Friday, July 2nd, 2004
Eight Arms To Hold You
It’s been no secret that I am an old-school comic book geek of the highest order. I’ve gotten letters published in comics, I know what a No-Prize is, I have longboxes upon longboxes of comics at home that vex my parents to no end and which I promise to move out of my old room someday. So I’ve been pretty gleeful about the sheer number of comic book movie adaptations that Hollywood has been churning out over the past decade, particulary since many have been good to great, with only a few stinkers. A far cry from the 70s and 80s where anything that drew inspiration from a comic book was almost guaranteed to be atrocious. So you know I’m not being casual when I declare Spider-Man 2 far and away the best comic book adaptation yet. Seriously.
I want to send Sam Raimi presents, I am so happy with what he’s done. The first Spider-Man film was terrific, very true to the spirit of the comic, and somehow the sequel takes it even further. It’s much heavier on the Peter Parker side of Spider-Man’s life, which might seem like it slows the film down some, but I found the fleshing out of his character invaluable – it provides a human dimension that helps give weight to the premise of a guy in a spandex spider costume. It’s funnier, too – Tobey Maguire gets some great comic moments and there’s an all-around sense of fun that the audience really picks up on. And what’s Spider-Man if not fun?
The selection of Doctor Octopus as this installment’s villain was also a wise one. While the Green Goblin is inarguably THE classic Spidey villain, the execution of the character in the first one left a little to be desired, particularly visually. This time around, Alfred Molina eschews Willem Dafoe’s scenery-chewing approach for a much more sociopathic, sinister interpretation, and with great results – though much credit must also be extended to the puppeteers and CGI artists responsible for the tentacles. They actually project sentience and menace of their own, particularly in the scene where an unconscious Doc Ock slaughters an operating room of doctors. And you know how I mentioned before how the film has a lot of non-action Peter Parker-oriented scenes? Well when hero and villain do throw down, it’s spectacular. I can’t imagine two characters better suited to cinematic fight scenes and while there’s little conventional hand-to-hand combat as such, the clash of their respective powers allows for some really amazing visuals.
It’s not just eye-candy though – the film delivers in all departments, weaving together several storylines into a cohesive whole, offering up solid performances from all principals (and giving them an opportunity to act, even!), stunning action sequences and special effects, humour, sadness (especially that final shot), the whole kit and kaboodle. I’m even willing to ignore the fact that it cribbed some of the plot straight out of Superman 2… It helps that conceptually, Spider-Man has never aspired to be more than it is – he was never meant as an allegory like the X-Men or to have great symbolic meaning like Captain America. He was just a guy who happened to have spider powers, trying to get by in the world, and once again Raimi has done the source material proud by succesfully recreating that spirit in the film. I know it sounds like I’m gushing, but I am – rarely have I walked out of any film so completely satisfied, let alone one that I have high expectations for. And anyway, I already admitted my bias for comic book movies so cut me some slack. I cannot wait for the third one, though I do hope they call it a day after that – none of the actors nor Sam Raimi want to return for any films after that, and Tobey Maguire will be 31 when the next one comes out in 2007… But back to more immediate concerns – I was surprised they were willing to telegraph the plot for number 3 so obviously, not that that will diminish my anticipation. I mean, for a guy that’s been around for so many years, he’s got a pretty weak rogue’s gallery after the Goblin and Doctor Octopus. Who’s left? The Rhino? The Sandman? Electro? Hydro-Man? Come on.
Rolling Stone has some information on exactly what to expect from The Wilco Book, out in November. Looks like they realized how popular the Yankee Hotel Foxtrot demos bootleg was and figure they can make some money off the unreleased material this time around.
The Onion AV Club talks to each member of The Kids In The Hall on the occasion of the release of season one on DVD. And here’s the Kids In The Hall audio archive to whet your appetite. From Overeducated and Underemployed.
The Walkmen will be joining Modest Mouse on tour this Summer, but not on the their August 4 Toronto date – they will instead be here the following night for their own show at Lee’s Palace. Does that make sense to anyone else? No, didn’t think so.
The Magnetic Fields tonight! Tonight tonight tonight!
np – Matthew Sweet / 100% Fun