Spider-Man has been my favorite comic book character, nay my favorite fictional character (although he is very real to me) of all time. His quick wit, strong morals, and penchant for ass kicking, helped shape the way I viewed life. I already spun my web around the first film, and we take an in depth look at the origin tale here, and now we look at the sequel! Spider-Man 2 at the time of it’s release, was near perfect for a Spider-Man film. The action was intense, the acting superb, and the dialogue was at it’s best. Tobey Maquire delivered another stellar performance as Peter Parker/Spider-Man, and Alfred Molina stole the show frequently with his turn as Doctor Octavius/Dr. Octopus. Kirsten Dunst is back as Mary Jane Watson and delivers another solid performance. Now I say near perfect, because there are some low spots, not nearly enough jokes from Spider-Man, and the action, though a lot more packed than the first film, still wasn’t enough for Spidey. Another thing that bugged me was Spidey kept taking his damn mask off every five minutes, but I am jumping way ahead of myself, let’s start the review of Sam Raimi‘s blockbuster film, Spider-Man 2.
The movie starts out with Spider-Man fighting crime and….wait, no it starts out with Peter Parker rushing across the city trying to deliver pizza. (looks at BLU-RAY box, yep it’s Spider-Man 2) So Parker is a pizza delivery guy and he is always running late, and not dependable because of his Spider alter ego, it’s a running theme, so he decides to dawn his spandex and web swing across town to deliver the pizza. It is a rather humorous scene, and sets the tone for how Parker is reacting to being Spider-Man all the time. After another failed job, and getting yelled at by J Jonah Jameson who is intent on ruining his super hero persona, and learning he is failing class, Peter seems to be at his end. He is late for his own birthday and just when things seem to be at their worst, his best friend Harry(Franco) offers him a great deal, meeting his idol doctor Otto Octavius. Of course Peter gets to hear Harry slam him as well, as his hatred for Spider-Man is equal to none.
Parker learns that Aunt May is in great financial struggle as the house is being foreclosed on. His world is slowly crushing around him and he has no escape in sight. There is a bright spot though, and that is the girl of his dreams, Mary Jane Watson (Dunst). Her love for Pete is enough to keep him going, even though he is trying his best not to get involved with her. Of course even this comes crashing down, as he learns Mary Jane is in a relationship and it is quite serious. At Peter’s apartment he is hassled by his overbearing landlord, a month behind on his rent, wow they are really laying it thick on poor Spidey aren’t they?
Finally we move on to something uplifting, Parker meets his idol, doctor Octavius, who also lays into Peter as well. Seriously Raimi, we love Spider-Man, sheesh. Anyway, Octavius shows off his new science thingy, a mini sun that will create perpetual energy, he uses a lot of big words and name drop a lot of scientists. Otto explains about life and love, and never bottling up and hiding it away. A great poem from TS Elliot is spoken, very touching. Pete starts studying up on his poetry, maybe in an attempt to woo a certain red head? Time will tell. We are treated to some more humorous moments in the life of Spider-Man, which are handled well. We finally get the big moment, he is going to see Mary Jane’s play, things are looking up for our hero, and wait what’s this? Crime is afoot! No time for a show, it’s action time!
Finally, we get to see our hero in action, doing what he does best, kicking ass, and unmasking himself, damn it Pete. A brief action scene later and our hero makes it to the play, late. Of course. This isn’t gonna end well, and oh wait, BRUCE CAMPBELL! Anyway, yep, poor Pete, Spidey has really turned his life upside down. Oh hey a Chinese woman is singing the Spider-Man theme song, worth the price alone folks! Cop cars go blaring and oh no, Spidey fell out the sky! His powers are fading, could it be his broken heart? Parker takes an awkward elevator ride home and now he has to piece together his life.
The time has come for Dr. Octavius to unveil his latest experiment, and his knew shiny toy, brain-controlled robotic arms which are controlled by his brain! It looks amazing, and a tad uncomfortable. These are basically highly advanced rubber gloves they use to play with plutonium, but you know… SCIENCE! We see the experiment and of course it fails horribly and scars the good doctor and kills his wife. Harry’s bankroll bl0ws up in his face, literally, and Octavius is ruined. At the hospital the medical staff examines the extent of the damage to Otto, his arms go crazy and murder every single person there. He is now the crazed, Doctor Octopus, and wreaks havoc in the city with his knew found power. Jameson is giddy with joy as this gives him ample opportunity to run headlines.
Parker finally gets a paying gig, taking photos of high society. Meanwhile Doc Ock officially looses his mind. He decides to rebuild. But step one, rob the bank! He just so happens to rob the one that Peter and his Aunt are at, and in no time Spider-Man is on the scene and holy crap are we treated to one of the finest fight scenes to grace a comic book movie. Seriously, the CGI is flawless, the action is intense, and the punches are painful. Go watch this scene again, it’s like five minutes of pure Spidey bliss. Aunt May is of course thrown in peril, as Doc Ock uses her as a human shield of sorts against Spider-Man. Spidey saves May, but loses Doc Ock, and the money. The police of course, they don’t manage to hit Ock once.
At the social elite gathering, Parker takes pictures of the high class, and is pushed around by Jameson. He spots MJ on the arm of John Jameson, successful astronaut, and learns they are getting married. She of course tells him off again, and Harry, in a drunken stupor, yells at Parker and assaults him. We get it, Parker’s life is in shambles. Spidey’s powers fail him yet again, and he must face it, his life is over. He hangs up the suit. Back in where ever the hell Otto is, outskirts of the city, he is in the process of building a new lab. Where he ordered the very expensive parts from, and who delivered them are very questionable, and should be investigated by the authorities, yet he continues to build. Making it, bigger, stronger, better.
