Spider-Man 2

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By Mark Ramsey | 2004/06/30

Out of the usually murky recesses of Hollywood’s creative crypt comes what is probably the best comic book movie ever made and certainly one of the best movies of the year.

spiderman2_darkglasses.jpgNo Brad Pitt in a skirt, just Tobey Maguire in tights, and Alfred Molina showing more chest hair than anyone with a bucket of popcorn and a weak stomach should be permitted to see.

Kudos to director Sam Raimi. Sing along with me:

Sam Raimi, Sam Raimi

Movie auteur and fan Raimi.

Spins a tale, any size,

Even makes James Franco look wise

Look Out! Here comes that Sam Raimi.

Is he strong? Listen bud,

Spider-Man couldn’t chew his cud.

Can he swing from a thread

Sure! He made Evil Dead!

Hey, there

There goes that Sam Raimi.

In the chill of night

At the scene of a crime

Sam’s asleep on a grate

Down at Sunset and Vine

Sam Raimi, Sam Raimi

Friendly neighborhood ham Raimi

Wealth and fame

He’s accrued

Sans that Hollywood attitude

To wit, no crappy Hulk-like Ang-up

Whenever there’s a hang up

You’ll find that Sam Raimi.

Awards come and go, Sam, but tribute songs…that’s something special.

The merchandising frenzy for Spider-Man 2 is already in full swing. The Hilton group is giving away a Spider-Man camera to children staying at some of its hotels. “It will not be equipped with night-vision” noted spokesperson Paris Hilton, “and if you photograph anything spraying from a wrist, make sure it’s a web.”

Can you believe Kirsten Dunst still has a thing for Tobey Maguire – even after two years of invertus smoochus interruptus? It’s not easy falling in love with the eighth world wonder, or so the radio keeps telling me.

Kirsten is starring in a Broadway play, The Importance of Being Earnest, which most of the Spider-Man audience will remember as a one-time Jim Varney vehicle. But Tobey can’t make the curtain – he’s too busy saving the city from the kind of small time hoodlums who last populated New York in 1950. No gangs. No drug wars. Just bank robbers and high speed chasers. Ah, the good old days!

spiderman2_foremangrill.jpgTobey visits with genius scientist Alfred Molina: His goal is to initiate and sustain fusion using sympathetic harmonic reinforcement. Does that mean he aims to “whistle a happy tune,” or is he trying to create a new energy source? Well, create one, he does: It’s an itsy bitsy sun that floats over the room and provides about enough energy to power a healthy tan.

“The power of the sun in the palm of my hand,” Molina marvels, and a future Microsoft slogan is born.

To “contain” the reaction, Molina explains, he needs to attach metal arms to his spine. New Yorkers, accustomed to body piercing and chips on their shoulders, never questioned what metallic spine grafts could possibly have to do with fusion containment, unless containment requires shifting your center of gravity six feet behind your body.

Naturally, fusion yields to confusion. When one meddles with the powers of nature and tragedy strikes, one’s protective chip is fried and one’s octopus arms take over one’s brain for diabolical misdeeds. And as every scientist knows, when an experiment fails spectacularly you must repeat it on a much bigger scale and in exactly the same way!

With his four enormous metallic limbs, “Doc Ock” resembles a nefarious coffee table. And if you’ve ever had a piece of living room furniture climb the exterior of a high-rise you know what terror is.

Sing it: “If I had a coaster, ya ha deedle deedle, bubba bubba deedle deedle dum.”

As the machine arms penetrate deeper into Molina’s brain, his outfits show progressively more chest, thus provoking progressively more fear, loathing, and calls for punitive federal legislation.

CGI figures large in this movie, of course, and it’s fine. But like a one-night stand it’s best when viewed in the dark through some beer goggles. Plenty of video game quality tussling. When Spidey and “Doc Ock” fight one can picture Tobey and Molina in a comfortable looping session, grunting and groaning between sips of a short decaf soy cappuccino and a venti latté.

Spider-Man 2 is a great way for quality-deprived comic book movie fans to experience a real film. It’s a flick that should send poseurs like Van Helsing straight to video with its cinematic tail between its legs.

Spidey 2 more than heroes and villains. It’s about purpose and sacrifice, dreams and commitments, choice and responsibility, risk and reward, love and identity.

It’s a rich feast of conflict and virtue and a better teacher than most of its students will ever get.


Photos Copyright ©2004 Columbia Pictures

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