Unlike most people, I actually liked the first Spider-Man movie better than the second one. The reason is mostly that the formula was still fresh then. Also, other people might have liked Doctor Octopus better, but I thought the Green Goblin was pretty cool. I mean he has a sweet glider and throws a variety of pumpkin bombs that can blow shit up and shoot boomerang knife thingies or disintegrate people. By comparison Doc Ock was just a fat guy with four robot arms. Lame.
And really there are a couple of great scenes in the first film the other two never topped. First was obviously the upside-down kiss in the rain. That was just pure awesome. (Even though according to an article I read on the Geek Twins blog, Tobey Maguire could not breathe with all the water running into his nose and was basically getting mouth-to-mouth from Kristen Dunst while they filmed that.) You know if you had Spidey powers you would do that after you rescued a hot girl in an alley. Incidentally in my book the Scarlet Knight rescues someone from an alley in the rain. But it's not a hot chick--unless you're a chubby chaser--and they don't kiss. I'm just saying. The second thing was the whole end of the fight between Spidey and the Goblin when they get into that abandoned building. What I liked about that is Spidey actually gets the crap beat out of him. By the end his costume is torn up and he's bleeding and stuff. Which is always good because when the hero takes some punishment but keeps going then they seem more heroic. I kept that in mind when I wrote the final fight between the Scarlet Knight and Black Dragoon in my book. By the end both characters have suffered some damage, which I think makes it a lot more dramatic. The problem with some superhero movies (like the recent Batman ones for instance) is the villain isn't really capable of going toe-to-toe with the hero, which makes the outcome of the fight seem hardly in doubt. Which incidentally is a problem with my book's sequel.
Of course it wasn't a perfect film. The effects were kind of lame, especially when he's jumping between buildings and such. But it was 2002 so what do you want? Whenever the Goblin and Spidey talked in costume it looked cheesy because neither really had a mouth on their costume. It made me think of those "Power Rangers" shows where they used footage from the Japanese show when they were in their Ranger costumes and just redubbed it. I also hated the part where the Goblin takes Mary Jane hostage and offers the sadistic choice on whether to save her or a carload of other people. I didn't really like that in "The Dark Knight" or "Batman Forever" either because you know what always happens: the hero saves both. Compounding that was the part where all these New Yorkers on the bridge come to Spidey's assistance by throwing stuff at the Goblin. Since this was less than a year after 9/11 it seemed as if it had been added in as some kind of patriotic statement. Look, I love America, but I didn't pay $8 to watch Joe the Plumber fight the Green Goblin. And really if you saw the Green Goblin on a bridge would you throw a wrench at him? I'd be squatting in a corner making a mess in my pants. I would have been annoyed had the movie ended at that point, but once it got back to the Goblin vs. Spidey I was happy.
As for the second one, it was a well-crafted movie. It was nice they plumbed a little more of the problems associated with being a superhero, especially one who isn't a billionaire playboy. That was definitely something I tried to work into my book and the sequels.
The big problem though was they brought up all this stuff about him wanting to quit and so forth, but then they resolved it in such an unsatisfactory fashion: Doc Ock kidnaps Mary Jane and Peter becomes Spidey again to save her. Yawn. It really annoyed me when I thought about that later because why build up this whole angle of him having to choose and then create this scenario that forces his hand? He didn't really choose anything then except to save his whiny girlfriend from being killed.
On top of that they reused a lot of the same formula. The bad guy sets up a sadistic choice between Mary Jane and a bunch of ordinary people (in a train instead of a cable car), New Yorkers rush to Spidey's aid (and in the process he reveals himself to half of Manhattan; he really ought to just go around handing out business cards that say "Peter Parker: Spider-Man" and hire himself out for parties and bar mitzvahs or erotic dancing), Spidey ends up saving both the train and then later Mary Jane. Huzzah. So really to me the last third or so just fell flat. The whole movie ended up being a bridge to nowhere, or a bridge to where we were last movie. Not to mention the cheesy "Raindrops Falling on My Head" dance number and the utterly pointless chocolate cake scene where the landlord's daughter offers Peter chocolate cake and we sit there watching them eat it...why? To drive up concessions? That would be a good point to use the can though.
As for the third one, it had some potential. If they had just focused on the Sandman guy it probably would have worked out. But someone (I assume studio assholes) had to make them wedge Venom into the plot too. Then they fell back on the same formula in the first two movies: bad guys kidnap Mary Jane to draw Spidey out. Just like the second one a bad guy (or former bad guy) sacrifices himself to save the day. I guess from the reviews of the new one they actually let the girl DO something at the end instead of just scream a lot. That's probably an improvement. And somehow Peter Parker was even dorkier when he was trying to act like a badass.
There was one great moment in the movie, where just after he becomes a pile of sand the Sandman tries to grab the picture of his daughter but he can't get his fingers to solidify. That part was sad, which is why I think if they'd just focused on the Sandman it would have worked better. As it was there was just too much stuff going on so it never got the chance to add up to much.
Anyway, besides what I mentioned before, I pilfered a couple other things from the Spidey movies, perhaps unconsciously. First off is that our hero Emma is a science nerd like Peter Parker. She's also an orphan (though that was also in Batman too) and has a sick aunt she lived with. And if you look at this picture of her, doesn't she look like a combination of Peter and Mary Jane? If they had a daughter this is what she'd look like, right?
|Peter Parker & Mary Jane Watson's illegitimate daughter?|