We are treated to another extended scene, this one of Mary Jane talking to her friend. Could have been left out. Pete does the sensible thing and talks to a doctor about him losing his powers, in his dream of being a Spider-Man. He gets the idea of not being Spider-Man, of being just a normal guy. Turning his back on his responsibility. Even after a powerful dream, he decides, no more. And so a new life starts for Peter, and gee whiz, it is already ten times better. No stress or worry about saving others, just looking out for yourself. Parker does it well. We see a nice montage of how everything immediately bounces back for him. Grades are improving, his social life is better, he even makes up with Mary Jane, but you know, she is still getting married.
The transition hasn’t been the easiest, everywhere Parker turns, there is crime. Oh, get the extended Blu-Ray, there is a scene with J Jonah Jameson that is priceless. J.K. Simmons is excellent and gives a great comedic performance. Peter finally confesses to Aunt May about what happened to Uncle Ben and well she doesn’t take it well. Back in the rundown whatever it is, Doc Ock has finished his lab, and now needs the precious tritium to complete his experiment. Of course the only way to get it is to threaten Harry Osborn. Harry agrees to get it for him, if he brings him Spider-Man.
On his way somewhere, Parker runs across a building on fire, and helps save a child, but learns that a man died as well. A job perhaps Spider-Man could have handled? His conscience eats away at him, turn between his wants and his needs. His aunt is moving and she lectures him some more. The lecture lasts for awhile, basically about heroes and such. The lecture strikes a nerve, and he tries to get his mojo back, but it just isn’t there. He meets with Mary Jane for a cup of coffee, and wouldn’t you know it, Doc Ock shows up, demanding Spider-Man. He throws a car through the window, it is awesome. Doc Ock gives an ultimatum, find Spider-Man or else, of course, Peter knows where he is *wink*. Peter finally learns that he cannot escape his responsibility and takes up the mantle of Spider-Man again, to face off against Octavius. Holy crap is this fight amazing. The subway fight scene is one of the most visually impressive things I’ve seen in a movie. Doc Ock throws people from the train and everything. It ends with Spider-Man having to stop a high speed, moving train, breathtaking. Of course Doc Ock manages to take him, after he passes out and surrenders him to Harry. Doc Ock now has the means to conduct his dangerous, and possibly, city-leveling experiment, and Harry will now exact his revenge, how will Spider-Man escape this predicament, and can he stop Doc Ock before the city is destroyed?
Wow, first I just want to say that this movie still lives up to the greatness of when it was released. It looks absolutely flawless. The CGI is the best there is. Honestly only a handful of films have CGI of this quality, even the new film, The Amazing Spider-Man, doesn’t have this quality. It is woven into each scene perfectly, the fights are executed expertly, and the web swinging looks great. Secondly, Alfred Molina, seriously steals the show. Each scene he appears in is captivating. His turn as the psychotic yet sympathetic Doctor Octavius is perfect. It helps that his outfit doesn’t look like a rejected Power Rangers suit. He adds a new level of villainy to the series. Where as the Green Goblin was psychopathic almost from the get go, and new he was being evil, Doc Ock justifies his actions, because he feels he is the hero of the world. Even with scenes as hokey as him arguing with his arms, Molina delivers them with such passion and talent, you can’t help but believe it.
Maguire is great again as Peter Parker. He is nerdy, pathetic, naive, and sympathetic. You really feel bad for him and life just keeps piling it on. The only problem is they never let him be Spider-Man. Sure he dons the suit and fights and web swings, but where is the wise cracking Spidey from the comics? The guy who will make a bad pun about the lizard as he is trying to rip his face off? The man who calls Mysterio fishbowl? The second film in a row where no quips are spouted out, and no puns are delivered awkwardly. I could forgive the first film, as they were establishing the character, but this one, it should have delivered. Raimi packs in the humor, with a lot of gags and jokes, but none from Spidey himself. Hell Jameson racks up more one-liners in five minutes, than Spidey does in the whole movie. Kirsten Dunst still enjoys playing the damsel in distress, and she does it well again in this film. The chemistry between her and Maguire is pretty strong. The one aspect Raimi did very well was the love story. You really feel their pain and their longing for each other. But damn it, let him crack jokes!
The rest of the cast play up their roles admirably, except Franco. He is all over the place. Spoiled rich kid, grieving son, vengeful man, wacky friend, he hits all the notes. And well, it feels very forced each time. He does have a few bright spots, but mostly he yells a lot. Speaking of yelling, J.K. Simmons is on fire. His take on Jameson is perfect. No other character since Tony Stark, has been cast this brilliantly.
This movie is still incredible, and the Blu-Ray is visually stunning. A must buy. Raimi packs in the humor, drama and action into a 2 hour spectacle. 2 hours and 15 with the extended, and although most extended scenes are lackluster there is one that is amazing. There are homages to Raimi’s earlier work, The Evil Dead, especially when Doc Ock is born. Plus the various cameos that are laced through out. Granted he beats us over the head, repeatedly, and at great length, about how bad it is to be a super hero, but man once the action starts, it kicks ass. Not as many inspired shots as there were in the last film, but we do get a very compelling view of Peter quitting Spider-Man, that was ripped right from the comics. Well played Raimi, well played.