Wow, talk about varied opinions! After my extended review of SPIDER-MAN 2 a couple of weeks back, I got people agreeing with me, people disagreeing with me, people kinda disagreeing with me, and people strongly disagreeing with me. (I even got one that seemed to come from an alternate universe where people can't write in English, but that one I'm including at the end of this column, just for fun.) Because there were so many responses, I'm devoting this week's column to airing the responses of those who either agreed or mostly agreed with me, and then next week the ones who did not agree get the floor. Here's what some of you had to say:
Raymond Low writes, "I enjoyed your comments about SPIDER-MAN 2...While I don't agree with all your points, you certainly presented some valid arguments. I'm surprised you didn't mention two (what I thought were glaring) mistakes in the film: (1) Unmasked Peter Parker/Spider-Man asks Harry Osborn where he can find Doc Ock and rescue MJ. The question is: How would Harry know? Doc never told him where he was hiding out. I guess we have to assume Doc told Harry off screen; and (2) Harry wants Spider-man dead and tells Doc Ock to capture him. Find Peter Parker and from him Doc can locate Spidey. 'But don't hurt Peter!' says Harry. So what does Doc do? He throws a car through the window at Peter and MJ at a trajectory that would have surely killed the two of them if not for Peter's Spider-Sense and reflexes (which should have given Doc food for thought). Otherwise, I thought the film was extremely entertaining -- the train load of passengers who know what Spidey looks like notwithstanding."
Chris Canti felt more strongly about it: "After the incredible over hyping of this movie and then seeing it and after that finally getting a chance to let it sink in, I have to say that I completely agree with you. Some cheesy dialogue, weak motivation for Doc Ock and all the rest. Needless to say I enjoyed the first better (just as I did with SHREK). This is coming from a guy who loves comic movies and also hates them when they don't get translated to the screen with all their potential. That being said the only thing I would like to add to your assessment is that Doc Ock and Harry never got some of the screen time, and in Octavius' case, development they deserved. We were too busy watching Peter be miserable. Ok, we get the point, tell us some more about the new guy. Personally I find that sequels in a comic movie really tend to revolve around the villain. We know the hero, and now its our chance to see that villain develop. In Spider-Man this is huge. He has a tremendous gallery of villains that deserve equally as much time as the hero. I think we saw this with the goblin, but unfortunately not so much with Ock."
David Lange had something of a change of heart after reading the column: "As an unabashed fan of SPIDER-MAN 1 & 2, I was thoroughly prepared to disagree with everything you were going to criticize about the movie. However, I actually found myself agreeing with you on most points. Like you, I find the critiques of the CGI irrelevant. And as a longtime fan of the printed SPIDER-MAN, I do understand that film is a different medium than comics and some things must be dropped or rearranged in order to work on the screen. The film is in its own world, just as ULTIMATE SPIDER-MAN is in its own world, as AMAZING SPIDER-MAN exists in its own world, as the [MARVEL AGE] SPIDER-MAN exists in its own world, etc., etc. Almost 40 years of history cannot be crammed into a 2 hour movie. The various creators must manipulate some things to fit the medium they are working in. The trick is to remain true to the spirit of the comic or the character. It's here where I think there is a separation between a good comic book movie and a bad one. This is where I think most of the BATMAN films have gone wrong. Not whether it was Gwen Stacy or MJ on the bridge or whether Peter created his web shooters rather than having them be organic. What is important is whether or not these movies feel like a Spider-Man story. I believe they do. Having said that, I do agree with you that the movie does need Spider-Man's witty banter amped up. Big time. I also agree that there does seem to be a lack of "sparks" between MJ & Peter. I'm not feeling the yearning these two characters are supposed to have for each other. Although I think the acting on the whole is good.
"Your remarks regarding his mask coming off in front of the train crowd rang true.
