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More Spiderman 2

Good point from Brayden King and good point from Henry Farrell -- all objections are withdrawn and I can now give a wholehearted endorsement. Either way, it's a sign of how well-made the film is compared to most of what Hollywood turns out that a viewer can even clearly identify a theme and then worry whether or not the ending is really true to the theme. That's why the fact that the film's plot clearly has some holes winds up not detracting from the experience: There's a point to the sequence of events so it's not a problem that in a first-order way there's no account of why things would happen like that. SPOILER.

This is most notable with Spiderman's bouts of super-hero impotence which they don't even attempt to make consistent with the origin story in any way. Why would that happens? Who knows? And more important: Why cares? It happens not only to drive the story, but to drive the theme that heroism is a choice at a higher level. You even see it in the scientifically absurd notion that you could "put out" a fusion reaction by dropping it in a river. Doctor Octopus sacrifices himself Samson-like to make it happen, and the occurence references his earlier, pre-villain thought that he belongs at the bottom of the river which, in turn, references Eliot's line "I should have been a pair of ragged claws / Scuttling across the floors of silent seas." The only threat is that just as the perfectly good Matrix story was wrecked by its two awful sequels, the two good Spiderman films will be undermined if they screw up part three.

July 5, 2004 | Permalink

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Comments

When you're doing a movie, often times you need to change things in order to not dilute the story, but to turn it into concentrate. See the LotR movies, which really captured the whole feel and point possibly better than the books, which was too diluted.

Who cares that dropping the fusion into the river would stop it? It's pure comic book-dom. Pure pulp. And it works because of that.

But I take serious umbrige in saying that the Matrix sequels were messed up. Everybody thinks that. But nobody can appriciate good detailed hard sci-fi. A lot of people say they want it, but when they get it they pan it as being a "bad movie"

They complain about the characters and the lines and everything like that, without realizing that the characters NEED to be minimalist. To get out of the way so they can show off the world/situation/THE SCIENCE FICTION.

The other movie that really got schlocked for that was Final Fantasy:The Spirits Within, which to the day is the best hard sci-fi movie ever made, bar none.

Posted by: Karmakin | Jul 5, 2004 11:52:54 AM

I also really enjoyed Spidey 2. In a big movies/home theater forum I'm on, somebody posted an exact thought I had while watching the movie: how does Doc Ock actually use the money he steals to get all the equipment for his second fusion machine? Does he walk into a store and buy the stuff? Maybe he orders on-line...but if so, where does he have everything delivered? And how does he sign for it? It might be somewhat bothersome in a lesser movie, but in a good one, who cares. :)

I thought Matrix Reloaded was a really solid sequel, with the story not quite matching up to the first one, but arguably even better action scenes (though the first movie is certainly better overall). But Revolutions, wow, what a catastrophe. Awful story-line, boring action sequences, nothing that hadn't been done at least as well or even better in the first two.

Karmakin, do you really think Matrix Revolutions is good sci-fi? I'm not a big fan of the genre per-se, but I love movies in general. For all its cartoon characters and groan-incuding dialoge, the original Star Wars was a magnificent movie. Matrix Revolutions decidedly wasn't.

Posted by: Haggai | Jul 5, 2004 12:09:23 PM

That should be "groan-inducing," of course. Maybe the first Star Wars movie isn't the best example, as it doesn't really fall under what anyone would call "hard" sci-fi. Certainly not like 2001 or Bladerunner.

Posted by: Haggai | Jul 5, 2004 12:11:48 PM

Brayden King gets the sociological encumbrances restraining choice, but of course the genetic and circumstantial restraints are even greater. Of course there is no free will (the psychological equivalent of the discredited biologic notion of spontaneous generation), but for epistemological reasons, like the arguments against god: they are ill-defined notions that are untestable and add nothing to our understanding.

We find ourselves, on occasion, in situations where we may do one thing or another, and our experience informs us there will be various outcomes pleasing or displeasing, short term and longterm, depending on what we do. Our genetic endowment and interpretation of our past experience drives us to one choice or the other. Example: an attractive man and woman wink at me in a bar. That I choose to pursue the woman is hardly free will, since my prediliction for women over men as sex partners is not under my control. Just because I can't identify all the factors going into this decision doesn't mean free will came into play, any more than the fact that I can't figure out how the sun moves around the earth makes the case for a sun god moving it.

And while MJ, and other women, want an attentive and competent bread winner, showing altruism hardly scares off the girls.

Posted by: epistemology | Jul 5, 2004 12:19:26 PM

Haggai:I think it was great hard sci-fi. I liked Blade Runner as well, however there wasn't enough technological detail for my tastes. 2001 was a good book. However, I'm in the minority in that except for Full Metal Jacket, I don't like Kubrick at all.

The original Star Wars was a god-awful movie. The whole series, for the most part is pretty god-awful. There are great scenes..the Death Star Battles, the Battle of Hoth, but the rest of it is...eh...just terrible.

What did I love about Revolutions? The second hour of it, basically. The defense of Zion, the hovership flying down the tunnel. (Watching HOW it flies, the detail the electricity crackling off the pipes).

