Comics : Spider-Man 2: The Movie Storybook
This review was first published on: 2004.
Tying in with the Spider-Man movie, this is one of several books based upon the blockbuster film. Instead of using artists, the pictures are made up of still photos taken from movie footage.
The book is 48 pages, full color on glossy paper. Size is 8.25" x 11". Each page is mostly full-color movie photo, with between one and eight lines of text. I.e. it's really a picture book with text to fill in the story. If you're in a hurry, you could read this book cover to cover in under two minutes.
In fact, this is exactly the same "background" info for the "Spider-Man: The Movie Storybook" from the first movie, except that the number of pages has been dropped from 64 to 48 this time.
Spider-Man 2: The Movie Storybook
Jun 2004 : SM Title
Just like the first movie story book, this book is for the young'ns. Each page has between 2 and 15 lines of text, with an average of 7 or eight lines of large font text per page. Basically a single paragraph. The language is simple, with a very gentle vocabulary.
Naturally, with only 48 pages, a lot of the story needs to go by the wayside. Let's see what gets cut. First page. "Meet Peter Parker. Meet Spider-Man. Peter and Spider-Man are the same person. No one knows that except for Peter. Keeping such a big secret is not easy." Well, you get the tone of the text, so I'll dispense with the direct translations. Anyhow, I guess that's a pretty safe version of Peter's background. We can live with that. The paper is bright and white, the colors are vivid and rich, with beautifully cleaned photo art from the actual movie.
Next page. "Peter has been having a lot of trouble with life. He couldn't convince J. J. Jameson, his boss at the Daily Bugle, to buy his photographs of New York. Jameson only wanted pictures of Spider-Man." Sorry, I wasn't going to do direct excerpts. I'll stop. But you can see already that the Pizza Delivery thing is totally gone. The first ten minutes of the movie are cut!
Then Peter meets Dr. Connors, and is failing class. Peter looks at his watch... he's late for his own birthday! See already, in the movie Peter forgot his own birthday - but here he remembers. Harry and Mary Jane are there. MJ is his next door neighbour. Peter's pathetic, grotty flat and miserable landlord are cut, along with the landlord's lovelorn daughter. Snip! Snip!
MJ's an actress. Harry's at Oscorp, and he talks about Otto, and invites Peter to meet his idol. MJ is at the theatre. Peter has promised to be there tonight. Peter stays for cake with Aunt May... that beautiful, beautiful scene over the twenty bucks is cut. Sure, it's adult stuff. But dammit, I loved that scene. Peter goes to the show. Bad guys outside, Spidey, misses the show. But... NO JOHN JAMESON!
Then, the demonstration. But Peter never met and befriended Otto! That whole relationship at the core of the movie is removed. No tritium, or energy source, just un-named experiments. The arms go wild... and very strangely, there's two pages at the centre of the book with only text on them... and lots of blank space! Really, really strange!
There's four pages of Ock in hospital, and escaping. He doesn't kill anybody, just knocks them unconscious. Ock robs a bank to get money to continue his work. He escapes. The train scene is completely cut. Yet another beautiful scene, with all the New Yorkers seeing Peter's face, is all gone. Sure, it's another complex scene, but dear lord, what is left of this movie by now?
Peter stuffs his Spidey costume in a cardboard box. Ock goes to Harry and demands money, but Harry first demands Osborn kill Spidey, and tells him to look for Parker first. Harry doesn't actually get to find out Peter's identity! Peter puts on his costume, tracks down Ock, and defeats him. No deadly threat to New York, no death of Ock, no rescue of MJ.
Then finally, Peter meets MJ in the cafe scene, after Ock is in prison! They agree to try harder to be friends. Hah! Even though Peter is the one who always jerks MJ around! No wedding, no nookie, bah!
The back cover of this book proclaims... "Relive Spider-Man's exciting adventures in this photo-packed storybook!" Like, what? RELIVE? That would imply that you saw the film first! Damm, you would have to be in a severe final state of Alzheimers to think that this bastardization of a beautiful film was in any sense a "reliving".
The savage cuts in content actually meant cutting out pretty much all of the bits of the movie that really appealed to me. Like many people, I enjoyed the second Spidey movie even more than the first. I can't speak for others, but the aspects of the film I most enjoyed this time were the emotive bits, and the subtle interactions. All of that is completely gone in this book, we're left with the cold bare bones of the plot. Well, half the bare bones. Enough that the guys at CSI would probably conclude that some sort of crime may have been committed. Maybe not even bones. More like a DNA smear.
I couldn't possibly bear reading this book to my kids, I'm gonna put it on a shelf and never open it again. Perhaps a pre-teen who hadn't seen the film might enjoy reading this book to themselves, and seeing the photos as some sort of poor substitute... but really, the second movie just doesn't lend itself to this sort of treatment, and the result is a miserable, half-arsed adaptation. Sorry.
Plenty of gloss, but I can't give this hacked-up, washed-out "translation" more than a web and a half. Not good at all.