Monday, July 12, 2004

Notes on Spider-Man 2 

This is another one of those movies, I guess it's just not my thing. As these things go, it's pretty well done, but it left me just as unexcited as the first one. It's totally watchable, of course, it just didn't really do it for me, and I'm not sure why. And I know that trying to slam actual logic on a comic book movie will only result in idiotic quibbling and trek-style nitpicking. Nonetheless, here's some free-floating hostility that I feel might give you an idea of why I feel the way I do about this movie (and its predecessor).

First of all, I thought that opening scene was really stupid. I kept going "Man, after that sort of acceleration, those pizzas are gonna be trashed in those boxes." I suppose it's supposed to be funny that Spider-Man is delivering pizzas, but I didn't really think it was that funny. (Also, that strikes me as the sort of thing that might provide interested parties with a clue to Spider-Man's identity, but whatever).

There's something about the way Spider-Man has to chase down every single police car and ambulance, too. It makes him feel less heroic. Doesn't he have any faith that the police can handle a simple shoplifter or bank robber? Superheroes are supposed to be the last resort, the special weapons and tactics. This was taken to an extreme in the movie when Spider-Man quits, and crime shoots up 75 percent (according to a newspaper headline). Wow! That's a lot of crime he's stopping (even including the deterrent effect). If he could just scale back and concentrate on the really tough crooks, he could do his crime-fighting and have a life as well. Why's that so hard to figure out; we coulda skipped most of the movie if he would let the NYPD do some of the work.

Similarly, I understand that the Green Goblin had that armor. And Spider-Man has his "danger sense" that lets him anticipate bullets and dodge them. But why couldn't someone just point a gun at Doctor Octopus and shoot him? It's not like he was really that hard to find.

Also, I know these movies get lots of praise for having actual characters. That's really great. But to me, it's largely a bunch of pointless melodrama. Hey, physics-genius, just go to her after the show and tell her that you showed up but Bruce Campbell wouldn't let you in, for Christ's sake. You ran out of coins for the pay phone? Boohoo, find some more and call her later. I mean, these problems have simple solutions. I'm supposed to have patience for a whole movie full of that continual lack of effort? It made me want Spider-Man to lose out, because he deserved it. At the end, when Mary Jane is pouring her heart out to him, someone next to us said, "Oh stop," and we bust out laughing. It was just too lame. (And then he turns to chase some sirens. I fantasized that Mary Jane came to her senses while he was out hunting petty criminals).

The Spider-Man movies seem to go out of their way to try to make believable villains. And I guess this is something people appreciate. But I mean, is the entire world supply of supervillians created entirely by their own mismanaged inventions driving them insane? Aren't there ever just any sane greedy people who invent special powers? Apparently the dementia continues, and the Hobgoblin is driven criminally insane by the knowledge that Peter killed his dad. Well, whatever, nevermind.

I thought the train scene was painfully dumb. I had a real hard time believing that if a train's controls are destroyed, the train can't be stopped by a station by cutting power to the tracks. In fact, they pass a station, but Spider-Man doesn't pursue that, and apparently no one at the train's control center realizes what's going on. If I was one of the guys at Intuitor, I'd try to calculate the force that Spider-Man would have to withstand stopping the train as he does, and the likelihood that he would be able to hold onto those web cables against all that force. But I mean, it was already stupid. Why would someone build out those tracks to a dead end over the water like that?

Also, here's the weirdest thing about the movie. The effects look terrible to me. I saw a shot with helicopters, and they looked like cartoons. I could see the shadows popping across the triangle meshes. The skies look totally awful, the buildings look fake, and the characters move unnaturally. On top of the fact that they look like cartoons. I've always hated the way Spider-Man swings around in these movies, with his triple-lutzes and so on. But I'd swear he looks even worse while doing it in this movie. Where'd the $200 million go? And why does he swing between the cab and the trailer of a passing truck? That's stupid in so many ways.

Alright, that's enough for now.

a lot of the dialogue was really painful to listen to. i kept wanting for mj to shut up and take off her gear already.

you forgot to mention the fusion reactor that for some odd reason *has* to have a human operator manipulating solar flares in order to sustain the reaction.

wtf was up with that? especially if that thing was putting off all the heat and energy that octavius said it was, everybody in that room technically should have vaporized the minute they fired the damn thing up. pretty dumb fucking idea for a fusion reactor, especially considering all the power that they were putting into it (enough so that by unplugging it killed the entire "self-sustaining" reaction that he had just finished explaining), and i didn't really see how they were harvesting or gathering any of that energy.

like what warner brothers said to kevin smith when he was signed on to do superman `06 - "people don't give a shit about the plot or dialogue; this is a film to sell toys."
(1) Who said the pizzas weren't trashed? (2) In the theatre other people thought the pizza scene was funny. At first I thought it was stupid, but then realized it was meant to be that. (3) He doesn't chase every police car: he seems only to care about when many cars are involved in the chase.

(4) Crime rose due to the supervillian, too, not just Spidey stopping the small time criminals. (5) Doc Oct *was* hard to find. In the comics he can be knocked out with a single punch. Spidey is not a vigillante type in the comics. (I guess except for the guy who killed his uncle?)

(6) If a sane greedy person got superpowers, wouldn't they just use those powers in the private sector instead of going to crime? I think they need to be insane, seeking revenge, or psychopathic to be a supervillian. Lex Luther always seemed fake.

But, anyway, the big point is that Spider-Man is a heavily post-modern kind of comic book, and it does break the rules and do things differently and make fun of itself.

As for the effects, well, I guess you have a better eye than me.
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