Spider-Man 2 (***1/2)

JJJ vs. PP

In lieu of an actual review, since I’m guessing a movie like Spider-Man isn’t one you need a synopsis and/or thoughtful review for, I’m going to present a pro/con list—reasons why you might like Spider-Man 2 more than you’d expect, and reasons why you might not.

Reasons why you might like Spider-Man 2 more than you’d expect:

  1. The story is written in part by Michael Chabon, who wrote the tremendous novel, The Adventures of Kavalier & Clay (if you’ve read it, you probably know why this is an asset to Spider-Man 2; if you haven’t, you should). It’s hard to sum up in one sentence what happens in TAoK&C, because a lot happens, but one salient detail of which you should be aware is, it’s about comic book artists. And WWII and growing up and friendship and all sorts of good stuff like that, but in its most basic incarnation, comic book artists. It’s also exceptionally well-written, as books go. And the story (i.e., plot) is phenomenal. I’m guessing that these are the three major reasons (to recap: [1] focus on comic book artists, [2] quality of writing, and [3] brilliance of story) why Chabon was brought on board to help write the story for Spider-Man 2, but I could be wrong.
  2. Bruce Campbell has a cameo, with the role of a “snooty usher.” (As it turns out, he had a role in the first Spider-Man, too, but I’d forgotten that. [He was the announcer in the wrestling ring.])
  3. There are a couple surprisingly brilliant comedic moments, some that figure into the movie at large and some that do not, but [almost] all of which are hilarious. The montage with “Raindrops keep falling on my head” as the background music comes immediately to mind, as does an incident involving spiderman waiting in an elevator (guy standing in elevator: “Nice Spidey outfit…” PP: “Thanks.” g.s.i.e.: “Where’d you get it?” PP: “I… made it.” g.s.i.e.: “It looks uncomfortable.” etc.). But there’s more, too.
  4. J.K. Simmons, filling out the role of the sharp-tongued, fast-talking newspaper editor J. Jonah Jameson once again, is pretty much one of the stand-out characters of the film.

Reasons why you might not:

  1. The ending’s predictable. Hell, a lot of the movie is predictable to one extent or another. There are surprises, there are (a few) twists, but on the whole, it’s not the same as seeing a movie like Usual Suspect for the first time. What were you expecting, Spider-Man gets killed 45 minutes into the film?
  2. There’s some goop. Yes, Spider-Man 2 is not without goop. And by “goop,” I mean dangerously trite dialogue that may potentially threaten the very sanity of the viewer. Spider-Man 2 has a story to tell, what story deals with romance and the like in a very circumspect way; seeing as there are a few things for the movie to resolve other than Spidey & MJ (like the total destruction of NY, for instance), it’s not like there was a lot of choice here. It was either 1: goop or 2: cut out some of the action. You would have preferred…?
  3. You hate big-budget action movies on principle and/or you have particular disdain for comic book characters. If either of these statements describes you, I’m not going to lie and say you’ll love the film. You probably wouldn’t.

Rating: [•••½] out of [•••••]