Family-Friendly "Spider-Man 2" Delights and Intrigues
- Friday, July 02, 2004
“It’s got to be hard not to know who you are,” a character says, urging us to ponder this. “Your soul disappears.”
Confronted with evil and injustice, Peter wants to do what is right, but like regular guys, he feels sorely inadequate. As justice crumbles and truth decays, men long to be good and noble. Like Peter, they might well have the courage to rescue a child from a burning building, but must then watch, helpless, as another person dies in that same fire. How overwhelming and discouraging this world is without super powers! Is it a wonder that so many become police officers, fire fighters and soldiers? And how grateful we are for these modern-day super heroes, who risk their lives, again and again. But what about those who are not? How can they conquer the daunting, dangerous world?
Even the great Spider-Man has flaws, however. Though he fights evil, he is desperately lonely, and his mask only contributes to his isolation. But the filmmakers strip Spidey of that mask and ask us to think about the consequences. What that means, of course, is true intimacy for Peter – something he, like many men, has shied away from in the name of “responsibility.” Enter woman, who pries man away from his all-consuming work, a consequence of The Fall, and invites him to love and be loved.
Even the evil Octavius understands this, because he says, “If you keep something as complicated as love stored up, it will make you sick inside.” But the point is most movingly demonstrated in a beautiful scene where Mary Jane utters a line that will no doubt be long remembered in film history: “Isn’t it time someone saved your life?”
It doesn’t get much better than this, folks.
The film makes us laugh, several times over (watch for a Chinese lady aka William Hung singing “Spider-Man”) and the music is great. Also, instead of its CGI-saturated original, “Spider-Man 2” uses digital graphics to enhance the film, not carry it. And, the characters all play it straight. There’s no cinematic “winking” at the camera, to tell us that they know it’s really a cartoon. The result is a fabulous job, especially Maguire, whose boyish confusion and self-doubt play perfectly into the hands of the devilish but believable Molina.
One caution: although the language and sexuality are mild, making the film suitable for older children, the violence is graphic and, at times, disturbing. It’s comic-book brutality, with its requisite property destruction and slams against brick walls (no blood or visible injuries, though). Combined with the soaring but scary music, it is not appropriate for younger children, who were crying and had to be carried out when I screened the film.
Otherwise, “Spider-Man 2” will delight the entire family. It’s a great guy’s night out, a fun date movie and, surprisingly, maybe even one for the girls. After all, the world has yet to figure out what men are really feeling.
• = Mild •• = Average ••• = Heavy •••• = Extreme
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