Jason B. Leggett's response was a bit more vitriolic (towards the movie, that is): "I really liked your review on SPIDEY 2 .I'm glad to see that there is someone out there right now just being honest and reasonable....it just seems that everyone is worshiping at the foot of this film and it just getting a little sickening... I really enjoyed the film and thought it had some really great parts and can't wait till it hits DVD, but I'm not apparently as infatuated with it as most of mass America." Wait a minute, Jason films have feet?
Eddie Chan writes, "I was quite relieved to read your column. After reading all the glowing reviews online, I was quite let down by the movie. It was not a bad film, but it was certainly not the best comic book movie of all time (which is BATMAN, in my opinion). The positives from the movie were the action scenes, the humour ('My back! My back!') and, as you pointed out, the quality of the plot. Also, the train scene was ok, even though the kids finding the mask again was stretching it a bit far. The negatives was definitely the acting, the characterization, the drawn out 'dramatic' scenes and the length of the movie. Tobey Maguire looks as if he is staring at an object off screen, muttering out his lines. And he certainly is a pale imitation of the print Peter Parker. Peter Parker is more energetic and passionate - yes, more angry.
"And what more can we say of Kirstin Dunst's Mary Jane? She lacks the sexiness, the flare and the legs! Finally, although most people might have liked it, I found the dramatic scenes (eg. Peter confessing his role in Ben's death) dull and boring. SPIDER-MAN 2 might be a box office smash hit and it is indeed a good film, but it's not great - definitely not perfect."
Kendall Pride writes, "I agree with you on almost every point you made in regards to SPIDER-MAN 2. I enjoyed the movie, just not as much as the rest of the country seems to. There are a few things that really bothered me, in addition to what you already covered: Is it just me, or does that plot seem to follow the outline of the first film? Peter discovers his powers again, mimicking when he first finds that he has them in the first movie, MJ getting kidnapped, although I expect this will happen in every Spidey movie, and the building on fire scene. I was really expecting Doc Ock to be the cause of the fire in an attempt to get to Spider-Man, as the Green Goblin did in part 1. I was ready to leave the theatre because I thought the film makers were insulting my intelligence. Thank God Doc Ock had nothing to do with that fire.
"And why does Peter lose his powers? Because he doubts himself? Please correct me if I'm wrong, but I do not really recall this as the reason for Peter losing his powers. What good are super powers if they can go at any second?
"Like I said before, I really did enjoy the movie, but sometimes I thought I was watching a remake of SPIDER-MAN Part 1, seeing as how remakes are so popular these days. Just a couple of thoughts."
Neil Steen writes, "Finally, someone else who isn't lauding this painfully uneven movie! I desperately wanted to like this movie. Check that: to love this movie! I went in with all sorts of high expectations, and boy was I let down. Don't get me wrong: there were parts of this movie that
"pete" brings up a good point: "Admittedly I am a big Sam Raimi fan & one of the few who gets a kick outta the inside jokes he slips in (my favorite being the hand/chainsaw part of the surgery scene), but I'm gonna have to fuel your fire on this one a bit & fess up that Ted was actually responsible for the 'My back! My back!' scene you referenced. At least there's no Jar-Jar equivalent in this series of movies." Thank God for that...though that Asian woman came close...
David Thurlow had several things to say: "Read your words re: SPIDER-MAN 2 and those of the angst ridden 'Kev'. Thought I'd add a cent or two. One point about the whole train scene identity fiasco: actors cannot act with much subtlety or intensity when they are wearing a full face, utterly lifeless mask. So a balance has to struck between mask on/mask off time during the hero stuff. Raimi has a tough problem to deal with with that damn costume [in that it] is so familiar that he really can't alter it much. The mask has to come off frequently or people just won't be able to empathize with the character. I figure at least Raimi is dealing with part of the obvious result...which is that people will see his face. (In defense of Tobey McGuire: 'Kev', you can't not be wooden trying to act in that Spider-Man outfit.) [And] re: 'Kev''s remarks about the film being overacted etc. like the comics of the 70's...aw, come on. Comics are still overblown and simplistic in lots of ways. It's just that a lot of them are good, anyway.
