Spider-Man 2 A Second Look

In my first review of Spider-Man 2, I gave it a positive notice but had a few reservations about it’s look. I also promised to see it and review it again–in a couple of weeks. Well, you know the one about good intentions.

Upon re-reading my review, (which I wrote in July, if you want to find it) I find that I was most concerned about the film’s glossy look. My dream is to see a gritty superhero film, one that exlores the logistics of being a costumed crimefighter. I want to see the guy who customizes the Batmobile, to know what happens when Batman is seriously injured. How does Spider-Man fix his torn costumes? Where does he stash his street clothes when he rushes to save someone? I want grit, realism and attitude. You get it in abundance in many of the comics and the animated TV shows. Why not in movies?

I suspect it will come someday, as filmmakers get used to the idea of superheroes and decide they want to explore the concept. This could happen as early as next year when Batman Begins comes out.

Spider-Man 2 is certainly not the movie I’m yearning for. But it is a great film in its own right. Upon second viewing, I was again struck by Raimi’s bold decision to slow down the pace so we could get to know the characters. Consequently, we are willing to care about them through the most bizarre circumstances. The situations may be extreme, but the emotions are real. Toby Maguire and Kirsten Dunst bring Peter Parker and Mary Jane Watson to glorious life. If their relationship isn’t exatly like the comic books (I still think Peter being torn between Gwen Stacy, the girl next door, and party girl Mary Jane is a fascinating theme) it works for the movie.

So how has my assessment changed upon a second viewing? I came to it with fewer expectations, ready to judge it for what it is, not what I want it to be and I liked it better. The realism of the characters made up for the glossiness of the art direction. But I still think X-Men 2 is the best superhero movie ever made so far, though by not as wide a margin as before.

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