Spider-Man 2


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"The effects are really good.  Swinging from webs, jumping around, crawling up walls -- it looks great.  It's hard to say that it looks realistic, because it looks better than realistic.  It's a wonderful blend of realism and comic book movements."




Spider-Man 2
The Masked Reviewer

Who does whatever a spider-can?  Who spins a web, any size?  Who catches thieves, just like flies?  Who would you be happy to see if you were being mugged in Manhattan?  Who would you be likely to hit with a rolled up newspaper if you saw him climbing up the inside of your bathtub?

It's Spider-Man!  He probably has a lot of trouble with his restaurant reservations. 

"Hi, I have a reservation for 8 o'clock.  The name is Spider-Man."

"Hmmm...I have a 'Spiederman' listed."

"They probably wrote it down wrong.  S-p-i..."

"You don't look Jewish."

In any event, the long awaited sequel to the long awaited 2002 movie Spider-Man has arrived. 

The Masked Reviewer will uncharacteristically cut to the chase.  Did you like Spider-Man?  If you did, you'll enjoy the sequel.  Do you love the Spidey comic books?  If so, then you probably saw Spider-Man, and you probably liked it (other than some departures from the original story) and you'll probably like the sequel.

See, Spider-Man 2 takes place a few years after the events of Spider-Man.  The problem is, that most of the events in 2 are the same events as the original.  There are a few new issues, but the new issues are kind of hackneyed in the comic-book movie.  The old issues make it feel like you're watching a soap opera, at times. 

If you somehow missed Spider-Man (they should've done some advertising, for Pete's sake (Peter Parker, that is)), you might feel a bit lost.  They do a nice opening montage during the credits that features images from the first film recreated in the style of comic-book art.  Between that and refreshing people's memory ("hey, guy from the first movie, I haven't' seen you since you did that thing that was an important plot point!") most people will be able to follow what happens.

In general, though, the biggest problem with Spider-Man 2 is the script.  The writing isn't good.  It has a few good laughs (mostly in the form of seeing Spider-Man deal with the problems normal people face every day), but there's much too much emphasis on character.  What?  The Masked Reviewer is criticizing a film for having too much character development?  Well, it's not actually all that much character development, it's more like drawn-out situations which everyone knows the outcome of.  Between the action scenes, there's a lot of talking heads.  Feelings.  Concerns.  Problems.  Very human stuff.  A little of that would have gone a long way, but they spend an inordinate amount of time on it.

The movie is over two hours long.  That's long for a super-hero movie.  Now, if there'd been more action, it would have been more bearable, but there are only a small handful of action scenes.  During these long pensive moments, you may find yourself checking your watch, and that's not a good sign.

Sam Raimi is again the director and he did a fine job, given the material he had to work with.  It would have been nice, as previously mentioned, if he would've edited down some of the long talking scenes, but hey, audiences will get their 10 bucks' worth.

Let's now talk about the important stuff...the effects.  The Masked Reviewer saw Spider-Man a few times (once in the theater and several times on DVD/cable).  The Masked Reviewer wasn't impressed.  The story was fine, it had some laughs, and other than a few departures from the comic-book, it was a fine adaptation.  But, the highly-touted effects were greatly overrated.  Did anyone who watched that film not notice when it went back and forth between a live actor and a computer generated character?  The CG character was entirely unconvincing and didn't match the human movements.  It moved unnaturally -- even for a superhero.

This time around, the Masked Reviewer was expecting less but got much more.  The effects are really good.  Swinging from webs, jumping around, crawling up walls -- it looks great.  It's hard to say that it looks realistic, because it looks better than realistic.  It's a wonderful blend of realism and comic book movements.  In the first film, the computer generated character would wind up in poses you'd see in the comics, but it didn't look like anything.  In Spider-Man 2, the motions are fluid and very Marvelicious.  They've managed to capture that great sense of energy and excitement of the comic books, without looking like a computer game (not that there's anything wrong with that, if you're a computer game).

The acting is very similar to the first movie.  Tobey Maguire is fine, Kirsten Dunst is adequate.  Kirsten Dunst's Mary Jane Watson isn't much to work with...she's a prop.  Even though she's supposed to be having some of the same difficulties in love that Peter Parker has, it's always just a reaction to what happens.  It's not Kirsten Dunst's fault, though.  J.K. Simmons is back as J. Jonah Jameson and he's even better this time around...he's the comedic highlight of the film, and perfectly captures that character.  Alfred Molina plays Doctor Octopus, and he's fine...they put a lot of effort into creating a noble scientist that is blinded in his pursuit of his creation, but is deep down a good guy.  Sound familiar?  It's the same bad-guy scenario as Spider-Man.  Nonetheless, Alfred Molina makes a fine evil-doer.  We also get to see most of the original cast, to varying degrees.  They're all fine.

Kirsten Dunst does have some ugly hands, though.  In one scene, she touches Peter Parker's face.  She sure is cute...until you see her gnarled witch-hands rubbing Tobey Maguire's face.  Yikes!  Stubby, rough fingers.  What, does she cut up tuna for a living?  Give her some gloves!

Here's another minor criticism...it won't give anything away.  At one point a character grabs a dagger off a table.  The dagger is in a sheath when it's snatched from it's stand.  When the dagger is snatched, you hear the distinctive "schwiiiing!" sound of a dagger being un-sheathed.  But, it wasn't un-sheathed, it was simply un-display-standed.  That "schwiiiing!" sound is clearly the sound of a blade coming out of its sheath.  But the sheath was still on!  Where did they get the sound effects guys?  The Masked Reviewer was wondering whether they bought one of those sound effects CDs and just wanted to use them all since they paid for them.  That would explain all those "awoooooga!"s and "boinkity boinkity boink"s.  A moment later, the dagger was unsheathed, and it schwiiiiinged appropriately. 

By the way, the sound is fabulous in the movie, too.  One scene, in particular, features really loud rumbling bass and crystal clear higher-end effects that will make the hair on your neck stand up.  By the way, as a courtesy to other theater-goers, please shave your neck hair before seeing this film.

The Masked Reviewer's last point is one that hits close to home.  If you've got a secret identity, KEEP IT A SECRET.  Count how many times Peter Parker reveals to someone that he's Spider-Man in this movie.  A mask isn't a hat that you remove every time you enter a building or see a pretty lady.  Half of New York saw his face in this movie.  "Hi, I'm Spider-Man.  I must hide my identity so that I can protect the people who are close to me.  Oh wait, is my mask on?"  Geez.  Clark Kent's got a better disguise.  It's not fooling anyone, but at least he tries by putting on those glasses.

There are some other small issues, but the Masked Reviewer doesn't want to give away any plot points.  The bottom line is if you liked the first, you'll very likely enjoy the second.  Everything is better, except for the writing...resulting in a slow middle section.  It drags a bit, but the action is better and everything is more interesting.


Expectation from the Title: It's hard to say, but it might be about the rematch of a guy against a creepy-crawly-itsy-bitsy-bug that went in the water spout.

Mother's Rule (Always Say Something Good About Everything):  Peter Parker is a very nice and responsible young man.

The Pros: They've fixed the animation to look truly awesome; some very funny moments.

The Cons: Long, slow talky sections tend to drag; two-hour run time is too short on action.


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