May 04, 2002


THAT WAS SWEET: Just got out of Spider-Man. For the most part, it rocked. (It was a hopeful sign the Ebert was the only major critic who found it at all disappointing-- and Ryan, naturally, agrees.) It suffers from a bit of cheesy acting (especially at the end), but lots of great comic book action-- Willem Dafoe acquits himself nicely as the villain. In fact, the Green Goblin is a bit scary-- I might be hesitant to bring small children to this one (though if they insist, I suppose it's not the end of the world-- nightmares can be character building). One sign that this movie was in development hell for 15 years is the circa 1994 dialogue toward the begining about downsizing and all the jobs being computer-related.

I think the best part of the movie, that which drives it forward emotionally and dramatically, is the score. I was impressed with it within the first few measures, and then came the credit: sure enough, Danny Elfman, who is arguably the greatest living composer. (Multi-talented, too-- that's his singing voice as Jack Skellington in Nightmare Before Christmas.)

As the big comic book movies of my lifetime go (not counting the Superman sequels I was too young to see in theaters, or at least to remember), this falls just below the Tim Burton Batman movies (the first and second), but above the Joel Schumacher ones (the third and the awful fourth). Of course, all of the Batman movies do have the advantage of being able to design Gotham city (as more and more elaborate fantasy-Manhattans, until Batman & Robin where the scenery out-performs all of the actors combined); Spider-Man has to make due with the real New York, where the comic book is set. She's a beautiful city, though, and the real setting gives the movie a certain immediaccy-- though the "Daily Bugle" sign running down the Flatiron building illicitted quite a chuckle, which I think was intentional. (Incidentally, the much-talked about World Trade Center shot goes by so fast I didn't notice it, unlike in Changing Lanes, where it's a major distraction early in the movie-- the least of that film's problems.)

Posted by John Tabin at May 4, 2002 02:32 PM