"But the intelligent arms...Yeah, they annoyed me and seemed less than needed. On the other hand, my girlfriend, like most people who'll see the movie, doesn't read Spider-Man, and she seemed fine with it. Go figure.
"As for Mary Jane and Peter and chemistry...Eh, I thought it was ok. But I wanted to know more about that woman across the hall from Pete. She seemed so much more interesting that MJ. (That's not a slight toward Kirsten Dunst, by the way, just the character) My girlfriend liked her better, too. We made up all kinds of additional plot for her. I wonder what's on the cutting room floor. I liked your point about Pete's anger being missing from the McGuire version, though. I'd not thought of it, but now that you mention it, it is missing. I've not been really into Tobey McGuire as Peter, anyway. Honestly, he seems a little too geeky and mild. Pete isn't Clark Kent, but Tobey plays him that way.
"But ya know, it's a movie. Two hours of stuff based on about 2000 comic stories written over decades of cultural change. So let's not pick at it too much. I doubt I could really do better."
Darren Roberts writes, "I'm glad to have the opportunity to voice my opinion about the SPIDER-MAN 2 movie. Now as someone who has been reading Spider Man comics since the 70s, AMAZING SPIDER-MAN, PETER PARKER, THE SPECTACULAR SPIDER MAN, MARVEL TEAM-UP, early reprints, etc., I feel that I have a great feel for the character's world. I did love the action scenes. The 'Spider-Man' scenes were great and looked and felt like some of the great Spidey/Doc Ock fights. I do agree that the lack of witty banter was annoying, but that's just a symptom of the main problem, which is this: I don't know who Tobey Maguire thought he was playing, but that was not Peter Parker on the screen. In the bank scene, when Peter ran off and left Aunt May in danger, I started freaking out and wanted to yell BULL S*#@T!!! at the top of my lungs. There's no way in hell Peter Parker would have ever ran to a fight without first getting Aunt May to safety. It never would have happened. In the comics, Peter Parker wasn't a wuss. Everyone thought he was a wuss and treated him like a wuss, but despite what others thought he tried to work through his awkwardness. Even before he got his powers back in AMAZING FANTASY he sheepishly asked a girl out. He got turned down, but he did ask her out. And after he got his powers, Peter Parker could get a date (maybe not with the girl of his choice), but due to his greater responsibilities, keeping the date was the problem. When Tobey dropped his glasses at the end of the movie, I breathed a sigh of relief and hoped that in the next movie we would have a better portrayal of Spidey. But with Tobey's ultrageekyness, I'm not holding my breath."
"J.J. from Philley" decided to write a book! "Just figured I'd write to put in my two cents about the movie. I must agree with you on most of the points you made. It took me three times watching the movie before I could really get a handle on exactly how I felt about the movie. Overall, I enjoyed it, am looking forward to the DVD and would see it again with friends. That being said, it is obviously not a perfect movie. Since I feel you did a fine job in summing up many of the things that worked, let me comment on your thoughts about what didn't work.
"1) and 2)- The Peter/MJ, Tobey/Kirsten dynamic.- The Peter and MJ of the movies is
"3) The Train Scene- Well, you're right again. We loved the train scene and enjoyed the thought of Peter learning not everyone in NY hates his guts. But everyone on the train seeing Spidey without the mask and being expected to keep silent ticked us off too. I don't think JJJ should learn of this in the future. Maybe the wink from one of the train people idea would be funny. But I think they should just move past this plot point. While we mention disappointment in Spidey's identity being revealed, let me mention my irritation that he reveals his identity to Ock. It's probably not a great idea to reveal your identity to a guy who has kidnapped your aunt, your girlfriend, and has nearly blown up most of NY, especially after you've just trashed him. Surely a brilliant kid like Pete could come up with another way to get the information he needed to stop the machine. I also felt a little funny about the revelation to Harry. I could accept it because Harry's finding out will move things along for future movies. But didn't you expect some twist like Pete to play it off or break lose from those little wires just before being unmasked? And do you really tell your friend who is obsessed with killing Spider-Man 'There are more important things going on than you and I' and leave just like that? Surely he won't reveal your identity or worse yet seek revenge. It will be interesting to see how the next movie deals with this plot point.
