It seems that the movie makers have decided, perhaps in view of climate change, that we need to back summer up to April. And so it is that now the summer movies already start showing up in late April. The first real blockbuster however is Spiderman 2, which I saw in 3D on the first day it opened. In this case, it was worth the extra cash to be able to soar through NYC with good ole Spidie.
Of all the Marvel super heroes, Peter Parker aka Spiderman is perhaps, along with Captain America, the most approachable. I always found his storyline the most approachable, the one I could most empathize with. His story was and is full of pathos, and this current installment of the Marvel Movie franchise plays that side of the story to the hilt.
Not only does the movie open with the back story of what actually happened to Richard and Mary Parker, Peter’s parents, and why they had to leave Peter with Aunt Mae (Sally Fields) and Uncle Ben so suddenly. The movie also gives us a Stan Lee/Steve Ditko version of ‘love’s labors lost’ as well as the story line of Peter/Spidie and Gwen (Emma Stone) is brought to a climax.
Along the way we get an ‘electric’ Jamie Fox playing Electro, and none other that Paul Giamatti as Rhino (who knew?). The movie doesn’t lack for star power, but its real heart and soul is the performance of Andrew Garfield as Peter/ Spiderman which is superb, believable, full of wry wit and emotional energy. It will be difficult for anyone else to play that role for a while. He certainly eclipses Toby McGuire’s previous performances.
There is much to like about this two hour and 22 minute film (though it is a tad too long). First of all, it avoids the usual CG overkill and unending scenes of violence that marred movies like the most recent Superman reboot, especially its ending. It has romance, it has a villain who actually has some likable traits (before he gets all sparky), it has friendship, it has parenting and the search for the truth about one’s parents, and the real action scenes are carefully interspersed throughout the movie. We don’t go from one chase scene to another to another, or one chaotic battle to another to another. In other words, the script actually has a plot.
Now some reviewers have complained there are too many characters or that the plot is unfocused. I disagree on both counts. There are no pointless sub-plots, and if you can’t keep up with five central characters you need to go back to math class. On that theory, no one will be able to figure out X Men which has many more characters. There’s nothing unfocused or overbearing about any of this. Most importantly, the movie is true to the characters of Peter Parker, Gwen Stacy (who was not Peter’s first girl friend), Harry and Norman Osborn, and Aunt Mae.
The pace of the film is good, taking time for character development, relationships to mature or simmer, and for once the Hans Zimmer score is not over-done. Even the special effects of Spidie swinging all over the Big Apple are enjoyable and well done. All in all, this is a first rate popcorn movie, enjoyable for the whole family in various ways. It augurs well for the continuation of this franchise, even if the Stan Lee cameo appearance this time falls flat.