I have to wait three years?

What Steven Spielberg movie? I’m all about the webs, baby. You’re either gonna see it or not so I’ll just skip the ooohs and ahhhs and cut right to the spoilers and commentary.

Oh, one thing. Step back with me to the halcyon days of 1994. Remember the guy who directed Dead Alive and Meet The Feebles, and the guy who directed the Evil Dead movies? They’re gonna be critically acclaimed directors who make billions of dollars at the box office. No, really.

Very funny old world.

Those spoilers and commentary are going to come in reverse chronological order, by the by. So if you thought you could click through and read just a little more before I ruin the ending? No. In fact, I’m going to spoil things which may happen several movies later. Just sayin’.

The last line is perfect, but not quite as perfect as the last look on MJ’s face. Yeah, she’s made her choice, but it’s going to be really hard for her to stick to it. She’s having a tough time of it mere moments after she urges Peter on.

Too much taking off of the mask. Taking it off on the train, OK, because there’s a payoff. Taking it off in the final battle, OK, because there’s a payoff… but it probably should have been one or the other. I’d have kept the train unmasking and dropped the final reveal. Octavius is brilliant, right? So let Spider-Man trade physics dialogue with him when they’re trying to figure out how to stop the fusion reaction, and Octavius says “Wait — you’re Peter Parker.” Anyhow. Taking the mask off because he’s lost his powers — just dorky and killed the impact of the train unmasking. But that’s the only complaint I have.

I enjoyed the awareness of the first movie. This is a series, not a bunch of movies about the same characters. In particular, the scene where MJ kisses John Jameson upside down and the scene where MJ and Peter talk in the backyard, again? Yeah, those were really good.

Excellent sense of whimsy. Musical montages are good. Even the goofy ones.

Oh my god, those were fight scenes. In particular, and I don’t recall the first movie doing this quite as well, you get a real sense of Spider-Man as an incredible hand to hand combatant, which of course he is. Proportional strength and reflexes of a spider, remember? He’s not all webs and quips. The sequence where he fights Doc Ock after the bank robbery was so good I wanted to take it home with me.

The first scene with Octavius and Peter Parker was my favorite scene in the movie, though. Doc Ock was much more grounded, and much richer a character than was the Green Goblin. Better written? Maybe, and maybe Alfred Molina just took the role seriously. So far, we’ve had the Green Goblin and Doc Ock, both of them men wrestling with inner (or not so inner) demons which speak to them of pride and avarice. The truth that Molina puts into Octavius’ interest in Peter makes his bout with madness work much better on screen. The malevolent living tentacles don’t hurt at all, mind you. His costume is about ten times better than anything they came up with for the Green Goblin.

Speaking of which, it looks like young Harry’s going the same way; and then there’s Curt Connor, who in comics continuity winds up as a villain struggling to maintain humanity; and of course (I admit I did not know this off the top of my head) John Jameson winds up as Man-wolf, yet another villain struggling against his villainous nature. So there’s your villain theme for the series.

In the credits, MJ is the only person who appears in photo-realistic images, as opposed to Alex Ross paintings. This is no doubt deeply significant.

The next one isn’t coming till 2007. Damn it.

6 Comments

  1. The friend I saw the movie with argued that he had to take off the mask because you can’t really act effectively through a mask that completely conceals your face. Not sure I buy that, but it’s an argument, at least.

    Besides becoming Man-Wolf, there was an issue of Spider-Man where John Jameson gained size and strength after being exposed to alien spores and his dad sicked him on Spider-Man. I’d have to look up the title/issue number.

  2. “The friend I saw the movie with argued that he had to take off the mask because you can’t really act effectively through a mask that completely conceals your face.”

    Anybody who’s ever seen ancient Greek drama with masks knows that’s bogus. It’s a different kind of acting, and one that modern audiences might not dig in large part, but it can be done, and done well.

    CU

  3. I have to side with Steven’s friend here and against Chad and the ancient Greeks.

    Remember the scene in Spider-Man 1 where Spidey and the Goblin talk on top of a building? And both of them have immobile face masks? It’s ridiculous to watch. Absolutely laughable. Somewhere between mime and Power Rangers.

    Reaction shots, close ups of faces, big expressive eyes – these are big and necessary parts of the language of film acting. Particularly with Tobey Maguire, whose acting talent is all in his face. Having both Spidey and Doc Ock unmasked made for much more powerful interactions, IMHO.

    I do like Bryant’s idea about Octavius figuring out Spider-man’s identity just through talking about him. But it’s pretty much an immutable law of superhero universes that nobody can ever figure out a secret identity through anything other than an unmasking, no matter how obvious the other clues are.

    Last point on the subject: I was pleased and surprised that Spidey got unmasked to MJ and Harry and that the MJ Peter romance moved forward. Standard movie-franchise and comic book plotting might have been to stretch those out over four or five damn movies.

  4. Brad and I were really tickled by the idea that Doc Ock wasn’t so much powerhungry or mad as that the waldos were created to build a fusion reaction, and by damn when they took over that’s what they wanted to do, and they’d stop at nothing to justify the end they were created for. So when they took him over he became a fusion-creating villain and therefore very… driven.

  5. I was a little unclear on Doc Ock’s “sinister” motivation. “Spider-Man! Only you can stop Doc Ock from… creating a cheap renewable power source!”

  6. Ah, the classic comic book trope: “Science is dangerous, but only bright teenagers realize it.”

    In all fairness, Doc Ock did not appear to actually correct any mistakes from the first test run. I am no physicist but I am pretty sure that when something blows up, the solution is not always “do it the same, except make it bigger.”

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