Film

Spider-Man 2

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Posted by Sulkyblue (18th Jul 2004, 15:40)

I labelled the first film "a good (maybe even great) summer blockbuster, but not a lot else", and the 2nd one is much the same. At it's core there's a good film here with an interesting plot and character development, some great action sequences and some nice comedy. However surrounding this film are some very poor choices with pacing, characters, plot and scripting. Many of these were concentrated in the last 15 minutes or so, meaning that I left the cinema disappointed and frustrated.

Spoilers Ahead!

Good Things
Dr Octopus was absolutely superb! The acting, character development, stunts, choreography and effects all worked beautifully well together. The extra arms were treated both as individual characters and as part of a whole integrated better than anything I've seen before. The action scenes were exciting and different. The fight choreographer made excellent uses of the special abilities of the characters and the resources available.
There are some genuinely funny moments and lines, many of them in the newspaper offices. Tobey Maguire also shows some excellent comic timing.
The character development is mostly pretty good, with particular credit to James Franco as Harry Osbourne stepping into his fathers shoes and making a clear distinction of his public and private personas. Mary Jane has more backbone, which is a good thing and Peter's choices and feelings are all credible.
The opening credits were very nicely done with the artwork representing noted scenes from the first film to remind you of what happened.
Hey look it's Daniel Dae Kim! He's rapidly turning into one of those people who appear in *everything*.

Bad Things
Science - oh for the love of all that's holy why do they make such stupid mistakes?! I don't mind overlooking scientific facts for the sake of simple plots (although I'd obviously rather they didn't) but why not hire and/or listen to a scientific advisor for certain things like what a university physics question should be? Eigenvalues don't have frigging units, that's why they're called VALUES! I know it's a small thing, but it would be so easy to avoid pissing off scientists watching the film.
Charcters, I know I mentioned the character development as good above, but some of it sucked. Why exactly does Peter/Spider-Man have so little backbone? How about when MJ is whining about him not making it to her show he actually point out that he's trying to put himself through college, living in a hole, worrying about his aunt and working 2 jobs at a time? He doesn't have to be Spider-Man to have responsibilities that it would be nice if his friends cared about. Throughout the entire film MJ was only ever concerned for herself, never seeming to think much about other people's feelings, just what she wants at any given time.
Harry's vision of his father made no sense. He was sat there re-evaluating what he knew about his father's death and Peter/Spider-Man, when the angry thoguhts seem to suddenly come out of nowhere. The technique of using the character in the mirror as an inner voice worked well in the first film because there was a chemical inducement of the split personality, but this one came out of nowhere to clumsily re-ignite his anger.
Credit your audience with some intelligence. We do not have to have everything spelled out to us in long, drawn out, frankly boring speeches. Particularly from dead characters surrounded by bright white light. Peter saying to himself "I don't want the responsibility, or the power anymore" would have done quite nicely. Likewise Aunt May's speech (which I mostly tuned out) about heroes could have been brought down to "The kid wants to be Spider-Man when he grows up, he's his hero. If that encourages the kid to find that part of himself that's in all of us to be a hero, then Spider-Man has done his job" or something like that. No need to send the audience to sleep or bludgeon us with American post 9/11 values (and my how I hate to use that phrase). The scene with the people in the train was a much more effective and moving than any of these speechs (even if I did desperately want to stand up and shout God Bless America in a patronising fashion).
We get it, Spider-Man stressed -> a lack of performance from his web shooters. Bad metaphore aside, there's no real need to have him plumit to the ground 3 (?) times.
The story ended... then kept going for another 15 minutes. Yes, I know they had to wrap up character stories (or set them up for the sequel) but that could have been done much more succintly. The horrific wedding and running through town in a merangue of a dress are painful when in romantic comedies, shoving them into this sort of film is just pathetic.

I could go on, but I'm not going to bother. If you've read this without seeing the film, I'd still say it's worth seeing, the things it does well, it does very well indeed. I'm just disappointed with it's faillings, which I believe could have been easily avoided.


