« Weekend Caption Contest™ Winners | Main | Bush's State of the Union Speech Redeemed »

Your friendly neighborhood Spider-Man 2 review

Last night I saw Spider-Man 2 (for the second time, appropriately enough). It’s everything the first one was, and better. The whole clock-tower/train sequence alone is worth the price of admission, and Alfred Molina is brilliant and utterly believable as a psycho nutcase with four mechanical arms welded to him.

(most of review/critique/commentary in the extended section to conceal spoilers)

I also picked up on three, possibly four future bad guys in the movie: the Lizard, Man-Wolf, and two candidates for another Green Goblin or Hobgoblin.

I did notice a couple things that bugged me, though. The main thing was that the ending was a smidgen predictable. I am getting more than a little tired of the villain established/finds out hero’s identity/dies (usually by his own hand) plot. It happened to the Joker, the Penguin, Bullseye, the Green Goblin, and now Doctor Octopus. In the movie, Spider-Man tells Mary Jane that he will “always have enemies,” but the evidence isn’t borne out: the two major threats he’s faced thus far eventually killed themselves.

A few years ago I read a piece that outlined the difference between writing for movies and writing for TV, and the principle carries over to comics and other episodic genres. In a movie, you’re supposed to be watching the single most important events in a character’s life. On TV, if you do that, there’s absolutely no reason for anyone to tune in next week.

There have been two solutions to this problem. The first is to make each episode essentially stand on it’s own, where it’s unnecessary to have seen very much of what happened before. That worked in “Dragnet,” the original “Star Trek,” and even “M*A*S*H” (where the only readily noticeable distinction between seasons was the mix of characters and their relative ages). The other solution is to use multiple “story arcs,” different plot lines that run concurrently. With this approach, as viewers are watching one story line wrap up, there’s another about to climax and several others in various stages of progress. This was used successfully in “Babylon 5,” “Star Trek: Deep Space 9,” “NYPD Blue,” and (I think) was first developed for soap operas.

The idea of arcs hasn’t worked too well in the movies. I suspect it’s from the innate nature of the beast. No movie is GUARANTEED a sequel, so therefore the creators feel they have to wrap up as many threads by the closing credits as they can. They can’t afford to leave large pieces untold “for the sequel.” This tends to push them to continually push harder and harder, always trying to top their previous effort, until they end up going “over the top” and degenerating into self-parody. (for example, see the fourth installment of “Superman” or “Batman.” Or better yet, don’t and just take my word for it. They are, indeed, THAT bad.)

Here’s hoping they keep up the Spider-Man series. They’ve had great writing so far, an outstanding cast, and the special effects (OK, Spidey looks a little rubbery in some of the CGI, but for the most part it’s amazingly good) are spectacular. If you liked the first, you’ll love the second. And no, while it’s nice to have seen the first one, the sequel recaptures the key elements in gorgeous paintings by Alex Ross. See it. See it several times. See it for no other reason than to drive “Fahrenheit 9/11” further down the sales charts. And pick up the novelization, as well – it’s written by Peter David, one of my favorite writers (even if I can’t stand his politics), and really fleshes out a lot of the film. I just wish the book version of the train sequence was closer to the film’s version.

P.S.: On the way to the theatre, I saw a car with the license plate “AEIOU.” As it sped off, I turned to my companion and asked, “would you call that a ‘vowel movement?’” He nearly sprayed the inside of my windshield with soda.

Comments (11)

I explained to my be... (Below threshold)

I explained to my beautiful wife that Spiderman fanboys watch the movie on a whole different level because they recognize John Jameson and Dr. Connors and the possibilities they represent, not only for the future of the franchise, but also for this very movie. What if they....

So, did you spot Stan Lee?

Brian, I spotted him TWICE.... (Below threshold)
Jay Tea:

Brian, I spotted him TWICE.

Beat that.


Yeah, I'd have to agree who... (Below threshold)

Yeah, I'd have to agree wholeheartedly. As a lifelong Spidey fan, this one came the closest to the comic in terms of story arc and personal drama.

Still, I'm waiting for the smart-aleck side of the web slinger to kick in. That's what made those books so much fun - waiting for him to crack on Doc Ock's hair or something equally as ludicrous while kicking his ass,

I don't know if you'd class... (Below threshold)

I don't know if you'd classify him as an arch-villain, but Superman has Lex Luthor still kickin around hatching plots to take over the world...

" I am getting more than a ... (Below threshold)

" I am getting more than a little tired of the villain established/finds out hero’s identity/dies (usually by his own hand) plot."

