Written by Alvin Sargent
Directed by Sam Raimi
Running Time: 2:07
for stylized action violence.
Spider-Man 2 picks up where the first one left off. The movie is filled with great visual effects, some funny moments and a good story, but it was lacking something to make it a great movie.
The story picks up two years after the original. Peter/Spider-Man hasn't been seen much since a majority of the people (including the influential editor of the paper) thinks he's more of a menace than hero. His beloved Mary-Jane is dating someone else, and his best friend Harry still wants revenge on Spider-Man for killing his father. Peter has been reduced to delivering pizzas to make a living, but even that isn't going well. Meanwhile, Harry is funding Dr. Otto Octavius in his attempt to create cold fusion and revolutionize the world. But something goes horribly wrong, and Doc Ock becomes fused with 4 mechanical artificially intelligent arms that give him tremendous powers. Normally Spider-Man would be there to protect the city, but Peter is losing faith in his abilities, and with the prospect of losing the woman he loves, Peter decides that being Spider-Man is too much. But when Mary Jane is taken captive, Spider-Man is resurrected to save the day. In doing so however, his identity is revealed to the people that matter most, and that could spell trouble.
For many, myself included, what I liked most about the original was that it wasn't just a superhero action-adventure filled with special effects; it had a heart. We got to see Peter Parker transforming into something he never expected, and how hard it was to deal with that. In the sequel, he continues the battle within, but the stakes are still the same. I guess my biggest problem was that there was nothing new for him to deal with. It was still about Mary Jane, and his love for her, and not wanting to put her in danger. It was still about whether or not he wanted to have the pressure of always having to save the day. The story lines were delved into a lot more, almost to the point of slowing the movie down. There are only so many times I can watch Tobey Maguire and Kirsten Dunst look into each others eyes and not say anything. For a good chunk of the last half of the film, Doc Ock wasn't even shown. It was like the movie wasn't about Spider-Man saving the day, but about saving his own soul. And while that's all well and good and noble, the dialogue between Peter and Mary Jane was extremely cheesy and verging on the edge of comical. Obviously, having a strong story line to support great special effects is what made the original such a hit, I just didn't feel that this movie had as strong a connection. The time between Peter and Mary Jane was so much it got to the point where every time the two of them would be on screen alone, I got bored. Yes I like their story, I just didn't feel there was a need to show it as often as they did. I thought they could have used more of James Franco's character, especially since he's going to play a major role in the next film, and he had a lot to do with Peter's emotions in this film.
There were some tremendous action sequences, with the highlight probably being the battle between Spider-Man and Doc Ock on top of the subway car. That one sequence showed off amazing computer effects but also was the defining moment in the Peter Parker/Spider-Man story. It was almost as if you could see in Peter's eyes that this is what he was meant to do, even if it meant that the rest of his dreams had to be set aside. I didn't feel as if the special effects had progressed any in the last two years, at least when it came to Spider-Man flying around the city. Doc Ock was a good looking character, but his character's end sequence looked extremely poor considering the amount of money they spent on the film.
(If you don't want to ruin the funny parts, skip this paragraph). I'd have to say the best thing about the movie was how irreverent it was, especially in the first half. Peter, needing to deliver 8 pizzas in just a few minutes decides to turn into Spider-Man to try and get there on time. Then when he gets there, he changes in a broom closet and can't put the brooms back in. The funniest thing was that it just kept going and going and going and you could feel his embarrassment. Then he starts the whole story about how he becomes unsure of himself and loses his powers temporarily, so the only way down off a tall building is to take the elevator. That part is made even funnier by the appearance of Hal Sparks telling him his costume looks like it's a pain to wear and having Spider-Man say 'it kind of itches. And it rides up in the crotch a bit.' I loved the 'Raindrops Keep Falling on my Head' portion, especially with the freeze frame ending. But the best part, the inside joke to people who followed the making of part two, is when Peter Parker tries to jump a building but misses, and when he lands he stands up and complains about how much his back hurts. As some of you know, just before filming started on the sequel, Tobey Maguire was complaining that he had back problems and he might not be able to make the film, so this was a small dig at that. The one thing that would have made that scene arguably the funniest in any movie this year, would have been to have had Jake Gyllenhaal there to pick him up off the ground.
(OK, you can read again). I felt the actors as a whole were stronger than last time. Like most sequels, the actors were now comfortable with their roles, and there wasn't any need to develop them from scratch. Tobey was again great as Spider-Man, showing real raw emotions and making you believe that even though he has these tremendous abilities, they were ripping him apart inside. James Franco too brief turn as Harry Osbourne was strong and scary. He had a crazed look in his eyes the entire time, and the end of the movie with his character was a great set-up for part three. Alfred Molina did a fine turn as Doc Ock, even though some of his dialogue was also kind of cheesy. The only actor I had a problem with was Kirsten Dunst. There is no depth to her character, at least as portrayed by her. I never feel like she has an emotion. Her facial expressions are always the same and her voice rarely changes. And I'd have to say my favorite character was J.K. Simmons as editor-in-chief, J. Jonah Jameson. His take on the character is always funny and he never lets up that gruff exterior. He had me laughing every time he opened his mouth.
THE BOTTOM LINE
So overall, I did enjoy Spider-Man 2 but probably not as much as a majority of people will. It looked good, it was very funny, had some great action sequences, and once again told a solid story, but there was something missing. For me, it's still not the definitive Spider-Man movie.