6 July 2004

Review: Spiderman 2 (4/5)

Spiderman 2 was a strong entry as far as superhero movies goes. It was equal parts humor, action, and pathos. The range was required for the movie's length--without it, a lesser attempt would have lost our interest. And although it did wander some, its characters kept our attention. Many movies of this genre try to tell you how you should feel about the characters, a flaw inherited from comic books themselves. The Saturday after I saw the movie, I channel-surfed past the cartoon and was reminded how dismally obvious comic melodrama can be. The Spiderman movie successfully allows the primary characters to define themselves without resorting to paint-by-numbers development.

And the skillful part is that they do this despite some very hackneyed scenes. At times, Peter Parker stumbles through a series of clumsy prat-falls, his mother gives an emphatic but obvious paean to heroics, the editor of the Daily Bugle cackles over his media manipulation of the public. Although all of these threaten to flatten the characters and storyline, most of the characters' actions in the movie redeems and permits those filler scenes. Peter discovers serious flaws in himself and experiences genuine doubt about his role as hero to the city and friend to Mary Jane. His mother struggles with Peter's revelations to her of his involvement in his uncle's death. And Jonah Jameson at the Bugle (Dr. Skoda from TV's Law & Order, in a wonderful character role) is an hilarious embodiment of pragmatic greed.

My attention did wander a little--the movie perhaps had the range but not the pacing--but I was ultimately entertained and moved as Peter Parker's various demons were confronted.

[ posted by sstrader on 6 July 2004 at 11:35:37 PM in Cinema ]