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July 22nd, 2004

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09:23 am - Spiderman 2
I went to see this film yesterday. You've probably already read a bunch of reviews, but here are a few additional thoughts.

My overall verdict - excellent comic book action film. Interesting to consider why this has the conviction, pace and style so lacking in Van Helsing. Spiderman 2 hangs together as a joined-up artefact: the funny bits are funny, the action bits are exciting and the characters are at least sketches of plausible people. I think perhaps the difference is respect for its own genre.

I think Sam Raimi, the director, 'gets' the comic book genre. I used to read Spiderman comics when I was a little girl, and boy that was a long time ago, and I think Raimi has captured two important aspects of those old time comics. Firstly, the way that misfortunes rain down relentlessly on poor old Peter Parker, with his expression becoming more and more hangdog. As unjust accusation piles on unfortunate coincidence, you just know that he'll soon be mooning over the grave of a loved one and - oh yes - there he is.

Secondly his screen composition mirrors the somewhat camp and pulpy composition of comic frames: the vertiginous perspective, the dramatic zoom, the urban rain. It's all there, and lovingly done. I don't know if these two characteristics are the reason the film worked, perhaps they are instead an indication of the respect for the audience which is what really made the film work.

Tobey Maguire was good and continues to be quite sexy, Alfred Molina was very good, Kirsten Dunst demonstrated that it is possible for a young woman to give a worthwhile performance in a Blockbuster film. And if her role had been filled by some plastic chick like Kate Beckinsale the whole film would have been second rate instead of first rate.

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