Spider-Man 2
June 6, 2008

I finally sat down and watched Spider-Man 2 tonight, because when talking about how much I loved Iron Man, some people said this was better.

Spider-Man 2 cover
Spider-Man 2
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About 40 minutes in, KC and I looked at each other and said “THIS is supposed to be the best superhero movie ever?” We’d just watched Doctor Octopus, having newly gained his arms, stagger out of the hospital after killing everyone, and neither one of us knew what emotion he was supposed to be feeling or what was motivating him. (Next scene, KC says “At least now he’s put on a shirt.”) We were confused when we weren’t bored.

Plus, the movie is darned depressing. No one has any money — not Spider-Man, not Aunt May, not the villain, who wants to rob banks in order to finance SCIENCE! Sure, the web-slinging is cool… when it’s not crapping out on Parker in a plotline that reminded me of the 70s Supergirl comics I used to read. (It’s psychological? Really? Who would have guessed?) And lots of stuff crashes real big. Some of the fights are impressively staged, with eye-catching effects.

But emotionally and structurally, this is one big mess, and not much fun to watch. (Except for any scene J.K. Simmons was in.) I don’t know why it gets such praise. I don’t think Tobey Maguire’s much of an actor — he has very few facial expressions — and Kirsten Dunst has been much better in other films. It is very faithful to the source material, but not in a flattering way. I’d still like to see Spider-Man 3, because I suspect Topher Grace is terrific.

18 Responses  
Guy Smiley writes:  

Yeah, if I were going to venture a bit of unsolicited advice, it would be to not watch Spider-Man 3. Grace is nothing special, and the movie is a MUCH bigger mess than 2. Too much action story crammed into the film, so it’s all frenetic and crappy. Save that two hours for something worthwhile.

James Schee writes:  

But Guy, then she’d miss the meany dancing!!!!

Nat Gertler writes:  

Topher is much better in other things. And when I tell people that you could take away half of Spider-Man 3 and be left with 2/3s of a good movie… the half with Topher is not the half that remains.

2 does the best job of the three of capturing the Lee/Ditko and Lee/Romita work… which won’t be a recommendation in everyone’s eyes.

Cole Moore Odell writes:  

Spider-Man 2 also had the best action set piece of any super-hero movie, the elevated train chase/fight–which was conceived and started before the rest of the movie around it. It’s a great translation of the visual rhythms of a Marvel fight comic (if not the patter) and an exciting scene in its own right.

In terms of structure, it essentially *is* Superman 2. I liked it well enough, especially in comparison to the half-baked first film. On balance, I actually appreciate the messiness of Raimi’s blockbuster work. I tend to think those elements are very close to the spirit of Stan Lee’s charmingly slapdash early-to-mid-period Marvel comics.

Ed Sizemore writes:  

Granted Spiderman 2 is a depressing movie, but then again, the original Spiderman comic book is just as depressing. At times Peter Parker makes Charlie Brown look like a bright ray of sunshine.

I love this interpretation of Otto Octavius prior to becoming Doc Oct. He’s a great example of a well-rounded scientist.

Overall, I enjoyed the movie, but it’s far from the greatest superhero film every made.

Alan Sepinwall writes:  

Topher’s barely even in 3. It’s like the later Batman films, where they’re squeezing in so many characters/stories (Spidey with the black costume, Venom and Sandman and a version of Hobgoblin) that there’s no time for any of them to really work.

ADD writes:  

3 is an improvement over 2, but not by much — like Alan Sepinwall says above, the overabundance of villains (and Doc Connors, to boot!) makes it feel like Spidey on Ice more than a quality superhero movie.

I think 2 seemed good at the time simply because there wasn’t much to compare it to, and at least Raimi brings professional visual chops to the party.

But if you want anything anywhere near as good as Iron Man, Johanna, you’re probably going to be looking a while. I’d recommend well-regarded superhero-y SF films instead, like maybe Dark City, a fave of mine with lots of genre nods and an ambitious storyline that actually pays off.

Johanna writes:  

Warnings about 3 are well-appreciated, thank you. It’ll probably be another 2 years or so before I get to it, anyway — we’ve got much more of the Marvel canon to work through first. I knew about Venom and the next Goblin, but Sandman too? Too much, too much!

After watching the featurettes, I am much more impressed by all the tentacle work in this one, though. I think that’s probably my favorite part. Oh, wait, no, my favorite is the bit where J. Jonah Jameson says that thing about guy named Octavius, winds up with eight limbs, what are the odds?

Ralf Haring writes:  

That Peter is still a dork even when he’s evil was my favorite part of the 3. That whole segment culminating with his dance number in the bar are what saved the movie for me. The birth of Sandman bits were excellent, but there wasn’t much else for him in the movie.

Bill D. writes:  

I loved Spider-Man 2 when I saw it in the theater, but it has not held up well to re-watchings at all. I liked Alfred Molina well enough, James Franco was alright, and of course J.K. Simmons stole any scene he was in, but Maguire and Dunst have so little range, and almost no chemistry together, so scenes with them are rough. Which is difficult, since they’re the stars and all. And while the train fight was fun to watch, the whole unmasking/remasking/Spidey as spandex Jesus scene was just ridiculous.

The first one still holds up pretty well, I think, though the scene where Peter and MJ are talking in the hospital has made me wince from day one.

Adam_Y writes:  

I’ve found all three Spidey films to be a collective snorefest. the problem being that they are just too generic.

The costumes may change but the films remain the same.

Similar in structure to pretty much every superhero film with some really ham acting.

…and I know it’s blasphemy around these parts, but I prefer films to comics, just not these films.

There seems to be a real problem translating these sort of comics to the screen and really, other than the visual effects little has changed in the sophistication of superhero films in nearly 20 years.

*sits back and thinks about the late 80s/early 90s versions of Captain America and The Punisher and tries not to cry*

but we have Watchmen on its way… and the new Batman’s aren’t too bad, I suppose.

Sigma writes:  

You might as well watch the final Spider-Man movie, for closure, if for no other reason. That was the only reason we watched the final Matrix movie, and it was a bit like a funeral. We did it, we didn’t have fun, but it’s over and we never need to do it again.

But go into it with the right attitude and loaded for mockery, because emo!Peter is just…anvilicious.

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Aaghaaz Madan writes:  

It’s “too depressing”?! Have you ever read a Spider-Man comic book? Jesus! Peter Park is pathos at it’s core. You’ve written the worst “review” of a movie I’ve ever read. Good job.

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