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read biography for - Kath

 Kath ( 18th Jul 2004, 21:43, Rank: Dust Puppy )  reply

I have to admit I was rather dissapointed with the film, for several of the reasons you list above, like auntie May's speech, Uncle Ben's speech and the soft-focus wedding dress in a park thing.

One of my big beefs with the film is the abrupt and jarring changes in tone -every scene in the paper is comedy (to use the term loosely) featuring people with no acutal personalities at all, which compares so badly to the rest of the film, and its generally well-rounded characters. I really think the director(s) should have picked one style or the other and stuck with it as the constant chopping and changing ot really annoying.

Overall, i found the film a bit boring, but I suspect I wasn't in right mood for it which may have contributed to my negative reaction to it. It's not a bad film, just one with several areas that really let it down.


read biography for - karne

 karne ( 19th Jul 2004, 10:52, Rank: GSV )  reply

I found the film self obsessed to the point of redicule. Great fight scenes and a superb performance by the actor playing Dr. Oct, badly marred by excess agst and clunky pacing (I'm not stupid, I don't need EVERYTHING spelt out to me, certainly not 3 times). Also - wtf with Spider/Superman stopping trains with the strength of his own body?

Also - was I the only one cheering on the minor characters (the astronaut and the land lord's daughter)? Both the main characters could have used a damn good slapping..

As you can probably tell, I was very disappointed - there's some VERY cool and well done stuff in this film. Shame about the rest. The ending grated badly too!


read biography for - Sulkyblue

 Sulkyblue ( 19th Jul 2004, 11:11, Rank: Nazgul )  reply

(Just realised how badly formatted that review was, so threw in some line breaks)

Kath - I agree completely about the very varying tone. I found the scene in the surgery extremely disturbing and on a completely different level to the rest of the film. Lack of backbone - I guess you're right, it is consistant for hte character to have such a reluctance to stand up for himself, but doesn't make me think much of the character.
friends not caring about his problems - while Harry did indeed try to help him out a bit, and turn up to his party despite being so busy, he was still trying to guilt him into revealing Spider-Man. Maybe Peter wouldn't have accepted money or a job from Harry, but it would have helped the character if he'd offered. My principle objection is with MJ, yes she eventually says isn't it time someone saved your life, but she only says it once it coincides with what *she* wants. I know his friends care about him, but they're not exactly there for him when he needs them are they? wedding dress - yeah I agree completely that she should leave as soon as she makes a decision. But why was she making the decision at the last moment? Has anyone in real life actually heard of anyone getting as far as that and then deciding to run out on the wedding to go to another man? It was a cheesy movie moment simply there to have some drama in the drawn out ending.

Novelisations of films while entertaining and giving the potential for adding depth are at the end of the day additions. Character motivations should make sense entirely within the range of the film. I just took it that Jameson treats Spider-Man as a villain 'cos that will sell more papers, the character works as a one dimensional character, but I think he may have got a little too much screen time here. speeches - i dislike being preeched at, yes while the speeches said more than my ultra-brief sumamries, there wasn't much in there that I couldn't work out for myself from what's actually going on on screen. This is similar to my point about novelisations - you shouldn't need additional resources to make sense of the characters and film (not that I'm saying this one does), but at the same time you don't need to show *and* tell the audience something. This just loses impact and makes your audience fall asleep. The only thing keeping me awake for the Aunt May bits were the fact that frankly Rosemery Harris could do Cat Food adverts and I'd watch her.

Best new film of the year? I wouldn't even put it close. Shrek 2 was infinitely more fun to watch, Day After Tomorrow and Van Helsing were more entertaining as blockbusters and Harry Potter had more depth and style to it. I've even ranked Troy as better than this.


read biography for - gaspode

 gaspode ( 19th Jul 2004, 12:21, Rank: Killer Rabbit )  reply

Obviously if any supervillain really wanted to dispose of Spiderman, they'd drop him in a giant bathtub and wait for him to die of starvation trying to climb up the sides...


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