SPIDER-MAN 2 review

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by David Blackwell

Two years ago was the first SPIDER-MAN movie and I didn't really like the movie. I was a big fan of the Spider-Man comics in the 1980s. Now 2004 sees the release of SPIDER-MAN 2. The sequel is a major improvement over the first movie even though I still have some issues with Sam Raimi's take on SPIDER-MAN. I do feel I could do a better SPIDER-MAN movie than Sam, but I did enjoy the sequel. I often wonder about the James Cameron take on SPIDER-MAN that never made it to film.

SPIDER-MAN 2 picks up about a year after the last movie. Peter is in college as he works two jobs and being Spider-Man. He keeps his distance from Mary Jane Watson and even late to a play she is due to him being spider-Man. He loses one job at the start of the movie. He meets one of his idols, Dr. Otto Octavius, a brilliant scientist working for OsCorp on the Fusion project. The Fusion test goes wrong and the tentacles attached to Otto's body become fused to his body. Soon after, Peter wonders if it is worth being Spider-Man as he wants to be with Mary Jane and do good in college. His choices and actions will define him as he tries to come to terms with who Peter Parker is.

The sequel is a big improvement over the first movie. I loved this sequel despite a couple of problems I had with it. I loved the in-jokes (Tobey's back problem and teh woman singing the Spider-Man song out-of-key) and references (to the comic book). Tobey Maguire fits the role very well this time where Kirsten Dunst just screams too much in this movie. Alfred Molina makes Doc Ock into a flawed and tragic villain.

The problems I have with this sequel are several. SPIDER-MAN 2 plays off too much as a drama (I wasn't bored). It takes half of the movie for Spider-Man to get into any big fight scenes. "The Raindrops In My Head" sequence made me groan and makes me suspect Sam Raimi is becoming too sentimental with his movies. Sam loves to do drama now where I miss the days when he pepper his movies with action scenes like in ARMY OF DARKNESS and DARKMAN. I do feel he takes a few liberties I didn't like: Spider-Man taking off his mask when he needs to stop a train and some train passengers see his face (and promise not to tell) and the angst of Peter Parker feeling he can't be with Mary Jane (Peter did have angst in the comics, but he still dated in the comics).

SPIDER-MAN 2 is the best comic book movie of the summer, but it isn't the best comic book movie made ever. The sequel leaves a little foreshadowing for the next movie. It just makes one wonder how far they will take it for SPIDER-MAN 3 in 2007. I just hope it opens with some major Spider-Man action against a known big villain from the comic book and not more Peter Parker drama as I wait for the action to kick in about half way into the movie.

(ENTERLINE 3.48) this review is (c)7-4-2004 David Blackwell and this review cannot be reprinted without permission. send all comments to lord_pragmagtic@hotmail.com  and look for additional content (and site updates) at http://www.livejournal.com/users/enterlinemedia