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SPIDERMAN 2: A SOAP OPERA FOR BOYS

SPIDERMAN 2: A SOAP OPERA FOR BOYS

Published July 23, 2004

Where the first Spider-Man works best is when Peter Parker is discovering his powers. Somehow, it manages to capture the thrill of being an ordinary teenager who can suddenly beat up bullies and swing from skyscrapers better than he has any right to. Where the first film goes wrong is when the plot kicks in. Willem Dafoe can do menacing like few others, but the giggling Green Goblin in full regalia looks like someone you´d rather laugh at as he tries to take over the world. And the action scenes are closer to the spirit of Charlie´s Angels than the comic books.
This time, they get the villain right. The usually affable Alfred Molina makes a mean Dr. Octopus, if a somewhat more sympathetic one than his comic book counterpart.
Again, insanity is the reason for the evil one´s actions. His debates with his mechanical arms verge on the ridiculous, but in the context you go can along with anything and just enjoy it.
The insanity of both Norman Osbourne and Otto Octavious continue a familiar theme in popular culture: beware the eggheads. Anyone who thinks too much is bound to be plotting something sinister and the hero is a muscleman who punches his way into the villain’s meticulously constructed lair and saves the day. Superman´s brawn vs. Luthor´s brains, The Hulk’s gamma-enhanced muscles vs. the Leader´s (to be played by Geoffrey Rush in the 2nd Hulk film) gamma-enhanced intellect. Perhaps this is one of the reasons why a lot of people seem to have more faith in a Bush than a Gore. Anyone who knows too much is not to be trusted.
But Spider-Man is no brainless hunk of muscle. He seems more like the top student taking on the professors, which in this film he more or less literally does.
Unlike most fairy tales, which tell us that if we do the right thing we will eventually be rewarded, the Spiderman stories have always taken a different and perhaps more realistic approach. Spiderman is constantly being punished for doing the right thing. In fact, the more good he does, the more people seem to hate him. Perhaps you want children to believe that doing the right thing will lead to a reward. But the challenge, as presented to Spiderman, is knowing you´ll be punished for doing the right thing but doing it anyway. That´s where the question of great responsibility kicks in.
Although the action sequences are better judged than in the first Spider-Man, for a superhero film they´re actually few and far between. Perhaps one of the film’s flaws is that the engaging Molina seems underused. Instead, we get to witness that rarest of things in a sequel: character development. Spiderman even deals with his own version of impotence, finding he can no longer crawl walls when he starts doubting himself.
His romantic and financial problems take centre stage, interspersed with the odd battle with a supervillain. Spiderman always was a soap opera for boys. Perhaps we boys aren´t as averse to matters of the heart as previously thought. We just need the odd explosion to keep our attention.



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Movies & Theatre
‘ANNA’ Sets A Contemporary ‘Anna Karenina’ In Iceland

‘ANNA’ Sets A Contemporary ‘Anna Karenina’ In Iceland

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In new Icelandic short film ‘ANNA’, artist and filmmaker Helga Björg Gylfadóttir masterfully merges love, lust, bisexuality, politics and majestic landscapes. The film is a bold and intriguing take on one of the most celebrated novels of all time, Leo Tolstoy’s canonical ‘Anna Karenina’. And it works! The fact that Tolstoy’s masterpiece is a tome of some 900 pages, makes director Helga’s feat of extracting its essence into a fifteen-minute short (with very sparse dialogue) seem all the more impressive. Helga moves the setting from late 19th century Russia to modern-day Iceland—November of 2013, to be precise. Anna (played by

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The Attack Of Comic Realism

The Attack Of Comic Realism

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Hafsteinn Gunnar Sigurðsson’s second feature film, ‘París Norðursins’, or ‘Paris of the North’, revolves around a 37-year-old man, disoriented, as it seems, after a breakup, and his relations to various people, not least of all his chaos-factory of a father. While the son fled his hardships into a small town on the countryside, the father seems to have fled all over the place—last stop: Thailand. The father comes for a visit just at the start of the son’s summer vacation, boozes, and flirts with a woman the son had intermittently been involved with. The male animal The film touches on

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Brotherly Love

Brotherly Love

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My brother is a fourteen-carat, stone cold wanker. At age twelve he spoke fluent French, at fourteen he was the fastest 100-metre runner in Ireland for his age, at eighteen, he captained our school choir and won a scholarship to university for academic excellence, by nineteen he spoke fluent mandarin. My name’s Tom and I’m his older brother. Yesterday I started putting raisins into my porridge. Raisins contain polyphenolic phytonutrients that can improve your ability to see in the dark, and in Iceland around this time of year I reckon that it’s a shrewd bit of thinking. But society wouldn’t notice.

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Across the Isle With A Smile

Across the Isle With A Smile

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In true Icelandic fashion, the night’s festivities got off to a late start. Not that anyone minded. As such, there was an air of casualness and joviality that permeated the night—making it the perfect vibe to launch the Reykjavík Comedy Festival. English comedian Sean McLoughlin  MC’d the night, and performed his routine in between acts. His shtick was your typical dark-humoured, down ‘n’ out twentysomething, which proved a hit with the audience. Especially funny were his gags about his 36-year-old girlfriend, who he said was “a constant reminder that the good times end.” Seasoned performer Joel Dommett (y’all may remember

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On Thick Ice With Kitty Von-Sometime

On Thick Ice With Kitty Von-Sometime

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Artist Kitty Von-Sometime and a crew, including a friend brought along to monitor Kitty’s temperature in the cold, watched uncomfortably as their trailer full of film equipment, an ice sculpture, soda, and other potentially hazardous refreshments bounced in and out of sight in the rearview window as they approached Langjökull glacier. They were on their way to shoot ‘Opus,’ more than a year after Kitty produced her last installment of the Weird Girls Project. Originally conceived to encourage her female friends to push their boundaries, The Weird Girls Project began as a one-time event: the participants showed up with costumes

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RIFF 2014: Critic’s Picks

RIFF 2014: Critic’s Picks

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‘Art and Craft’ dirs. Sam Cullman, Jennifer Grausman and Mark Becker Mark Landis, one of the more prolific art forgers in American history, shopped for arts and crafts supplies at Hobby Lobby; painted, stained and varnished over photocopies from auction catalogues; and donated copies of the same works to multiple museums. While observing the ease with which the suggestion of largesse will open art-world doors, the film is less a meditation on creativity and originality than a sympathetic character portrait. Landis, a diagnosed schizophrenic often seen hunching over TV dinners in front of reruns, with few anchors in the world

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