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RE-REVIEW: "Spider-Man 2"

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Finally getting around to this and believe me, I’m glad I did. I still have the “Spider-Man 3” and “Will Of Fire” re-reviews to do and then I went ahead and threw out a notice for “Ed, Edd, N Eddy’s Big Picture Show”. Sheesh. In any case, I’m gonna hammer them out as fast as I can (while of course not so fast that they turn out to be crap) so I can get them out of the way and move on to bigger and better things to review because this shtick is too damn fun.

 

On today’s agenda: “Spider-Man 2”, the sequel to the superhero smash I reviewed not too long ago, released in 2004 and directed once again by the King of Cheese himself, Sam Raimi. With it came some old faces, some new faces, some overhauls and some, uh, back-peddling so to speak… but with all that said, how does it stand as a sequel to “Spider-Man”? How does it stand on its own? What has changed? What stayed the same? What was better? What was worse? Did it continue on that tidbit I mentioned with the first movie on how it set a bar for comic book movies? All of these questions will be answered… right now.

 

Without further ado, let’s swing into action… again.

 

Okay, to start off this review, let’s backtrack where we left off: at the end of “Spider-Man”, Peter Parker defeated the Green Goblin, inspired Harry Osborn’s hatred of his alter ego, forced himself to reject Mary Jane’s affection to protect her, and continued on the first steps of his new life as a crime-fighting, web-slinging superhero.

 

Now fast forward to… whenever this film takes place, it’s not exactly said, but you know, Peter graduated from high school in the first film and is now in college in the second one, so yeah, you do the math… and Peter continues to balance his Spider-Man duties and his average life. Harry Osborn still hates Spider-Man and while Peter is trying to make something work with Mary Jane, he keeps screwing up. Doesn’t sound too fun, huh?

 

Meanwhile, we have ourselves a new villain in town: Doctor Octopus, formerly Otto Octavius, a brilliant scientist who worked on an experiment to perfect fusion power using four mechanical arms strapped to his spine and controlled by a microchip in his neck that keeps their influence on his mind at bay. You can imagine how this goes: experiment goes wrong, microchip fizzles out, arms are fused into his spine, wife dies (damn), and he becomes a criminal bent on continuing the fusion power by any means possible due to the newfound sentience of the arms, including making a deal with Harry Osborn who will supply Octopus with his materials in exchange for the head of Spider-Man.

 

Meanwhile, we’ve got a sub-plot with Peter as his continuing struggle to be Spider-Man and be with Mary Jane causes him to have an emotional breakdown and literally lose his powers. This doesn’t last too long, of course, and by the end of the movie, he gets them back.

 

Now, I have a lot to say about those last two items I brought up, but before I do that, let me talk about the visuals and overall production of this movie. I bring this up because it is easily the biggest improvement that this film has over the first one. Remember how I complained about how the action scenes were like stunt shows? Not in this film. There’s a lot more focus on cinematography this time around, which also includes more use of CGI, which might turn some people off, but honestly, it’s way better than just having stunt doubles awkwardly attempt to pull off feats like fighting on side on the building or fighting on the top of a moving train, as well as a couple of sequences of Spider-Man swinging through the air to save civilians, and look super corny doing it. At least it looks more professional.

 

Now about Peter and Otto… oh boy…

 

Okay, so you remember how I said Peter was a really good character in “Spider-Man”? I stand by that assessment, but I have to bring up the fact that I failed to bring up any major flaws in the character. That’s my fault and I apologize, because that context is needed for what I’m about to say. First off, Peter Parker in the first film is wholesome enough, but you have to remember that this series as a whole is inspired from the Silver Age of comics, and unfortunately, that means we venture into archetypes and tones that just don’t fit. I don’t have anything against the Silver Age, but come on, this series was made in the 2000s. Ultimate Spider-Man was a thing. Heck, the 90s Spider-Man cartoon was a thing beforehand. Peter Parker as a nerd, and by nerd I mean “walking stereotype” in both look and the way he carries himself, doesn’t work. There’s a reason that we make fun of Adam West’s Batman and praise Tim Burton’s Batman or Kevin Conroy’s Batman, I’m just saying.

 

Funnily enough, that’s not the main problem I have with Peter in this movie. Yes, it’s a problem, but it extends throughout the entire series. What about Peter just in this film alone? Well… I’m going to be blunt about this: Peter Parker went from being a well-mannered, respectful person to a full-out douche nozzle. And that mostly stems from his motivations getting way too encompassed by Mary Jane. The whole “losing his powers” subplot I mentioned pretty much happens just because he can’t be with Mary Jane, and ironically enough, it’s when she’s in major trouble that he suddenly snaps out of it and becomes Spider-Man again. His entire character arc is driven by his libido. Yeah yeah yeah, there’s other things too, but be honest, the fact that he couldn’t get in Mary Jane’s pants was obviously made out to be the biggest nail in the coffin for Peter. And that’s just wrong. I mean, come on, this is suppose to be a super-hero movie, not a damn soap opera. Heck, even in soap opera’s, there’s at least a sense that characters have genuine love for each other, but here? It just feels douche-y and selfish with how Peter just can’t get the over fact that he can’t make out with his high school crush. It really hits you when you see the scene where Peter imagines he’s back when he last talked to Uncle Ben, who acts as the part of his self that wants to keep being Spider-Man but then turns him down. The next time you see it, really think about why Peter is doing what he is doing at that moment. If you’re like me, it’ll infuriate the hell out of you.

