Editorial by John Ziegler

My Disappointment With Spiderman 2

7/5/2004

My Disappointment with Spiderman 2

It appears that Spiderman 2 is going to be the blockbuster hit of the summer. Usually a movie that is designed to appeal to the masses, and which relies on special effects, does not inspire much hope or expectation among those of us who still think that a plot is an integral part to making an excellent film. But since the reviews of 'Spiderman 2' were SO good, I allowed myself to think that this movie might be the exception. I was fooled.

Make no mistake, the special effects are indeed spectacular and Tobey McGuire plays the title role of the vulnerable superhero about as well as could be expected. There are even a couple of humorous and touching moments in the story, but they are few and far between. Other than that, there is not much to get excited about and plenty that left me puzzled.

The aspect of the movie that disappointed me the most was the debut of a new villain, 'Doc Oct,' which many critics claimed belonged among the all-time great film bad guys of all time. I strongly disagree with this characterization.

First of all, there is no explanation provided for why 'Doc Oct' and his mechanical arms become evil at all. While the comic book supposedly provides enlightenment on this issue, the movie pretty much just skips it. Also, the character seems simultaneously not particularly scary and yet inexplicably invulnerable to attacks that should have knocked the pudgy professor out cold.

Then is the matter of why he and Spiderman even bother to clash in the first place. The reason that the 'Doc' even cares about Spiderman is because the owner of the material he needs for his fusion experiment makes a deal with him that he will give it to him if he delivers Spiderman. But there was NO reason for the 'Doc' to do ANYTHING that Peter Parker's friend told him to.

Despite not having ANY incentive to bother with getting a hold of Spiderman, 'Doc' goes after Peter Parker as his source of information as how to find the suddenly retired superhero. But how does one explain (other than as an excuse for a cool special effect and Peter saving his girlfriend's life) that 'Doc' announces his presence by tossing a car through the window where Peter and his love interest are sitting. Putting him in certain peril is kind of a strange an unnecessary way to track down the guy you need for information, don't you think?

As for Spiderman himself, I love the idea of a vulnerable and imperfect superhero consumed with self-doubt. However, the source of Spiderman's susceptibility was an inconsistent and contrived mystery. Every superhero must at some point lose at least some of his/her powers for the story to be interesting, but Spiderman lost his sporadically and without explanation. Further confusing the matter of his lost powers was that when he lost them he was still for some reason able to easily endure falls that would have killed Wily Coyote.

I am sure that there are those who will say that Spiderman lost his powers because he was lovesick and that his aliment was mental and due to a lack of confidence. Well, if that was the case, then why did have his powers one second, lose them the next and then get them back, seemingly inexplicably? Or, if his power outage was really due to a lack of fortitude, why does he jump off a building certain that he was 'back' only to come crashing (again just complaining about a bad back) down to earth?

Also, how/why is that Parker can't figure out a way to get into a closed theater to see his would be girlfriend perform in a play and yet can somehow get into the office of the newspaper editor to get his Spidey outfit back without any of the people in the room even knowing he was there?

As for the romance, I thought it was okay. Kristen Dunst didn't look as great as she has in the past and we aren't really given much a reason for her to be in love with a guy that appears for all the world to be a complete loser. But even a hardhearted cynic like myself was rooting for Spiderman to finally use his web for something better than catching crooks.

Obviously, with any action movie a certain amount of dramatic license must be granted by the viewer. I get that. However, I draw the line when it comes with things that are inconsistent with other elements of the movie or that don't jive with the realities of human behavior. In 'Spiderman 2' there are many scenes where I felt that line was crossed. That is hardly new or different for a Hollywood movie calculated for summer success, but I had hoped for better. I should have known not to expect so much.

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