Monday, August 02, 2004

Spider-Man 2

With a title called Spider-man 2 its really difficult for a movie to take itself seriously and believe it can work like a real movie. Spider-man 2 brushes aside these difficulties and goes beyond what is expected of it. What works for Spider-man, and I have to say the movie works very well, is that it stays away from mindless special effects/stereo typical villians. It steers clear of the banality of showing new kinds of superpowers and gadgets.

Having read tons of Marvel/DC Comics and gulping down my fair share of comic book nerdity, I have to say Marvel Comics envisioned Spiderman much the same way as what director Sam Riami potrays. Infact Riami's version seems to create a much better impact and is more believable than the comic books inspite of coming out half century later. At the time when Marvel came up with the notion of spiderman, the initial skepticism was something like "whats so great about a man who resembles a spider? whats so great about a spider anyway ?". Surprisingly Peter Parker and his famous alter ego hit it off very well with the public much the same way as Clark Kent & Superman did. It was not because of their similarities, both Parker and Kent worked for newspapers, one for the Daily Bugle and the other Daily Planet, but because of their contrasts, Superman was an alien called Kal-El from planet Krypton whereas Spidey was just a boy next door. Even though Superman claimed that its characters were based out of a city called Metropolis, it was evident that Metropolis was just an alias for NewYork City. Marvel comics kept it simple by basing Spiderman out of New York.

For people who know a thing or two about movies based on comic books; In 1977, when Alexander Salkind flirted with the idea of making a superhero movie, He roped in Mario Puzo (yah! the Godfather dude) to write the screenplay for the first ever Superman movie. The first Superman movie bolstered by a wonderful cast remained one of the best superhero movies to have ever been made. That is until Spider-man 2 came out. So far there have been 4 Superman & Batman movies, 1 Supergirl movie, and thousand and one misc movies like Shaft, The Mask and X-Men.

Spider-Man 2 stands as tall as Superman1. Its an eerie coincidence that Novelist Michael Chabon figures in this movie as screenplay writer much the same way as Puzo did in Superman1. Spiderman2 then goes beyond what Superman1 tried to acheive and stays away from all the pace-related pitfalls that made Superman 3 a flop. All 3 movies deals with the conflict involving a person finding out that he is not a normal person anymore. These movies extensively deal with the central character's struggle to cope with the pressure and thanklessness of being a superhero and balancing a superhero life with their regular life.(In batman Bruce Wayne broods the hell out of his misery to create a whacky abnormal self-sympathising creature called Batman) . I would have been dissapointed if Spider-man2 was a linear movie with a clear black and white villian, who is merely filled with delusions of world domination. I would have walked out if the movie just dealt with the trite schemes by the villian and merely show how Spiderman thwarted them.

Every teenager who has grown up on comic books from Tintin to Richie Rich knows that, its not the action or plot that brings home the thrills, its a creation of fantasy world where kids wallow in their dream of being a superhero themselves. That capacity to identify is what establishes success. In that way Spiderman sometimes scores over Superman because, the latter was born differently and was destined to be a Superhero whereas Spiderman could happen to just about anybody ( well! it could!).

In this movie, Peter continues to deal with the travails that teenagers in Uncle Sam's land get to face. Living on their own, out of a part time job with barely 1 relative to care for and 1 girl-next-door to yearn for. Peter's setup itself is good enough to squeeze out every last bit of teenage dollar that Sam Riami was assigned to do. Spiderman infringes on Peter's life and we as fantasisers realize that a superhero gift is not so much a gift after all as much as it is a burden ( I would still take that radio active spider and make it bite me if i got a chance!). This is why I liked the movie, being able to fly or climb walls and spin webs is a huge change to a person's life. The changes aren't just about newspaper headlines and flying across the world with Louis Lane. This movie focuses wonderfully well on how a person's life could be impacted by such changes.

Peter knows how his uncle died and in this movie finally reveals the full truth to his aunt. He is also caught between the responsibility to protect Mary.J.Watson's safety and his desire for her. His life is not simple and the complication hurts. It is true that some movies inspire and influences kids in a big way.This movie makes sure there is a positive twist in the philosophical arena with neat little phrases on intelligence and hardwork. There is humor in this movie too, the elevator scene especially, where Spiderman complains about his costume being too tight near the crotch, that scene was a riot in the way silence was used to provoke humor.

The movie keeps a fair pace, Sam Riami balances the emotional part and the animated CGI part wonderfully. The CGI part still jars when its merged with the real movie but I suspect it will become seamless in the next spidey installment. When viewers begin to wonder if the plot was declining (like bernoulli's equation) to resemble that of a MegaSerial/Bollywood melodrama crap, Riami immediately energizes us with action. And the action is not mindless, it involves personal characters (like Peter's aunt caught by Doc Ock in a thrilling high rise building action sequenece). The train sequence is amazing for the special effects. Certain action sequences like Doc Ock throwing the doors of a Taxi Cab on Spiderman has been taken remarkably well!

Finally! the movie is bold enough to expose the identity of Spiderman to everybody without a care in the world. Yes! everbody from Doc Ock, MJW to the kid on the train knows who spidey is. Spiderman doesn't make them forget what they saw by kissing them, like the way Superman does. He doesn't need to protect his idenity the way Bruce Wayne does with frightening paranoia. The movie ends with enough scope for another Green Goblin to terrorize NewYork and we can also look forward to how Mary Jane copes with the pressure of being a super hero's girl. Hopefully her character should be more real unlike that of Louis Lane. Sam Riami has done enough to inspire such a hope


Ekta said...

well...nice blog!
though my blog on spidy2 will tell u how I probably dont agree with most of your opinions here:-)

Hawkeye said...

i saw u had written about spidey 2 before i actually got to see the movie. After, i saw the movie and wrote my own blog, the first thing I did was take a look at your blog and other spidey2 reviews.

Although my review and yours seem to be saying 2 different things..i was still able to like (and probably agree) with your review also.

it is this subjectivity that adds some sort of charm to life. the different expectations people bring in and different interpretations people take away.

if you notice the difference between the 2 blogs was what we wanted out of the movie. usually our interpretations sort of depend on how our expectations are met.

that is why things from correcting language papers in school and managing a country and/or state is so challenging.. people bring in lot of subjectivity and they are so random (but thats the challenge).

Suresh Ramani said...

Well, I hated Spidey 1 and had no intentions of seeing Spidey 2 until I read this blog .. When I read the blog, I wondered - ok, everything is alright, but what about the unbearable casting in the movie - the heroine can't maintain a straight face for nuts .. let alone not being able to act, she was just repulsive on the screen .. In any case, I decided to go see the sequel inspite of Kirsten Dunst .. only to see if the rest of the stuff that you had mentioned in the review would sufficiently offset the Dunst factor .. and I must say I wasn't disappointed at all.

I haven't read the Spidey comics (yeah, thats me!) but I was really impressed by the treatment of the characters in this movie .. now may be I should go back and see Spidey 1 ..

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