diamond geezer

 Monday, July 19, 2004

Screen 1: Spiderman 2
I watched the first Spiderman movie in New York, on its opening night no less. After the film finished I wandered out into 42nd Street where it was easy to imagine a lycra-suited superhero swinging overhead between the skyscrapers. And then I returned to my overnight lodgings via the Roosevelt Island cablecar which the Green Goblin had just destroyed totally in the film's finale. Thankfully it was still working. I watched the second Spiderman movie over the weekend in Tottenham Court Road. It's not got quite the same local atmosphere, to be honest, and our arachnid hero would have real difficulty getting around with just Centre Point and a few lampposts to hang from. But the film was dead good anyway.

S2 sees endearingingly geeky student Peter Parker struggling to come to terms with his superhero alter ego. And girls. Oh it's a tough decision to have to make - save the metropolis from crime or sleep with Mary Jane - and Spidey takes 2 hours to make up his mind. Inbetween we get a lot of soul searching, a lot of emotion, a lot of sharp comedy and a smattering of top quality action to keep us entertained. Plus we get a scientist with evil mechanical arms just for good measure ("He's called Octavius and he winds up with eight limbs! What are the chances?"). The buildings of New York take quite a beating and nearly disappear in a fusion fireball. And Peter's mask keeps disappearing in public, rather too often for my liking if they want the sequel to hold water.

The star of the piece isn't Tobey Maguire as Peter Parker, although he's extremely good and desperately believable. The star isn't Alfred Molina as Doc Ock, although he makes his comicbook villain unexpectedly three-dimensional. The star isn't female, although both Kirsten Dunst and 'Aunt May' manage to escape the clutches of the human octopus without screaming the house down. The star isn't the special effects, although the action shots are seamless and the film manages to make wall-climbing look everday and commonplace. No, the star is director Sam Raimi, of Evil Dead fame, who's managed to mix the comic and the comic book in just the right proportions. You'll laugh just as much at the elevator scene as you'll gasp at the runaway train sequence. Script and screenplay are both very carefully constructed, and the whole film is a strongly recommended web sight. Marvel-lous.

Screen 2: Ju-On: the Grudge
Meanwhile, probably not showing at a cinema near you is this oriental horror flick. It stormed the box office in Japan but I suspect this subtitled slow-paced creeper is unlikely to pull any crowds here. There's this evil house on an ordinary street with a croaking white-faced secret in the attic, and everyone who visits eventually dies a horrible death. With the emphasis on the 'eventually'. There are a few genuinely shocking moments, and Sam Raimi really rated the film apparently, but your best bet is probably to wait until the Autumn when the Hollywood remake with Sarah Michelle Gellar is released. And then ignore that too.

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