I don't know... It seems that there is a bit of "weasel rooom" to say that Doc Ock DIDN'T die, allowing for a comeback. We only see him sinking... Admittably it's a comic book cliche, but it hasn't been really done in films since Ming the Merciless made his last comeback in the Flash Gordon serials.

I HATE CGI - technology has... (Below threshold)

I HATE CGI - technology has single-handedly ruined the film industry. It is cheaper than performing the stunts, and it looks it. Albeit, some of that web-slinging couldn't actually be performed, but goddamnit, I don't go to feature films not made by Disney to see cartoons. In fact, I refuse to go to a theature to sit through a two-hour long cartoon ever. However, the more and more "sophisticated" these stupid computer geeks get, the worse and worse the infiltration becomes. Anyone see that movie "Simone?" I guess one good thing could come out of this - no more actors.

Bad guys? I saw the potent... (Below threshold)

Bad guys? I saw the potential Green Goblin, Lizard, and Man-Wolf, but where do you see a potential Hobgoblin?

IMO, the greatest weakness of these comic-book movies is that they have to reach further down in the hero's rogues' gallery to find a villain.

In the case of Spider-Man, expect me to hop off the train when they reveal Mysterio, Beetle, and Ringmaster.

Ah, Pennywit takes my bait.... (Below threshold)
Jay Tea:

Ah, Pennywit takes my bait...

One of the multitudes of people to wear the Green Goblin/Hobgoblin mask was Harry Osborn's psychiatrist. We saw Harry go bonkers (he might have been seeing a shrink), and we saw Peter talking with a doctor about his "Spider-Man" dreams...

I know it's a hell of a stretch, but they've played faster and looser with the original material before...

And Madfish: you're right about the Superman movies. But that was B.T.B.B. (Before Tim Burton's Batman), which redefined the concept of "Super-Hero movies." Also, let's not forget that by the end of the Superman movies, he was teaming up with Richard Pryor and campaigning for nuclear disarmament...


Oh, Jay Tea, thou dost not ... (Below threshold)

Oh, Jay Tea, thou dost not know what thou has wrought.

I don't see a possibility for the Hobgobling to pick up. The Hobgoblin accidentally stumbled across one of the Green Goblin's warehouses and became a thug. Meanwhile, Green Goblins II and III were, respectively, Harry Osborne and Harry's shrink. I still don't see any possibility for a Hobgoblin in there.

I also didn't see any sign of the Good Goblin or Demogoblin.

However, don't you think that Venom and Carnage are both possibilities?


It's not really a fair heig... (Below threshold)

It's not really a fair height to set the bar but a fantastic method for sequencial movies is the style in which Peter Jackson filmed the Lord of the Rings. It's a monumental investment in time and resources but it flowed from one movie to the other exceptionally well. Sure, it was paced by three different books but Jackson took a lot of liberty in what he included in one movie to the other in so far as material from Two Towers was actually in Return of the King etc..

Perhaps producers would be more willing to experiment with two movies at a time than three? After the first Spiderman they knew they would have some financial success with 2 which is why the end was so well developed for the 3rd installment. I'm just guessing they haven't written anything for the 3rd yet outside of the hobgoblin establishment. /end ramble.

When are we getting X-Men 3... (Below threshold)

When are we getting X-Men 3?






Follow Wizbang

Follow Wizbang on FacebookFollow Wizbang on TwitterSubscribe to Wizbang feedWizbang Mobile


Send e-mail tips to us:

[email protected]

Fresh Links


Section Editor: Maggie Whitton

Editors: Jay Tea, Lorie Byrd, Kim Priestap, DJ Drummond, Michael Laprarie, Baron Von Ottomatic, Shawn Mallow, Rick, Dan Karipides, Michael Avitablile, Charlie Quidnunc, Steve Schippert

Emeritus: Paul, Mary Katherine Ham, Jim Addison, Alexander K. McClure, Cassy Fiano, Bill Jempty, John Stansbury, Rob Port

In Memorium: HughS

All original content copyright © 2003-2010 by Wizbang®, LLC. All rights reserved. Wizbang® is a registered service mark.

Powered by Movable Type Pro 4.361

Hosting by ServInt

Ratings on this site are powered by the Ajax Ratings Pro plugin for Movable Type.

Search on this site is powered by the FastSearch plugin for Movable Type.

Blogrolls on this site are powered by the MT-Blogroll.

Temporary site design is based on Cutline and Cutline for MT. Graphics by Apothegm Designs.

Author Login

Terms Of Service

DCMA Compliance Notice

Privacy Policy