Friday, July 02, 2004

Spider-man 2

At the end of the first Spider-man movie, you genuinely felt sorry for Peter Parker (Tobey Maguire) when he had to renounce the love of his life, Mary Jane Watson (Kirsten Dunst), in order to continue his web-slinging activities without putting those he loved in peril. He also carried the burden of guilt for being indirectly responsible for the death of his Uncle Ben and worse yet, his life saving turns as Spiderman were reviled by the papers, most notably, The Daily Bugle, using, ironically, photos of Spiderman he himself takes.

Well, things definitely get worse the second time around. Peter’s in college now and not doing too well; he’s late for class, late for his job, late with his rent and, most importantly, too late to catch Mary Jane’s starring performance in The Importance of being Earnest. Yup, MJ’s an up-and-coming actress now and still in love with Peter (though she is going out with an astronaut). Of course, the reason for Peter’s tardiness is his “other” job, the one as Spiderman, which isn’t going too smoothly as well, these days, when his “web-supply” starts drying up all of a sudden. Yes, life has been unfair to Peter Parker and the first hour or so of the movie is spent in hammering this fact into our heads.

Then, things get worse…

Enter Dr. Octo Octavius (Alfred Molina), scientist-par-extraordinaire, who’s devised a method to sustain a controlled fusion reaction, which, he hopes to use for the greater good of mankind. His first demonstration, however, goes horribly wrong, leaving him without a wife, but instead with four mechanical tentacles that have minds of their own, attached to his spine. He is now Doc Ock who terrorizes the residents of New York, without, remarkably, seeming to kill even one of them!

This plot is clearly designed to hit us hard emotionally but, sadly, that’s where it fails the most. The choices that Peter has to make while difficult and heart-wrenching are, nonetheless, predictable. You really don’t feel surprised when he throws away his Spidey costume and you don’t feel surprised when he puts it back on (especially, after Aunt May goes on about how “there’s a hero in everyone of us”). You know that when Peter walks around to the sound of “Raindrops keep falling… ” in the background he’s going to have a good day. You also know that he’s the one who’s going to answer that difficult question in class and that he’s going to make it on time to MJ’s play this time!

In such a scenario, when you know what’s going to happen next, something extra-ordinary has to take place on-screen, sizzling chemistry between the actors, perhaps, or some riveting dialog, something beyond the ordinary, to keep the viewers’ attention from wandering. Spider-man 2 has none of that! The best thing about the movie is J.K. Simmons turn as J. Jonah Jameson, editor of The Daily Bugle who lights up the movie with his unrepressed blow-hardiness. Apart from that, the dialog is pedestrian throughout the movie, the editing, jagged and the chemistry between Tobey Maguire and Kirsten Dunst, zero. The ending is both uneventful and unsatisfying, with some tidbits seen of what’s going to happen in the third movie thrown in. Don’t cross your fingers!


Post a Comment

<< Home