Sunday, 4 July 2004

Spider-Man, Brando, and the 4th of July

Yesterday I went to see Spider-Man 2. I would have to see it again, but I think it may well have been better than the first movie. For me, the great weakness of Spider-Man was that Harry Osborn/the Green Goblin seemed woefully underdeveloped as a character. Other than the failure of his business, one really did not know why Norman became the Goblin. This is not the case with Spider-Man 2. Otto Octavius, AKA Dr. Octopus, is possibly one of the best developed super-villains on film. Alfred Molina gives a convincing performance as the likable, if overly ambitious, scientist, Dr. Octavius, who becomes Doc Ock through an unfortunate accident. The other characters are better developed as well, including Mary Jane Watson. Little more than the token love interest in the first film, MJ comes into her own in this movie (although I would still rather that they had used Gwen Stacy in both films). The movie also has some of the best action scenes ever to appear in a superhero movie. In fact, a fight between Spider-Man and Dr. Octopus aboard a train may be one of the greatest fights in any superhero film. Of course, the movie would have failed if the special effects were not convincing. Fortunately, they are. Dr. Octopus is one of the most realistic CGI characters since Gollom in The Lord of the Rings. I don't know that I can say Spider-Man is the greatest superhero film of all time, as some critics have, but it is definitely in the top five.

Marlon Brando died Thursday at age 80. He is largely considered one of the greatest actors of our time and it is hard to argue with that. He was one of those actors who could give convincing performances in totally different roles, ranging from Johnny Strabler in The Wild One to Don Corleone in The Godfather to Col. Kurtz in Apocalypse Now. Of course, he could be controversial at times. He rejected the Oscar he won in 1972 for his performance in The Godfather (for now, I suppose the less said about that the better).

Our cable compnay finally added KZOU, the local UPN affiliate, to our line up. Unfortunately, they replaced the St. Louis PBS station, KETC (which had been on our line up for as long as we have had cable), with some PBS station out of Nebraska. I have know idea what their reasoning for doing so is. First, KETC has better programming. On Saturday nights and some times on Sunday nights, they show classic movies. Last night they were showing My Darling Clementine and The Manchurian Candidate. KETC is also on 24 hours a day most days of the week. This Nebraska station shows no old movies and closes its doors at 11:35 PM. Second, KETC is a Missouri station and we live in Missouri. A lot of KETC's programming, such as gubernatorial and senatorial debates, would be of interest only to Missourians. Will we see the debate between the Democratic and Republican Missouri gubernatorial candidates this fall on this Nebraska station? I doubt it. I have nothing against Nebraska. It is a nice state. But I would rather see a station that pertains to me as a Missourian.

Well, today is July 4th. I always loved July 4th as a child. I still do. Growing up, we almost always had watermelon for Independence Day. Indeed, I associate watermelon with July 4th the same way most people associate turkey with Thanksgiving. I also remember that for many years CBS would air Yellow Submarine on the night of July 4th. In fact, it may have been on Independence Day that I first saw the movie. Of course, most of all, I remember the fireworks. We lived on a farm, so we could safely set off fireworks without worrying about burning down houses. If it hadn't rained, we would water down everything before hand. It was fun. While our displays may not have been as good as the ones I saw in town, they were at least our own. And I think we did a pretty good job for amateurs pyrotechnicians. (-:

Of course, I think too many people forget the meaning of the 4th of July. It was on this date in 1776 that the Thirteen Colonies declared their independence from the United Kingdom. While it would be 1787 before the Constitution was written and signed, I think it is fair to say that July 4th, 1776 could be considered the beginning of our country. While the barbecues and fireworks that take place today will no doubt be enjoyable, I do think it is important that Americans remember the true significance of this date.

Be seeing you!

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