A and A's Movie A Day

Watching movies until we run out.

Spider Man 2

March 26, 2011

Spider Man 2

If there’s one lesson to be learned from the Spider Man movies it’s that being a brilliant scientist is a one way street to insanity and crime. It destroyed Norman Osborn and in this movie it destroys Otto Octavious. It also spells a kind of doom for Peter Parker, although it’s not his brilliance that destroys him, it’s just random happenstance. Still – in this universe brilliance equals doom. Kind of a sad message, really.

I’m getting ahead of myself though. The enemy in this movie isn’t science after all. It isn’t even Doc Oc, although he’s the primary super villain in this story. The main foe that Peter Parker needs to combat in this movie is Spider Man, which is simultaneously kind of a cool thing to do with a super hero movie and really irritating. The theme of the movie is that it is hard for Peter to be a super hero – it pretty much ruins everything in his life. It’s a good, strong, and interesting spine for the movie, and results in a strong emotional core to the action which raises the movie above the average comic book movie. The problem is that it requires the viewer to witness Peter’s life being systematically destroyed by his alter-ego, which is kind of hard to watch.

First we see Peter lose his pizza delivery job because he takes time out from an urgent delivery to save some children from being run over by a truck. Then he gets chewed out by his college physics professor for missing class and being late with his term paper. His landlord yells at him for being late with his rent. He misses a chance to see Mary Jane performing in The Importance of Being Ernest because he stops on the way to stop some bad guys with guns in a convertible. In short: he cannot live a normal life in any way. It’s not particularly fun stuff, and after the simplicity and cartoonishness of the first movie it’s a pretty harsh contrast.

Of course there’s the whole plot about Otto and his out of control mechanical arms trying to re-create the experiment that caused him to become the demented Doc Octopus, but he’s more there to provide a reason for Peter to don the red and blue again than to be a serious villain. About halfway through the movie Peter gives up on being Spider Man. He decides to just be a normal citizen. He wants simple romance with the painfully skinny daughter of his landlord and a chance to do his homework and maybe a chance to fix things up with M.J. after she flounces out on him to marry Jameson’s son the astronaut (and sometime werewolf.) But when Doc Oc, at the urging of Harry, who has a grudge against Spidey for the death of his father, abducts M.J. Spider Man has to come out of retirement to save his love, and save the city besides.

There’s a slightly uneven tone to this movie though. It’s hard to mix humor and wisecracking with all this moping. You go from seeing how awful Peter’s life is to Hal Sparks making comments about how uncomfortable the Spidy suit must be. It’s just odd. I like the humor, and as with the first movie any scene involving J. Jonah Jameson is pure gold, but it doesn’t always feel like it fits. This movie needs to figure out just what it wants to be.

This is a far better movie than the first one I think. The maudlin and emo mood of it is irritating, yes, but it’s a movie with a coherent plot that all serves to explore the character of Peter Parker. I like to see character exploration and emotional issues in my super heroes. Sure, yes, Dark Knight did it better (and had Heath Ledger) but that doesn’t mean that this movie is bad. There are hints though, little bits that indicate the direction that the series is going. The montage of Peter living a normal life is okay (if cheesy) but it resonates with me because it raises memories of the dreadful scenes from tomorrow’s movie of “evil Peter.” Oh, dear. I’m not looking forward to watching that again.

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

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