Who feels like a movie review written ignoring conventional film-viewing techniques and concentrating on whatever I decide to nitpick at? Okay, let’s go! But be warned: There are probably some spoilers. Not plot spoilers so much as now you won’t be able to see it without snickering.
I went to see a movie, something I wish I could do more often. It was especially nice because I was treated to the company of my Dad, my younger brother, and my Calvin; who are fun to take to movies because they’re hypercritical about everything in them. I can’t tell you how many times I’ve been sitting enjoying Hollywood’s latest offering, only to feel Calvin’s breath hot on my ear, whispering “Yeah, sure. Apparently there are no laws of physics here.”
The movie we just saw was the new one about my friendly neighborhood Spiderman.
Oh, did I say ‘friendly’? I’m sorry, I meant ’emo and whiny.’
I think we’ve all seen the trailers – Spidey becomes evil when some black goo falls from space and attaches itself to him. But both Calvin and I had to admit, while Spiderman certainly becomes more aggressive and nasty, Peter Parker responds by becoming less evil than…….emo.
For those of you unfamiliar with the concept, Emo Kids are sad. I mean, really, really sad. Not just sad, but Sad. As Calvin put it: “Okay. I have feelings. I deal with those feelings. But they wallow in those feelings. They try on and wear those feelings, they become those feelings.”
You’ve probably seen a lot of Emo Kids around. Although it is a parody, look at the picture for reference. They wear tight-fitting black clothes, their hair – which, for the males, always falls in a long side bang over one eye – is dyed black. They wear black eyeliner and/or mascara. They are depressed, depressing, and nonsensical. They take black and white pictures of themselves looking plaintive and do things like draw tears on them using sharpies. They write poems about feeling lonely and empty inside and scowl at you darkly if you ask them about it.
And Peter Parker became so inexplicably emo that we had to laugh. His hair became darker, and actually got longer in the front, falling over one eye. He donned a black leisure suit and danced to 80s music. I squinted at him for awhile, trying to figure out what was so different about his eyes. “He’s wearing eyeliner,” Calvin suggested. “Honey,” I said, shooting him a disdainful look, “I know black eyeliner. And that is not black eyeliner.” But then I cracked up as I realized what it was. “They’ve applied mascara to his bottom lashes!” I hissed excitedly.
Let me point out that I’m not criticizing, Peter Parker’s incredible emocity was almost my favorite part of the movie. But I do have some complaints.
While the criticism of Calvin, Little Bro, and Dad was based upon things like plot continuity, logistics, and adherence to the original comics, my major complaint was based entirely with the character of Mary Jane Watson.
While I think Kirsten Dunst did an excellent job fleshing out her character in the first two movies, giving Mary Jane true depth, this sequel found her trading in some of the world’s most hackneyed female stereotypes. I was particularly upset because I recently saw Elizabethtown, a beautiful little sleeper in which Kirsten portrays a romantically conflicted and confused character, and she does it with an impossible grace. Not to mention complex and well-played roles in Little Women, Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind, and Mona Lisa Smile.
And I’m sure she was good in that Marie Antoinette movie I didn’t see because I heard it kind of sucked anyway. (Kikki explained that she got so bored that she began making up her own subplots, all of which involved minor characters having illicit affairs with one another)
But it isn’t as though she’s Jessica Alba, or something. This girl is no one-trick pony. She knows better.
Throughout the beginning of the movie, Mary Jane feels overshadowed by Spiderman’s fame. But she does that ridiculous female protagonist thing where she doesn’t tell him she’s upset – just pouts and gets mad at him for no apparent reason. Then, when he’s understandably confused, she accuses him of ‘not listening’ or ‘not being there for her’ or ‘not understanding her’.
“Like anyone actually behaves that way!” I ranted to Calvin. “You realize that I’ve been in relationships that were exactly like that,” he tells me. But Calvin is nothing if not well-trained, so he followed up with “You aren’t like that. That’s why I like you so much.”
The part I found most disturbing is a scene where emo/jerky Peter Parker goes to the cafe where Mary Jane works to passive-aggressively taunt her with another girl. He winds up getting into a fight with a bouncer, and when Mary Jane tries to stop him, he actually throws her to the floor.
There was a moment of silence in which all the air was sucked out of the theater, punctuated only by one adolescent girl loudly commenting, “Somebody’s in trouble.”
I really couldn’t believe it happened. And he didn’t even help her up. Just kind of stopped, stared at her, and skittered away into the night.
That was bad enough. But it gets worse.
After he somewhat redeems himself and (of course) saves her life, at the very end of the movie he reconciles with Mary Jane. But with no explanation. She just starts dancing with him, no “Hey, why were you such an abusive ass earlier?” There wasn’t even an angsty “Oh, Peter, how can I ever be expected to trust you again?”
Apparently I was the only one disturbed by this. “Oh,” my mom said when I explained it, “it’s because he’s Peter Parker, and she knows him, she knows he’s a good man.”
Few seemed impressed by my point that this subplot is rationalizing and idealizing a common cycle of domestic abuse. I mean, seriously, ‘Oh, he beats up on me, but I know deep down he’s a good man and doesn’t mean it,’ is almost as hackneyed (and more dangerous) as ‘you don’t listen to me’ in terms of female protagonist stereotypes.
Also, Calvin informs me that there were several deviations from the comics about who lived and who did not.
But other than that, it was actually quite a good movie.