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So, off we went: marypcb, Jon, Andre and I. The scene, a West End cinema; the aim, to see a block-buster movie. We'd already done Star Wars: Attack Of The Clones, so this time it was to be Spider-Man.

Sam Raimi's Spider-Man is a movie that wants to be a comic book. It's implicit in its dialogue, in its framing - even in the choice of lighting and colour. Comic fans could take the theme and name it: Spider-man - Year One. This the origin story writ large, in its twin themes of the birth of hero and of nemesis. And at the same time it's a rethinking of a familiar story, and of familiar characters. We march from set piece to set piece, from secret origin, to first battle, to first failure, to learning... The arc is familiar, and comfortable.

Sure, there are retcons. But that's to be expected when we move from the printed page to the big screen. The rules are different, we have to see everything, not imagine the events between the frames of a standard nine-panel grid. It's a testament to Raimi's film-making skills that we can suspend our fanboy disbelief, and just accept even the largest distortion of the Spider-man mythos. It's all right, we tell ourselves, this is film, and this works.

But at the end of the day, can we walk away from the film and learn anything? Sure, we know that "great power means great responsibility", but what more is there than that simple platitude? Very little. Cartoon violence and comic dialogues amid the Hong Kong action movie set pieces do little to engage the audience beyond the simple, visceral response. For a deeper analysis of what makes a superhero we must go to M. Night Shyamalan's Unbreakable, and leave Spider-man on the shelf next to the rest of Raimi's light tele-dramas like Xena...

Still, we had fun.

Comments

( 7 comments — Leave a comment )
swisstone
Jun. 26th, 2002 09:03 am (UTC)
It may be a simple platitude, but it's one that many Americans, including the President, fail to recognise.
codepope
Jun. 26th, 2002 09:36 am (UTC)
So not Scooby Doo next then?
sbisson
Jun. 27th, 2002 01:34 am (UTC)
You know, I keep forgetting about that one. Not sure what that says about me... apart from that fact that I never really liked the cartoon. It was just too, err, pointless.

To whit: kids arrive in place with ominous name/spooky house/rotting fun fair, and a seemingly supernatural monster causes runctions. Scooby and Shaggy get lost, the others do some detective work. In an explosive finally the bumbling duo meet up with the dynamic trio and unmask the plotter, who turns out to have some financial interest which has led him to this (somewhat unlikely) means of realising his actions.

"And Hanna Barbera would have gotten away with it if it hadn't been for you pesky kids and your interest in post-modern non-linear narrative texts and plot arcs..."

Tho' in these enlightened days, one could see Scooby Doo as a metaphor for anti-globalisation, with the masked bad guy the CEO of Enron/Tyco/Worldcom/...

Excuse me, I have an excellent book I must go and finish. Damn Walter Jon Williams, why must he go and rethink his early Drake Majestral romps as radical hard SF space opera?
codepope
Jun. 27th, 2002 01:44 am (UTC)
I just enjoyed it for the Scooby Snacks.

I'd cut down on your dosage of Jonkatz though. :)

alexmc
Jun. 26th, 2002 11:33 am (UTC)
Fun Film !
It was a fun film which pleased Spidey fans like myself. I wasn't expecting any more.

Actually I would have liked more one-liners from Spidey - Joss Wheedon could have shown Sam Raimi a thing or two
ocean_song
Jun. 27th, 2002 10:59 am (UTC)
I agree with some of the other folk - I thought it was good fun
It was just comic book fun on the big screen. And the setting
up of the characters certainly beat Episode 1 by leaps and
bounds! In any case, I would have gone to see it, just to
see Kirsten Dunst as a redhead. And don't you *dare* go
knocking Xena!!! =]

I still think Tank Girl is the best comic to film adaptation ever made (even if they did play down the dyke sex).
sbisson
Jun. 27th, 2002 11:15 am (UTC)
Re: I agree with some of the other folk - I thought it was good fun
Oh, I wasn't. It was good light fun (and I'm a big Xena fan). I just felt there was the opportunity to do something on a par with Unbreakable.

I guess I just read too much DC and Dark Horse...
( 7 comments — Leave a comment )