer services; I’m a gaming nerd of almost a decade now and know a few more folks whose brains I can pick on all sorts of stuff I don’t know.

  4. Jason Said,

    August 9, 2004 @ 10:31 am

    The music, I believe, was “Rain Drops are Falling on My Head.” Peter had rejected his costume and moved on. The sequence was self-conscious and amusing (starting with the song and Peter tripping on the sidewalk in mid-stride) and towards the end of the song he does some sort of hair-swipe thing (I think?), and you get this frozen “Mentos” moment. Is that the one you’re thinking of?

    Re: MJ/Choice/etc. Here’s the thing: in the original comic series, PP’s first love was not MJ, but Gwen Stacy, who was abducted by the Green Goblin and taken to the top of a bridge (similar to MJ’s abduction in the first movie). In the comic, the GG tossed Gwen off the bridge tower; Spiderman dove and caught her. Gwen, however, died from the shock of the fall.

    With that (comic book, but written out of the movie) background, coupled with his uncle’s death, I think PP’s reluctance to involve MJ in his life is somewhat more understandable, though I agree overall that after a while it’s a little silly (and I think played a bit too hard in the script for Hollywood love-effect).

    As far as how close MJ choosing PP is to the comic … I don’t remember. I *think* she was pretty assertive about it in the comic, but the films so far have not felt bound to the Spectacular or Amazing storylines exclusively. Witness #1: organic web spinners (my one gripe about the films, which I otherwise love).

    I think that in some respects the film seems to more closely following the more recent “updated” version in the Ultimate Spiderman series, with excellent writing by Brian Michael Bendis (who also does Powers, Alias, and some Daredevil, among many others).

  5. chuck Said,

    August 9, 2004 @ 1:04 pm

    Jason, just off the top of my head, you’re right, it was “Raindrops,” which is (however distantly and ironically) a reference to the use of the same song in “Butch Cassidy and the Sundance Kid.”

    Interesting distinctions between movie and comic, especially regarding Gwen. The love story was overplayed a bit in the film, I’d agree. Also makes sense that some of the “updated” Spiderman comics might play the love story differently.

    Cassie, I may take you up on gaming knowledge at some point once my life settles down a bit.

  6. Cassie Said,

    August 9, 2004 @ 3:03 pm

    Sure, I’ll be around. If my email’s not attached to this comment (I enter it, but there seems to be no way for the public to access it and I’m not sure if you can) it’s iliadawry at gmail dot com.

  7. chuck Said,

    August 9, 2004 @ 4:11 pm

    Thanks, Cassie. The email address shows up on the page where I compose entries. I think Moveable Type “hides” emails to make it tougher for spammers to harvest them (but I could be wrong).

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