"4) The Goofy bits- I have to disagree here. I thought the Asian lady bit was pretty funny. After the fans complained about not having the Ramones cover of the Spider-Man theme in the original movie, I thought that was a pretty funny way to get it in the movie. Her second song may have been a stretch, but it wasn't so bad. I laughed at the 'my back, my back' scene, too, and even Bruce Campbell. With all of Peter's angst they needed to lighten up the movie. Of course, they could have done some of that with Spidey cracking wise during a battle more...
"All in all, the film works. As a long-time fan of old Web-Head, I wasn't thoroughly satisfied but satisfied enough not to let the flaws turn me off to what was an enjoyable movie."
Next week I'll give the floor over to others who disagreed with me on the movie the intelligent ones, that is, except for one ranting letter I just couldn't resist including to show you what I go through from time to time but if you still would like to get in on the discussion, send your thoughts to me via the web site contact address here or to me directly. Do bear in mind, though, that it may be a while before they appear in the column, if they appear at all I'm going on vacation for a few weeks, so this column is being written way ahead of time. And remember, if you should happen to make reference to a title of a comic series please use CAPS when giving the title. I do the HTML coding on this column every week, and having the titles in caps already makes my life much easier. Finally, as always, don't forget our discussion boards! Now, here's this week's listings:
DC rolls out LOONEY TUNES #117 for the little ones, while for the bigger kids there's JUSTICE LEAGUE ADVENTURES #34, in which some villain is gathering objects like a bullet from the alley where Batman's parents died and a piece of Superman's rocketship. Since it's a kids comic, he won't be getting anything interesting, like Wonder Woman's bra thingee...
Alan Moore fans can now pick up a collection of one of the titles that got him this year's Eisner Award for Best Writer as ABC releases the THE LEAGUE OF EXTRAORDINARY GENTLEMEN VOL. 2 trade paperback for $14.95.
And speaking of other comics deserving Eisners just kidding! - ALPHA FLIGHT #6 escapes onto your shelves this week, as well. (Just out of fairness, would anyone who's both reading and enjoying this series let me know and let me know why? I can't fathom it myself, obviously.
You know there's some huge whopping crossover event around the corner whenever DC releases something like BATMAN: THE 12-CENT ADVENTURE, and sure enough, it's called WAR GAMES. Sigh. Devin Grayson script or no, I think I'll wait for the trade. There's also DETECTIVE COMICS #797, featuring (what else?) part one of aforementioned crossover event; BATMAN/CATWOMAN: TRAIL OF THE GUN #1 (of 2), a mini-mini which has absolutely nothing to do with the current CATWOMAN storyline, which may disappoint many; BIRDS OF PREY #71, written by the prolific (and busy!) Gail Simone; and SCRATCH #3 (of 5), in which Batman's canine problems continue (no, not his teeth).
Looks like Cap and Wanda are getting it on in CAPTAIN AMERICA & THE FALCON #6! Whoo hoo! But you shouldn't judge a book by its cover, and as this one is part of "Avengers Disassembled," it's hard to say what's really up. By the way, if you want to see how this series began, pick up the CAPTAIN AMERICA & THE FALCON VOL. 1: TWO AMERICAS trade paperback for $9.99, collecting #s 1-4. Hardly makes it worth buying individual issues any more, does it?
On the other hand, you could just read ENGINEHEAD #5 (of 8). Something about terrorists and a bomb this time. Sounds riveting (no pun intended).
The JLA comes to pay Jason a visit, and it's not just as part of their annual recruitment drive, in FIRESTORM #4. Uh-oh busted!
Speaking of busted, that teenager with super powers who was sentenced to prison? Still there. HARD TIME #7 is out this week, obviously.
