A and A's Movie A Day

Watching movies until we run out.

Movie 391 – Spider-Man 2

Spider-Man 2 – March 26th, 2011

The beginning of this movie, the first half hour and a bit – was painful for me to watch. Oh, I get that it’s setting up Peter in a downtrodden state so we’re all rooting for him to buck up and do well! But my goodness, this movie goes above and beyond. He loses his job, can’t pay his rent, is failing his classes, misses appointments and dates, crashes his bike, disappoints everyone he loves and respects, etc. On one hand, there are scenes like him in an elevator in full Spidey costume, having small talk with Hal Sparks about how the outfit itches and rides up in the crotch. On the other hand, he leaves pathetic messages on MJ’s answering machine to try and explain why he missed her play. Is it fun to watch Peter get berated by his landlord and his professor? Is it entertaining to see him (and Aunt May) struggle to make ends meet and fail miserably? No. Not for me, anyhow.

I can deal with a certain level of angst from my superheroes. I love me some broody Bruce Wayne and I’m totally down with snarly Wolverine. The Hulk’s not my favorite character, but I can run with the source of his issues. Hell, I’m not well versed on the comic version of Tony Stark, but I’m well aware he’s wallowed a good deal and he certainly had a breakdown in the second movie. The thing is, while there’s plenty of angst to go around for those guys, the difference for me is that they moan and whine and sulk and then they get things done. Peter just mopes. Even when faced with situations where he could help – and does – he still mopes. He mopes before, during and after. It’s tiresome. Isn’t he supposed to be making some wisecracks in between whining? I’m willing to allow him some leeway, what with him not being a gajillionaire like Bruce and Tony (we’re all on a first name basis, of course), but you know, I watch comic book movies for escapism, not to watch a hero cope with bankruptcy and unemployment.

Thank goodness for Alfred Molina as Doc Ock and J.K. Simmons as Jonah. And okay, as the plot goes? It’s pretty decent. Really, I do get the whole deal with giving Peter a reason (okay, several reasons) to doubt his role as a superhero. The pay is shit, it’s physically draining, it’s time consuming and it taxes his relationships with everyone around him. So he decides to quit and hooray, life is better! Not that we ever really see him pay his rent or get a steady job, but there is the general impression that life without Spider Man is far more stable and generally happy and upbeat. We get a montage! A montage set to “Raindrops Keep Falling on My Head”, at that! And that’s the whole point here. Because we’re supposed to see how hard it is for Peter to choose between a normal life where he gets the girl and the grades and can apparently pay his rent and a superhero life where he can save lives but everything else suffers. There should be a contrast there so we see the stakes and know why he might choose to give it up even though it would seem to be a no-brainer. So I get the concept.

And I like the villain. I like Doc Ock and I like the split personality theme that’s going on here and that went on in the previous movie where the villains are people who might otherwise have been mentors to Peter, but whose hubris causes their creations to take them over. It’s a great contrast to Peter/Spider Man, who’s got no hubris to speak of because he’s never had a reason to see himself as infallible. On the contrary, he’s quite fallible. His powers come from an accident. They were unwanted. He never went looking for them. So I like the choices of villains so far and I really did enjoy Alfred Molina as Doc Ock. He has a nice, if quick, character arc and Molina plays him well both as a sympathetic character and an antagonistic one, which is nice (I mean, much as I loved Willem Dafoe as the Green Goblin, he never really struck me as sympathetic).

As for the rest, well, I’ve got to say that the humor content of the first movie balanced it out a lot better than in this one. That’s probably because the humor content is all but nonexistant. We watch Peter struggle for much of the movie. His regular life is a mess because he’s spending so much time slinging web all over New York, and then his powers start to go on the fritz every so often. He’s stressed and tired and finally just gives in, right when Doc Ock is starting to really wreak havoc on the city. MJ’s mad at him, Harry’s a drunken mess and Peter’s given up the hero gig to try and fix his life. He even tearfully admits to Aunt Mae (who’s losing her house, by the way) his role in Uncle Ben’s death. There are no witty wisecracks here. No jokes, no lighthearted moments of humor. The attempts are kind of sad and painful. The only reprieve is Jonah, who is as bombastic as ever and pretty much exactly how I always assumed he’d sound and move. Between Jonah and Doc Ock, there are some good moments here. But the movie insists on continuing to go back to its title character and hang out with him in wet blanket town.

Seriously, Spidey. I get it that your uncle got killed and you blame yourself and your best friend blames your alter ego for his father’s death and your not-girlfriend isn’t waiting for you and life is haaaaaaaard but look at Wolverine! Dude was experimented on and can’t remember his past and you don’t see him staring out the window of his strangely large NYC apartment, pondering whether he’s supposed to be able to be happy. Suck it up or CRY MOAR!

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March 26, 2011 - Posted by | daily reviews | , , ,

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