The mornings are still chill here in Oregon’s Willamette Valley, but the days are warm and the evenings pleasant. Everything’s gone green.
I drove to Hubbard yesterday afternoon and the green was all around. The grass is lush, the trees are gaudy with leaves. The Barlow area is a verdant sea. The beginning of May is a wonderful time to be alive.
I’m not generally a fan of big summer event movies; I prefer the small, thoughtful independent Oscar-worthy stuff that’s released at the end of the year. Mac stayed over last night, though, and he and I both had the same idea: go see Spider-Man.
Spider-Man is not a film to which I’ve been looking forward (despite the presence of Tobey Macguire, a fine actor). Superhero films usually disappoint me (the weak Unbreakable, the abysmal X-Men movie): they’re tedious and nonsensical. The only superhero films I can remember liking are Superman II and the first Batman movie. These films were based on DC heroes, though, and they’re not what I grew up enjoying. I was a fan of Marvel comics (though I didn’t often read Spider-Man).
I wasn’t looking forward to Spider-man, but thought it would be a fun Friday night diversion.
I’m pleased to report that it exceeded my expectations.
The one thing that sets Spider-Man apart from other films in the genre is its writing. The writing, by David Koepp (of Jurassic Park, Mission: Impossible, and Panic Room) is fantastic. It’s not academy award worthy but it indicates an adept hand. The dialogue is sharp (very witty at times) and the story makes sense (for the most part). The directing is good, too: the film’s pacing is flawless and the action sequences move well. No scene lingers too long, a sin most superhero movies commit at various points. There are a couple of scenes in which Peter Parker learns to use his powers, but they’re just enough to give us a feel for what he’s experiencing — they don’t go on and on and on. He slams into one wall and we get the idea that he’s a just a kid learning to cope with newfound powers. No season-long Greatest Amercian Hero bumbling here.
To be sure, there are elements of the film that don’t work for me. The Green Goblin is the Aquaman of super-villains. He’s lame lame lame. The movie doesn’t make him any less lame. In fact, his costume is just about the dumbest costume I’ve ever seen in a superhero film. What’s up with the rigid body suit and mask?
In all, Spider-Man is the best superhero film I’ve seen to date.
The latest issue of Entertainment Weekly has an article on the resurgence of superhero films, a genre that’s never been a mainstay of American cinema.
The success of the X-Men movie helped revive the flagging Marvel Comics empire, and spurred Marvel to begin production on a host of films based on its characters. Ang Lee (Sense and Sensibility, The Ice Storm and Crouching Tiger, Hidden Dragon) is making The Hulk (a film that would ordinarily leave me cold, but which I’ll see because of Lee). Ben Afleck is starring in an adaptation of Daredevil, one of my favorite superheroes. Another X-Men movie is in production, but I’ll skip that. Two Alan Moore properties are also on the drawing board: Watchmen is actually in production, and The League of Extra-Ordinary Gentelmen (with Sean Connery rumored to be interested) is in the formative stages. These movies, if done well, could be exciting.
It was difficult to rise this morning; we didn’t get to sleep until one o’clock last night.
Pam came over at 8 a.m. to join us for the annual Master Gardeners Show at the Clackamas County Fairgrounds (Mac went to his class room to do some work). The women and I braved the teeming masses, hunting for particular plants and making some impulse purchases. I bought five Thai basil plants, three Thai peppers, and a catnip. Kris, to apologize for her short temper earlier in the day, bought me a flower that I had admired, a daisy-ish white flower with purple central cone. I forgot to bring my new microcassette recorder, though, and regretted it; large crowds are a great opportunity to record conversations, a writer’s exercise.
When we returned home, Kris gave Pam the nickel garden tour. While they roamed the back yard, I lay on the grass, spread-eagled, eyes closed, and soaked in the sun. I listened to the birds (there are many of them now that May has come), to the little girl crying next door, to Kris and Pam talking about the plants. The sun was warm. A breeze rose and fell. I could smell the basil from my hands. Toto and Satchell came out to play, climbing on the raised beds, racing across the lawn.
Life is good.