back! That scarlet spandexed, web-snapping, crime-wave-busting,
angst ridden arachno-human Spiderman, and just in time
to save the summer movie season. Heck, maybe the year. Show stopping
special effects aside, this warm, humanistic and finally ennobling
film is a comic book superhero movie for everyone, even those of
us who usually don’t like comic book superhero movies.
special effects are dizzying, and director Sam Raimi orchestrates
the interaction between humans and CGI with a buoyant confidence.
Spiderman's final confrontation with Doc Ock on an El train echoes
Popeye Doyle’s epochal chase in The French Connection,
adds a soupcon of Speed, and surpasses them both. Above
all else, the script gifts the audience with multi-dimensional characters,
conflicted, passionate and heroic, a rarity in realistic movies
or summer blockbusters. And Raimi has chosen his writers wisely.
Novelist Michael Chabon contributes to the story, while the superlative
Alvin Sargent, at 70-something, delivers a script that ranks among
his most notable, as well crafted as Ordinary People and
Paper Moon. Tobey Maguire as Peter Parker/Spiderman and
Kirsten Dunst as his true love, Mary Jane Watson, headline a cast
that clearly revels in Sargent and Raimi’s outstanding vision.
is an unwilling Spiderman, like all truly interesting heroes, and
the inner struggle between his warring nerd and superhero personalities
tears him apart. He remembers too well the words of his beloved
uncle, who warned him that he might be lonely, that he would have
to be strong and perhaps even have give up his dreams because of
his “gift.” Peter does live a troubled existence, emotionally
and physically exhausted by the demands of his double life. The
press villainizes Spidey to increase circulation (in a sly reference
to media manipulations today). As Peter, he continually disappoints
Mary Jane and his Aunt May, while his college professor threatens
him with failure if he doesn’t shape up. As Peter’s
depression deepens, his superpowers start to fade, and he finally
renounces his alter ego. By this time we ache for him and are almost
glad he chooses the easy way out. Suddenly, he feels great! He’s
the star pupil at Columbia, he takes another stab at wooing Mary
Jane, while the sun shines and the birds sing – he’s
high on the Prozac of normalcy. The only scene missing is a confessional
appearance on Oprah. But crime soars and chaos ensues, and Peter
sees all too clearly the cost of his choice to his beloved New York.
Where’s Spiderman, children cry, we need him!
Molina is masterful as Peter’s intellectual idol, Dr. Otto
Octavius. But after the good doctor ignores sober warnings against
his fusion experiment it goes horribly wrong. (Of course.) The resultant
metallic snake-like succubus thingie that latches onto his spine,
colonizes his brain and morphs Octavius into the evil Doc Ock is
surely the creepiest monster ever. But Sargent’s script and
Molina’s haunted eyes reveal even his inner torment, and we
cannot help but empathize with him as he faces his cruel destiny.
all its comic book delights, Spiderman-2 wins the audience
with its tale of human struggle. It’s no accident that, in
the film, budding actress Mary Jane debuts in Oscar Wilde’s
The Importance of Being Earnest, a play about false identities
and the quest for true love. Whether you’re a Big Bug or a
Victorian, these universal themes will resonate with you. One can
only hope that somewhere right now, Mr. Raimi is conferring with
Mr. Sargent on Spiderman-3.
Copyright Web del Sol, 2004