Joe Clark: Media access

You are here: joeclark.orgCaptioning and media access
Accessible cinemaReviews

See also: List of available reviews


Spider-man 2

Seen: 2004.07.15   ¶   Reviewed: 2004.07.17

OK, why is everybody saying this is better than the first one?

  1. I don’t really see a reason for any kind of villain, let alone Dr. Octopus (revived from the television series). I spent long periods completely forgetting he was in the picture.
  2. Why, exactly, must a ball of fusion energy held in place by gravimetry be manipulated by huge pincers? And since it exerts such an enormous magnetic field that it topples cars on the street, wouldn’t those pincers have to be supremely nonferrous not to be drawn inexorably into the ball?
  3. Why would a fusion reaction (essentially a small sun) be extinguishable by dunking in water?
  4. If Alfred Molina is the best they can manage to play a mad scientist, well, where the fuck is Joe Orton when you need him to waltz in and bludgeon Molina to death?
  5. The movie stacks the deck in its previously-adequate attempts to show that unexpected sexual-metaphor superpowers aren’t helping Peter Parker very much. Why does he live in an actual rooming house, of which few exist in New York? (Quentin Crisp, whom I once took to lunch, lived in one of the very last.) Why would the superintendent also live there? Why does poor Aunt May, whose delivery is much too knowing, unhesitant, fluent, and modern, suddenly also lose her house? (And what does it take to get a 70-year-old woman to fall asleep on her own kitchen table – apart, that is, from a tranquilizer dart?)
  6. J. Jonah Jameson is as fabulous as ever. Or perhaps I’m just being swayed by J.K. Simmons. Who wouldn’t be?
  7. I appreciate the fact that the intermittent failure of Spidey’s superpowers is simply unexplained. However, it’s trite and overdone for the Green Goblin’s son to somehow turn evil – just as he happens across a serum that will turn him all magic ’n’ shit, plus a spare glider and grenades.
  8. It’s a movie cliché for Peter to be unable to explain to Mary Jane why he missed her performance. “I got there late and I saw you from across the street afterward”: How hard is that? (We even resort to the worst cliché of all, a blurted “You don’t understand!” Well, maybe not, but that’s your goddamned fault.)
  9. When an unconscious Spider-man is crowd-surfed to the rear of a car in a subway train he just rescued, all I thought of was R.E.M.’s “Drive,” which did it ever so much better.
  10. And isn’t it fitting that the vegetarian T. Maguire, with his giant limpid eyes, is really as bodily large as could possibly be credible for somebody in that suit? What we’re looking at is a Tobey Maguire as muscular (and, notably, depilated) as modern technology can achieve. Can you imagine tall, angular Jake Gyllenhaal in that costume? Me neither.
  11. I’m not usually into this shit, but Spider-man in full costume restrained by brutal metal chains while lying on “a divan” is the hottest thing I’ve seen in months. If only it could have been Jameson!

Theatre experience

At the Paramount. I didn’t expect a problem. I requested a reflector and headset from the tall, dashing, very-well-dressed manager. Curiously, I had been there to see an unMoPixed movie ten days before and had asked this manager what the procedure was. His reply? Manager looks at ID, jots down in book, gives back ID.

I asked the playa what the procedure was today. He said I was to sign myself in. I mentioned why that was a bad idea. He said “No problem” and handed me a slip of paper and a pen. Then, finally, the manager came back with a reflector (scratched to shit, so I immediately rejected it) and explained that the playa had been away for three weeks and didn’t know the new system. He looked at my Big Card (no arguments about it) and jotted me down in the binder.

“Thanks,” I said as I was leaving. “And great suit.” He thought I was being facetious. I wasn’t! Pinstriped shirt with narrow collar and luscious cream summer-weight wool suits are hard to find in this town. Straight guys with taste. Rare jewels, really.

I get in and the movie has actually started. The ideal row is really quite full, but two people are in the row behind that in my seat. I simply ask them to move, and, after conferring, they do. A baldy in the row below keeps staring at me. “Relax. It’s been handled,” I tell him.

Caption quality

I’m too goddamned close to the display! It is impossible to fit all the characters (a mere 32 of them wide) in the plexiglas panel.

(Klaxon blaring): It’s not capitalized. Mixing up K and k is a journeyman error. (They’re actually difficult-to-render letters.) Curiously, I had just seen a similar caption on a WGBH-captioned TV show the week before, where they got it right.

With great power, comes great responsibility: No comma.

A Chinese couple are said to be (speaking Mandarin), yet later say “We’ve got you.” No, they don’t: They say something in Chinese. And I’m not sure it was Mandarin; did the captioneers get that from the script?

(blade rings) twice. Where the hell was that in Kill Bill, where the blades verily sang?

Description quality

Our narrator, surprisingly, is... Miles Neff!

“A female receptionist watches a door open”: Because they aren’t all girls. I should know.

“His shoulders rise as he manages a breath”: Excellent evocation of not knowing how to react.

A character puts a “trash bag” in a “garbage can”: Gotta watch for those echoes. But later, we hear of Spider-man’s costume “hanging over the side of a metal trash can.”

“Peter sits with books by ‘Yeets’ and Longfellow.” That’s not how it’s pronounced!

“The ‘rapiading’ orb expands”: “Radiating,” shurely?!

I overwrote my notes here, but this part is correct: “Peter... fights back the tears.” “The” tears?

Please, don’t be so periphrastic: “Her friend hangs his head” is just Peter!

Spider-man snatches back his costume from J. Jonah Jameson (take it off!) and leaves a note, we are told. But we’re not told what it says: The priceless COURTESY OF YOUR FRIENDLY NEIGHBORHOOD SPIDER-MAN. Should have talked over dialogue.

Peter “leans back parallel to the roof”: You mean he limboes?

“Now, lightning flash outside the warehouse”: You mean it “flashes.”

“Peter’s suit rips open along one bulging bicep”: Wow, biceps never do anything but bulge. T. Maguire’s aren’t so big, really. (More than a handful is a waste.) But thanks for trying. Really!


Exit interview