In Spider-Man 2, Sam Raimi and Tobey Maguire continue the geek chic motif of the original. This time Doctor Octopus (Alfred Molina, who perhaps needed a break from playing fathers who hit on their daughters), perhaps the greatest Spider-Man villain, tries to get the tritium he needs to build some energy device.
That’s the usual quasi-scientific mumbo-jumbo out of the way. Ultimately, Spidey is the superhero franchise that most emphasises the human qualities not only of its hero, but of its villain, and indeed much, perhaps too much, of the movie is devoted to Peter Parker rather than Spidey. Parker’s depressed. Worse yet, the call of duty has caused him to appear to be a flake, forever bungling meetings with Mary Jane. Depression, frustration – sometimes who you have to be gets in the way of who you want to be. Small wonder Parker chucks the Spider-Man costume in an alley trashcan.
Throughout that doleful first hour, Maguire as always captures accurately the angst of a superhero teen, and with her glazed eyes and flighty sense, Kirsten Dunst is rightly cast as the romantic foil for a hero who – by dint of his night job – can’t always be there.
The film has lots of moments for fans of the comic book (a visual homage to the iconic “Spider-Man no more” cover chief among them). More importantly, some serious thrills – when Spidey rescues Aunt May, for one – help restore joy to Spidey’s angst-ridden life. It’s like learning to live with your family: Peter thought that growing up meant ridding himself of Spider-Man – ultimately it meant growing into the persona. But that soaring kid, swooping as he tested the limits of his then new-found powers, is no more – Spider-Man still roams the skyscraper canyons, but he’s an adult now, and you can’t help but feel that while he may have retrieved his costume back from the trash, he must have left his sense of wonder inside. Ultimately, Spider-Man 2 is a good, well-executed movie, but it’s hardly the pure pleasure of the first.Powered by Sidelines