 

Now for Dr. Oplagottapussblah: first off, let’s go back to Green Goblin. I said in my review of the first film that Willum Dafoe’s performance was so over-the-top that it made his character into more of a Saturday morning cartoon villain than a villain you can take all the way seriously, also a symptom of what I call “Silver Age Syndrome”, or SAS. However, another thing about Osborn/Goblin that held him back was the fact that his character was meant to be sympathetic. Because you see, it’s not Osborn’s fault that he’s committing crimes. It’s the Goblin’s fault! He has a split personality and he can’t control himself! Oh, woe is Osborn, how we all weep for his unfortunate soul… if you can’t tell, I’m being sarcastic. Yeah, the same thing happens to Octopus in this film. “Oh no, it’s not Octavius, it’s the arms, they’re controlling him, they’re making him do bad things, it’s not his fault, blah blah blah”, oh gag me… I don’t want to come off as unsympathetic, but of all the villains to try and get the audience to side with them, why like this? See, the problem with this is that since this series has aforementioned SAS, it takes away from the element of the villain’s characters that is supposed to connect with the audience. They’re just too over-the-top or so ridiculously trying too hard to understand their motivations. These aren’t real people, they’re caricatures. That’s exactly why we mock tropes from the Silver Age, because it’s all too unrealistic. Now look, I’m not trying to be a stickler and say that comic books need to be “dark” or “edgy” or any of that crap, but for crap’s sake, if you’re actively trying to to make a villain sympathetic and relate to the audience, you gotta play things straight. And event though the films did try to play it straight, it failed.

 

Alright… now let’s talk about the train scene. Oh Lord, the train scene… for those of you who don’t know, there is a famous/infamous scene near the end of the film where Spider-Man stops a train from falling off the end of its tracks. I admit, It’s a very nice and well-put together sequence that provides a lot of action, drama, and production work, but my biggest problem is what happens right after he stops the train, and I think you all know where I’m going with this… basically: after Peter stops the train he passes out due to exhaustion. The passengers on the train carry him back inside and see his true face since he took off his mask prior to stopping the train (which is incredibly stupid by the way). They don’t recognize him as Peter Parker or anything but I shit you not, not only do they give him his mask back but they promise that “they’ll keep his secret”… you heard me right. A random group of New-Yorkers, who in real life would be busting out their cameras and cell phones and telling everybody they know about how they saw what the Web-Head looks like under the mask, promise Peter that they will keep his secret. And this is played entirely serious. Entirely. Do I… do I even need to go into detail with how asinine this seems? I think it speaks for itself. I mean, I liked one aspect of it, and that’s when after Peter puts on the mask again and Doc Ock shows up to kidnap him. The passengers stand by and protect Spider-Man. I like that. It goes along with that one scene in the first film where the boat passengers are throwing things at Goblin, enforcing a sense of unity with Spider-Man through their shared existence as denizens of New York. It makes for a really cool allusion to Spider-Man’s growth as a hero and how he was able to turn himself from a pariah to a savior and a friend to the city he loves and protects… or at least it would if that frickin’ “We’ll keep your secret” bullshit didn’t overshadow it. Ugh…

 

Okay, so to wrap up: After Doc Ock kidnaps Spider-Man, he brings him to Harry Osborn. He tries to kill Spider-Man but before he can, he takes off his mask (again) and is shocked when he realizes it’s Peter. The two bury the hatchet (sort of, but not really, it’s more like a truce) and then after, Doc Ock ends up kidnapping Mary Jane and trapping her on this construct out in the ocean where he builds his new fusion power whatever-the-crap-it-is and Spider-Man comes to save her. In the midst of the battle, the mask comes off once more and Mary Jane finally learns that Spider-Man is Peter Parker. Spider-Man defeats Ock, with the whole “feel sorry for me because I’m not the bad guy” crap getting as bad as it can possibly get for this character as he dies from drowning in the ocean. In the epilogue, Harry Osborn decides that he doesn’t want to hurt Peter but due to a weird mishap involving a cameo from Willum Dafoe as a vision of Norman Osborn, Harry discovers Norman’s hidden stash of Goblin tech. Foreshadowing…? Oh-ho boy, that’ll be fun to talk about… real fun… but anyways: Mary Jane is at her wedding with JJ’s son… yeah, I forgot to mention, she ends up getting engaged to JJ’s son but uh, I honestly don’t care, so yeah, she ditches him at the altar (like a bitch), goes to Peter, and they decide to make their relationship work even though Mary Jane knows that Peter is Spider-Man. And all is well that ends well… yaaay… I would say that Mary Jane was ruined for me in the same vein as Peter, but honestly, I never cared about Mary Jane, so I can’t… regardless, she is still a horrible person.

 

What else is there to say about this film? I mean, there were some funny parts, like in the beginning when Peter is trying to balance his pizza delivery job with stopping a crime, when he jumped off his motorcycle in front of a bunch of kids, any scene with J. Johan Jameson, when Spider-Man awkwardly takes the elevator… other than that, I can’t really say I enjoyed anything else from this film.

 

So yeah, it’s clear that this film left a bad taste in my mouth. I was trying to stay impartial in this review, but the more I thought about everything that just doesn’t work, it just made me cringe. “Spider-Man 2” is the film when the flaws of the entire film trilogy begin to rear its ugly head, with  it’s mistreated characters, over-dramatic storylines, and general tropes that you just shouldn’t have in a comic book movie, yet alone a movie in general, because seriously, this shit is not entertaining nor endearing. Not even a little bit. If you want to watch this movie, you might as well turn your brain off and enjoy the action scenes, the comedy scenes, and the production in the cinematography because otherwise, you’re in for a hot mess of an experience.

 

“Spider-Man 2” gets 6 unmasking scenes out of 10.

 

Well, now I only have two more re-reviews to do before I can focus solely on new material. And if you think it was a hassle for me to handle “Spider-Man 2”, then as for “Spider-Man 3” … I-I don’t even want to think about it, to be honest… 

Edited by Firaga Sensei

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