Look at the goodies from Image! There's the ARIA VOL 3: USES OF ENCHANTMENT trade paperback for $14.95; the CLOUDBURST one-shot; DARKNESS #13; FORSAKEN #1; the TOMMYSAURUS REX graphic novel for $10.95; and WATERLOO SUNSET #1! I don't know what any of these are, mind you, but damn, don't they sound good, at least?
A concept that's working better on paper that I'd originally given it credit for is JUSTICE LEAGUE ELITE, issue #2 of which is out this week. Might be worth a shot.
The LEGION: FOUNDATIONS trade paperback introduces Superboy back into the team (different Superboy, naturally) in material from THE LEGION #25-30 and THE LEGION SECRET FILES 2003 for $19.95
Have there really been enough changes in the Hulk's world to warrant the release of the OFFICIAL HANDBOOK OF THE MARVEL UNIVERSE: HULK 2004 #1 for $3.99? Guess so. And even if there haven't been, Marvel's doing it, anyway.
Things get a little antsy (sorry, different insect) in a SPIDER-GIRL #77 story titled, appropriately enough, "Betrayed!" Good news is, May's still in the black costume! I could endure anything for that even ALPHA FLIGHT!
It's listed as an X-Book on some sites, but STARJAMMERS has about as much in common with the other X-titles as...well, the new ALPHA FLIGHT has with the classic John Byrne series (before his head got big enough to house a family of four, of course). Issue #3 is worth reading exactly for that reason, though.
Since Mr. Majestic can't get back to the Wildstorm Universe (probably because, as we all know, there are no other universes in the DCU...except the one in the EARTH 2 hardback...and wherever the Marvel characters came from in JLA/AVENGERS...oh, forget it), Dan Abnett & Andy Lanning keep him busy in MAJESTIC #1 (of 4). Meanwhile, you can re-experience Superman's confusing return to Krypton in the SUPERMAN: GODFALL hardcover, collecting ACTION COMICS #812-813, ADVENTURES OF SUPERMAN #625-626, and SUPERMAN #202-203 for $19.95. Bargain, huh?
Oh, look! Thor's under Superman again! Kidding, kidding...Anyway, Ragnarok continues (again) in THOR #83, while the THOR VOL. 6: GODS & MEN trade paperback collects all that mess about his son betraying him and yadda yadda yadda in THOR #75-79 for $13.99. Maybe that's a bargain, too.
From Wildstorm this week, it's a whole bag of kitty litter as we get not only THUNDERCATS: ENEMY'S PRIDE #3 (of 5) but also WILDCATS VERSION 3.0 #24 and the WILDCATS/CYBERFORCE: KILLER INSTINCT trade paperback for $14.95. Damn, that's a lot of Kibbles and Bits ...
Gambit returns in ULTIMATE X-MEN #50, though whether he's in the ULTIMATE X-MEN VOL. 8: NEW MUTANTS trade paperback ($12.99), collecting ULTIMATE X-MEN #40-45, I just don't know. Buy it and tell me, won't you? Meanwhile, I'll be too busy reading Warren Ellis' excellent new ULTIMATE NIGHTMARE #1 (of 5), as well as ULTIMATE SPIDER-MAN #63, featuring Carnage and Ben Reilly. Yeah, I know, it sounds like it's a major suckfest, but it's Brian Michael Bendis how could it be?
And finally, the EXILES #50 anniversary issue brings them head to head with the Brotherhood of Evil Mutants; the NEW X-MEN VOL. 3 hardcover collects Grant Morrison's confusing last few storylines on that series in NEW X-MEN #142-154 for $24.99; Chris Claremont ends "The End of History" in UNCANNY X-MEN #447, while simultaneously bringing us another of those damn "End" epics with X-MEN: THE END - BOOK ONE: DREAMERS & DEMONS #1 (of 6); X-MEN UNLIMITED #4 features that rarest of mutant, the X-Men stand-alone story; and Rob Liefeld and Fabian Nicieza desperately try to bring back the 90s (though why would they?) with (you guessed it) X-FORCE #1. As the good Doctor would say, "Oh, no, not again...!"
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