Viv and I, along with all the rest of the country, dropped into our friendly neighborhood multiplex this weekend to see “Spider-Man”.
My viewing experience bears out the reviews I’d noted; Toby Maguire is perfectly cast, the story was deftly and wittily handled, Dafoe’s usually better than this, the digital FX were somehow not as good as they should have been (Dude! Ida no how to fix ’em! They just were, well, to computery or something!).
The film suceeds in actually translating the archetypal, finely balanced quality of Silver Age Marvel books in such a way that the story is not resolved at the expense of a major ongoing plot point, which has been a modus operandi of pretty much all superhero comics movies to date.
An additional suprise of the film was the effect of director Sam Raimi’s insistence on using the genuine New York metropolitan area as his setting. In essence, New Yoork, as it does in many great films set in the city, becomes a major supporting character.
However, the emotional force that this character delivers doesn’t come from the filme itself, but from the events of 9/11. All through the flm I felt like I was seeing a dead relative, alive again. Now, I know NYC didn’t die on 9/11, but of course everyone that watched the events of that day has been affected by it one way or another.
The filmakers decided to reshoot the ending, which involved the WTC in a crucial manner, and this delayed release of the film. Thus, the film has no shot in which the towers appear, and no reference to the fall of the towers, either, which is odd, if understandable.
Scenes of parts of a building in the edge of Times Square exploding and falling into the street also had a very different resonance than they would have when the scene was written and shot. There, additionally, was a gratuitous shot of a crowd on a bridge pelting the baddie Green Goblin with debris during which a random person declares “You attack one of us and you attack us all”, which as understandable an addition as it is, felt clumsy and unneeded. It certainly did NOT provoke the fist-pumping cries of “Yeah!” it was intended to. I imagine it tests differently the closer you are to NYC.
Anyway, seeing the city up there on the big screen made me realize how much I’m looking forward to seeing it agin the next time I fly into JFK. The approach uses the coolest flightpath in the world, and circumnavigates Manhattan from stem to stern and back again before skimming the roofs of Governor’s Island.
So I enjoyed the movie. Sam Raimi has definitely made better flicks, but at the same time, it’s clear that this film is really among the better efforts in the genre. I have no idea how he’d go about it, but I’d love to see the same tense, giggly “I can’t believe that just happened” quality the Evil Dead movies have in a followup Spidey flick.