‘Mind Games’ (TV)


Please feel free to comment on my review.

It’s time for the two-part finale of this short-lived animated ‘Spider-Man’ series from 2003. I didn’t know what to expect from watching this two-parter and I hoped the series would have a second season. As a result, I have mixed feelings about this two-parter especially in how the tale concluded.

In ‘Part 1’, we have two new villains for Spidey to fight against. They’re the Gaines Twins – Roxanne (voiced by Kathy Griffin) and Roland (voiced by Jeremy Piven). They’re both highly sophisticated telepaths who can control weak-minded people. They get transported in an armoured convoy van. 😐

Unfortunately, when a well-planned traffic accident occurs, the Gaines Twins break free and they’re able to control their captors inside the convoy vehicle in order to escape. Before they escape, Spider-Man appears on the scene as he tries to stop them. He gets weakened by their telepathic powers. 😮

Eventually he overcomes their brain attacks and they get taken away. Later on, Spidey spends time with Mary Jane for a bit before he goes off to stop the Pterodax – the three former KGB agents-turned criminals from ‘Tight Squeeze’, as they’ve recently escaped. But Spidey has more troubles. 😮

It also turns out that Silver Sable has returned and has become allies with Kraven the Hunter (voiced by Michael Dorn). I was amazed to find out Michael Dorn voiced Kraven in this ‘Spider-Man’ story. In ‘Star Trek’ circles, Michael Dorn is known as Worf in ‘The Next Generation’ and ‘Deep Space Nine’. 🙂

After sorting out Kraven and Silver Sable, Spidey meets up with MJ again and they have a nice conversation together. Spidey then reveals that he’s Peter Parker underneath that mask to MJ. I hoped in this series that MJ would find out Peter was Spidey after all. Sadly, it didn’t turn out to be.

Kraven soon interrupts Spidey and MJ together and eventually kills MJ right before Spider-Man’s eyes. Yeah! MJ dies in ‘Part 1’. I was so shocked to see that as I hoped it wouldn’t happen. Peter/Spidey then gets persuaded by a man called Frank Elson (voiced by Stan Lee) to have revenge.

And it turns out all that happened with MJ dying never happened. It was all inside Spidey’s mind. The Gaines Twins have been controlling Spider-Man, manipulating him to kill Kraven since he killed their parents. Spidey goes out on a rampage to kill Kraven, unaware Mary Jane is still alive, but captured…

In ‘Part 2’, Spider-Man fights against Kraven with blind revenge. Kraven doesn’t understand why Spidey’s changed so much and Spidey is almost about to kill him by hanging him to death. But before he does that, Spidey notices his surroundings don’t match to what he recently remembered here. 😐

After clearing some facts with police officer Barr and getting some help from Indy at Empire-1, Spidey goes off to find and rescue MJ from the Gaines Twins at a warehouse next to the sea and near a church. MJ meanwhile is being mind-tortured by the Gaines Twins who hold her as a hostage.

Thankfully, Spidey manages to rescue MJ from the Gaines Twins’ clutches. Unfortunately, when he fights against the Gaines Twins and their mind powers, things take a turn for the worse. The twins use their mental powers to trick Spider-Man into harming Indy. This has him appear to be a murderer.

That was pretty shocking to see when I saw the episode. As much as I’m not a fan of Indy, it was heartbreaking that Spidey should accidentally strangle Indy. Although why he thought strangling one of the Gaines Twins was a good idea is anybody’s guess. But then, he wasn’t in a right frame of mind.

Everyone in New York is against Spider-Man by then, including J. Jonah Jameson and of course Harry Osborn. Mary Jane is disappointed that Spidey let everyone down too. It’s actually rather brave of the series to showcase Spider-Man making mistakes and having him appear to be a murderer is bold.

Of course we know Spidey didn’t mean to murder Indy, but even Peter becomes convinced that being Spider-Man makes things worse. But before Spidey can give up his webslinging, he has to tackle the Gaines Twins and end the terror once and for all. He soon finds them at a propane factory.

After defeating the twins in an explosive showdown at the factory, Peter Parker meets up with MJ the next day as he enters his room at his and Harry’s flat. MJ says similar words that Kirsten Dunst’s MJ said to Peter from the first ‘Spider-Man’ film before she says “I’m sorry I bothered you” to Peter.

This story and the TV series finishes with Peter Parker tightly packing up his Spider-Man suit and throwing it into the Hudson River, never to be seen again. Quite a downbeat ending, although if the series was given a second season, I hope Peter Parker did recover his suit and became Spidey again.

The DVD special features for this two-part story are as follows. On Disc 2 of ‘Spider-Man: The New Animated Series’, there are DVD audio commentaries on both episodes with director/executive producer Audu Paden, writer Morgan Gendel, writer Steve Kriozere and Spider-Man co-creator Stan Lee. There are also ‘Amazing Spider-Facts’ info-text commentary options on both episodes to enjoy. There are featurettes including ‘The Making of Spider-Man’, ‘Spider-Man Tech: Creating the Models’, ‘Spider-Man Tech: Animating Performance’ and ‘Spider-Man Music: The Composers’. There’s also an outtake reel; ‘Building with Layers’, the initial Mainframe pitch; an abandoned ‘Spidey-Sense’ test and rough animation.

‘Spider-Man: The New Animated Series’ is a pretty underrated series from 2003. I’ve fond memories of watching it when I saw it on DVD back in 2004 and I still hold a soft spot for it. I don’t think it’s a great ‘Spider-Man’ series, but it’s brave in trying to tell new stories with a contemporary approach. 🙂

There are issues with the stories and the characters from my point of view, but the thing that stands out for me is the friendship between Peter, MJ and Harry. Had this series been more of a tie-in to the original ‘Spider-Man’ movie trilogy, I think this new animated series could’ve been so successful.

‘Mind Games’ rating – 8/10

‘Spider-Man: The New Animated Series’ rating – 8/10

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