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Spider-Man 2

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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.

(This review first appeared in Delta Sierra Arts, part of the Daryl Sng blog)

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  • Eric Olsen

    we just got it also, and though I agree with Daryl that it didn’t have the giddy ebullience of the first one, it was a very good story and worked as a movie movie completely apart from the superhero trappings, and the acting is just great: Maguire and Dunst work as a classic romantic couple with a real sense of depth to the characters and the relationship

  • I picked this up this past weekend, with some reservations that sequels of comic book movies are usually not so good.

    But, great googly-moogly, not only was this fun for Raimi fans (many jokes from Evil Dead for example), but it actually worked both as a movie on its own, but tied into the first movie and led to further movies (Dr. Connors who becomes The Lizard). Best of all, it had a really good story, which was served by great visuals, which is the inverse of most comic book movies.

    And the DVD release, how cool is the 2 disc set. I still haven’t gotten through most of the material, but it spells value.

  • Very nice review. I really enjoyed the trials and tribulations of this one. I especially liked the scene where the train passengers passed Spiderman’s body back away from danger after he saved them. That vulnerability and acceptance of someone that they were unsure of was a pinnacle moment in the movie. I don’t know much about the comics to know if that was ok with that crowd, but I loved that scene.