This week:

Filthy says:
"Radioactve blood my ass!"

I'm sure there are a million soiled pairs of Spiderman Underoos stretched to the breaking point over the lardasses of collectors, fanboys and geeks this week. Spiderman, for many of them, is the culmination of a lifetime of waiting and virginity. This review is not for those geeks; they have dozens of chat rooms where they can bicker among themselves about the irrelevant minutiae on Friday nights while the rest of the world is out being normal (that is, getting so drunk we vomit into open convertibles).

Geeks canonize the source material. With comics and fantasy fans, the source material becomes infallible, so if the movie follows its flaws and amateurishness religiously, it is perfect. If there were a comic book called "Superturd" that about a crimestopping pile of shit, the geeks would love the movie if it were about shit. Their biggest quibbles would be over the amount of corn or the texture. If I wrote a review and said "That was shit. No plot, no story, no characters, just a lot of steaming piles," they would all write to tell me how stupid I am. "It was exactly like the comic!"

Personally, I don't care how faithful or unfaithful something is to its source. It's got to stand on its own and that's how I review the movie: not whether Mary Jane's hair was that color red in the cartoon, but whether she is sympathetic. If you're a geek, don't get mad, don't start hyperventilating at the sacrilege of someone not giving a flying fuck about the make-believe mythology of the only social sect lower than drunken unemployed gas jockeys. Just walk away. Go stroke your action figure (or diddle your dodecahedron die) until you've ensnared yourself in a gooey spidey web. Then cry yourself to sleep.

This review is for those of us who don't know the difference between Mary Jane and Lois Lane, and couldn't care less whether the Green Goblin's mask was consistent with that shown in frame six on page 14 of Spiderman Comic #167--Spiderman Gets Some! But His Fans Never Will!

Having said all that in the hopes of discouraging e-mail from hotheaded geeks who think verisimilitude is the only thing that matters, let me say Spiderman is okay. It has to haul the weight of the formula: boy loves girl who loves superhero boy secretly is, villain is a famous person incognito, villain tries to seduce hero to dark side, best friend is caught in the middle. It's exactly the same plot as Batman and Superman and probably Superturd if they ever make it. And it's a story that expects us to take the superhero at face value; this boy-spider is not an allegory for anything, not a symbol for a class of people or culture. He is a boy spider who fights crime. That's a hard sell for most of us.

Tobey Maguire is a brilliant scientist teen who lives with his aunt and uncle and secretly pines for the big-boobied girl-next-door, Kirsten Dunst. He gets more shit from his classmates than I did the day my freshman year that I carved Debbie Leight's name into my arm with a lead pencil and she responded by getting a restraining order. I responded by getting violently ill from the lead. On a school field trip to Columbia University, he is bit by a genetically-enhanced spider. That night, he undergoes a transformation from scrawny kid to super-strong superhero who can shoot webs and climb walls. I remember undergoing a similar transformation as a teen, except it was from happy child to moody, surly teem who buried his problems at the bottom of a bottle. Maguire is still a bratty kid who jut wants a convertible to impress Dunst until his father is killed by carjackers. The incident goads him into vigilantism and wearing tights. He goes on a crime-stopping spree, including frequently saving Dunst, especially during a thunderstorm that only happens to soak her T-shirt and make her nipples point to the stars. It is a truly magical moment.

Meanwhile, Maguire's best friend, rich, moody kid James Franco, is having trouble with his father, Willem Dafoe. Dafoe's defense industry company is about to lose its contract if he can't prove that his super-strength formulas works. He tests it on himself, causing insanity and violence, and superstrength. The insanity not only causes him to talk to himself a lot, but also to want to kill his enemies, including Spiderman.

It seems like a weird coincidence that two people, one good and one bad, would acquire superpowers in the same week. But then again, New York is a big city. Here in Arvada, we'd have to wait a lifetime for just one superhero. I once drank a bottle of cough syrup and thought I could fly, but Mrs. Filthy stopped me before I could check.

Director Sam Raimi does a swell job combining a comic book look with the real world. Unlike Batman, this movie is supposed to take place in the real city of New York, and real locations like the library and Brooklyn Bridge are used as backdrops. The pseudo-science of Dafoe's office is both comic-like and more real than any of those shitty sci-fi movies where computers bloop and bleep a lot and don't look anything like real machines.

The overall selection of settings, though, is pretty corny, like a travelogue for Manhattan. And the whole movie is pretty unimaginative. It follows the same trajectory of every superhero movie with some interesting deviations in the details. I assume that in the sequel, Maguire will reveal who he really is to Dunst. Ho hum. The battles are surprisingly unimaginative and rehashed CGI crap, and the damsel-in-distress-scenes are too many and too unoriginal.

The movie also felt too long and too serious. Cut a half hour off, get Spiderman and Green
Goblin fighting sooner, and remember it's based on a comic book, not the fucking bible. The soundtrack does nothing to differentiate this movie from Batman or anything else Danny Elfman has scored. It's the same gothic choir and swelling brass section shit he ran into the ground five years ago.

Tobey Maguire is dull, and maybe that's what his character is supposed to be, but if I wanted that I could go to the Cheshire Cat and listen to yuppies talk about how good the microbrew is. Too much time is spent at the beginning of the story establishing that his character is a science whiz, but that information is never used. Most likely, it had to be in there to appease the geeks. He never uses his science skills because he's a fucking freak that can shoot webs out of his hands. The movie makes a point of showing the costume Maguire makes on his own. It's a big joke, haha, because it's so shitty; just sweats with a spider painted on them and a ski mask. But then it doesn't bother to explain where he gets the professional looking version, which still looks more like gay bondage tights than anything that could scare a bad guy.

Kirsten Dunst is a very good actress, and each of her tits under a wet shirt is worth a quarter the price of admission. I mean, this is the kind of stuff that makes a man sitting alone in a theater instinctively squeeze the Hamm's he smuggled in. She's the best thing about the movie, but she's underused. She mostly just has to scream, look scared and be rescued. Fuck, Raimi, give the lady some balls. That's what guys dig; chicks with big balls. Do a search on the Internet if you don't believe me. Her character is nothing more than a trace outline of a human being: aspiring actress, has a mean father, helpless and of indeterminate intelligence. I want to get to know her better before I go home and jerk off while thinking about her.

Dafoe's Green Goblin is a fucking joke. He looks like and acts as scary as a Mattel Hot Wheel welded onto the head of a Transformer. If I had a villain this lame I would give him something funny to say. But this is serious shit. Even the scenes when Dafoe's sane and insane sides argue, including one in a mirror, are played like Citizen Kane. Uh, yeah, right. His rivalry with Spiderman is tangential and contrived. It would have been better for Maguire as a science whiz to be hired by Dafoe and then discover his plans. Instead, their connection is as roundabout and tenderfooted as a postmaster telling a mail carrier holding a gun why he is being fired.

Like I said, it's a decent movie, it looks good and has nice details, but it's tied too closely to its formula and too afraid of the geeks to veer from the corny plots of the comics. For once and for all, Hollywood, you don't have to listen to the comic book freaks. They aren't cool, they're just loud. Three Fingers for Spiderman.

Want to tell Filthy Something?

Filthy's Reading
Mark Twain - Innocents Abroad

Listening to
The Strokes - Is This It

Treasure of the Sierra Madre

Bill Zwecker of Fox TV-Chicago

About The Scorpion King: "The Rock is the action hero for the new millennium!"

Unfaithful is "Amazing!"

In High Crimes "Morgan Freeman and Ashley Judd are sensational!"


©2002 by Randy Shandis Enterprises. All fucking rights Reserved