The final fight between Smith and Neo was a fanboy type moment for me. Mainly because of the Anime/JRPG influences. (The music/scene everything made me think of Cloud vs. Sephiroth..One Winged Angel, by far)

Posted by: Karmakin | Jul 5, 2004 12:29:16 PM

OK, Karmakin, I think our relative tastes in movies appear to be like matter and anti-matter. :)

Posted by: Haggai | Jul 5, 2004 12:34:24 PM

I'm with Haggai on the Doc Ock/FedEx arrangement. I look to suspend disbelief on the premise, not the details. The closer the detail comes to a real-world interaction, the more frustrating it is when there's no good reason for bending the rules. Psychotic robot arms nuclearly fused to man's spinal column? Sure, no problema good match for a boy infused with the powers of a radioactive spider. But showing us shipping crates in Doc Ock's burned down harbor lab really irked me.

Posted by: Kriston | Jul 5, 2004 12:42:15 PM

Heh, it didn't really irk me all that much, it was just something I noticed. The question of why he needs to steal any money in the first place, as opposed to just marching into the appropriate store/warehouse and grabbing whatever he needs, seems like a more obvious one.

Posted by: Haggai | Jul 5, 2004 12:53:36 PM

"You even see it in the scientifically absurd notion that you could "put out" a fusion reaction by dropping it in a river" MY

Really? This is good to know, thanks.

"Of course there is no free will" Epistemology

This is also good to know, tho I spect the hint from heloise about fusion bombs will come in handier

Posted by: bob mcmanus | Jul 5, 2004 2:23:01 PM

Putting out the fusion reactor by dropping it in the river was actually one of the more scientifically reasonable parts of the movie. The water would dissipate the heat of the plasma and prevent the reactions from having enough energy to occur. Absolutely everything else about the fusion device was absurd, which took away from my enjoyment not at all. As you say, that was not point and it would have been much worse to sacrifice narrative or theme to make it marginally less ridiculous.

Posted by: MattT | Jul 5, 2004 2:31:45 PM

Presumably money is more plentiful and easier to steal than the various parts needed. And if you have enough money, you can get just about anything shipped just about anywhere. My disbelief suspenders weren't stretched on that point.

My biggest question during the movie was how Ock (and the occasional ordinary mortal) could be bounced into a wall with enough force to shatter brick or stone but suffer no damage. But then that's a normal part of comic book combat.

Posted by: KCinDC | Jul 5, 2004 4:52:20 PM

"references Eliot's line I should have been a pair of ragged claws / Scuttling across the floors of silent seas."

Damn. This is a good point. And you know that it was by design, because Doc Ock references Eliot when he and his wife are having lunch with Peter at the beginning of the movie.

Posted by: JP | Jul 5, 2004 4:58:09 PM

"This is most notable with Spiderman's bouts of super-hero impotence which they don't even attempt to make consistent with the origin story in any way. Why would that happens? Who knows?"

Huh? Obviously because his conscious doubts are reflected by his psychosomatically body. I say "obvious," because plenty of reviewers, such as Roger Ebert, have observed in their review that it is obvious.

Posted by: Gary Farber | Jul 5, 2004 6:20:53 PM

You boys gotta watch more Buffy. Because since Season 1, this has been one of the show's most resonant themes. It's the message that one has an an undelegable responsibility to do the right thing, and there is no reward. in fact, no one ever thanks you, you get in trouble at school and at home, and next week you've got to save the damn world all over again.

End of Buffy Season 2--she's in the kitchen with her mother, who's just found out that her daughter is a superhero. Her mother tells her she's not allowed to--it's too dangerous, and she'll get herself killed. She tells her not to come back if she goes through the door, that she should just stop being a superhero. Buffy's response:

"No, it doesn't stop! It never stops! Do-do you think I chose to be like this? Do you have any idea how lonely it is, how dangerous? I would love to be upstairs watching TV or gossiping about boys or... God, even studying! But I have to save the world... again."

And then she goes out, and to save the world, she has to kill her boyfriend. So she does.

When season 2 ends, because she saved the world, Buffy has been thrown out of school, kicked out of the house, she's wanted by the police, and she's murdered the man she loves.

So, whatever, Spiderman was fine, but you all gotta check out Buffy if you want to see selfless dedication to duty. Watch the chicks.

Posted by: theorajones | Jul 5, 2004 7:30:29 PM

bob mcmanus:

Allow me the pleasure of returning the favor of snideness: You think there is free will? How very useful. I will inform my tobacco addicted friends immediately. It is precisely the point that the concept of free will is of no practical value, never has been, never will be. When the iron bell tolls, fall to your knees and chant the phrase, "I have free will", for it is all the use you will ever get out of it.

Posted by: epistemology | Jul 5, 2004 8:37:38 PM

"It is precisely the point that the concept of free will is of no practical value" epistemology

It was meant in an affectionate agreement, for does not my statement say essentially the same? If the concept is meaningless, then is there much point in asserting it's non-existence? This is why I am not an atheist. I meant no offense, tho perhaps there was some kidding involved.

["There is no free will"] "This is also good to know, tho I spect the hint from heloise about fusion bombs will come in handier" ... bobmc

Unless you believe that a belief in free will does actual harm.

Posted by: bob mcmanus | Jul 5, 2004 11:12:58 PM

How anybody could call Final Fantasy "hard sci-fi" at all, much less the BEST of it, I find more puzzling than that someone could dislike star wars. FF was, as the title suggests, fantasy. The "Spirits" made no logical sense. Although perhaps it made more sense in the original translation?

Posted by: Glen Raphael | Jul 6, 2004 4:32:41 AM

A lot of the weird things in Spiderman 2 make a whole lot more sense in the developed context of the comic book world Doc Ock and Spidey inhabit; For instance, there are enough world conquering megalomaniacs around, that they constitute a viable market for several supply outlets, which will deliver just about anything, COD, no questions asked.

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