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Thursday, July 01, 2004

Spider-Man 2

When the ticket dude informed me there was not a 8pm showing at Glendale I must admit that was the best Chewbacca growl I've had in 20 years to express my displeasure. I could have made the 7:30 showing but I was starving and needed a meal. Taco Bell provides a good fascimile of a meal. It was my fault as I transposed the theaters in the paper. Sometimes I do wonder if I'm dyslexic. 8:30 showing at 96th street was doable.

Could the sequel live up to the original? Could it live up to all the hype? Could it live up to my own jazzed up expectations? The original Spider-Man was a 5 star superhero movie in good company with Batman and Superman. You never know, this sequel could be even better than the original. Think of The Wrath of Khan superiority over the original Star Trek.

First, I loved the review of the original movie through the prism of the opening credits. Pretty slick and a touching tribute to the comic book medium that spawned the film. If someone hadn't seen the original film they now had all the information that they needed to know. Second: it was good to see all the subtle cameos: Bruce Campbell as a snooty usher and creator Stan Lee was in there so quick that if you blinked you would have missed him. Didn't spot Xena though. Third: the humor is everywhere in this movie. The 'elevator scene' in the first quarter of the film is absolutely hilarious. Fourth: the special effects were awesome; however, I expect that from a $200 million movie. What was good about them was that many things were subtle instead of in your face. Fifth: I'm curious about seeing Tobey Mcguire and Kirsten Dunst in a different movie as they really have good chemistry.

But Brian, what about the movie itself?
The movie has many enriching sideplots that add depth to the story. The original's plot seems almost anorexic by comparison. There is much discussion of duty, sacrific, dreams, prices paid, and the long term consequences to long completed choices. One scene told why we need heros. Sounded like things I've posted about in the past. We truly watch the weight of the world on the shoulders of one far too young to carry the burden. My one somewhat significant complaint is that this movie really sets up the third one, so parts feel unresolved.

I give Spider-Man 2 4.75 Stars. It is a compromise rating because I leave with this one caveat. These two movies present the classic Star Wars/Empire Strikes Back issue. Both movies are fantastic and modern classics. Star Wars is the more popular of the two, yet Empire is the better movie. I believe the same thing will happen with Spider-Man and Spider-Man 2. The first is more satisfying emotionally, the later is more satisfying intellectually.

I'll likely see it at least twice more on the big screen with various groups of friends. I don't have a problem with that. That is one way to rate the film.

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