(2004)  

Alan:+

Ebert: Rolling Stone:1/2 TV Guide:



Warning, minor plot points revealed!

Spiderman 2 is not just a great movie.  It is, without a doubt, the greatest superhero movie ever made.  I know you won't believe me because I throw around the phrase "greatest ever" a lot, but as a super-fan of super-hero movies I can say without hyperbole that Spiderman 2 has set a new standard for the genre.  

The reviews, from those less fanatic than myself, prove it as well.  The film has thus far received a "perfect 100%" score from:  The Baltimore Sun, The Chicago Sun-Times, The Dallas Observer, Entertainment Weekly, The Miami Herald, Newsweek, The Onion, Premiere, The San Francisco Chronicle, USA Today, and Variety to name a few.  It also has set the record for opening single day box office with $40.5 million (beating the original record held by the first Spiderman movie at $39.4 million)

I guarantee you will want to turn around and go see this movie again before the credits have even finished rolling.  I can't stand the fact that I'm not sitting in the theater watching it right this minute.  I will most definitely be sneaking in to see Spiderman 2 as a "chaser film" with everything else I go see this summer.   And if you're a fan of the comic book series, then you will be even more ecstatic.  Many of the nuances and minutiae of the comics that were missing from the first film have been restored.  You may not, for example, have realized how strong Spidey really is.  

There's about 5 different stories going on at the same time during the film.  First off Peter Parker is starting to realize how much of his life he has sacrificed by being Spiderman.  Aunt May, is still despondent over the loss of her husband and is in dire financial need.  Peter himself is living on skid row, flunking out of college and getting fired from his pizza delivery job.  His relationship with Mary Jane has soured.  She has become a successful actress, moved on as best she could and is engaged to be married to a famous astronaut.   (The astronaut is coincidentally the son of Daily Bugle editor and chief J. Jonah Jameson)  Peter's best friend Harry Osborn is still seething because Spiderman killed his father who Harry did not realize was the super villain The Green Goblin.  Harry has taken control of his fathers company and is financing the work of scientific genius Dr. Otto Octavius.  Doc Ock's experiment goes dreadfully wrong and he emerges as a super villain himself, but one who is a bit more sympathetic than Gobby was.   Meanwhile the conflicted Spiderman is losing his powers and eventually quits the superhero business entirely.  

I suppose after reading this you would think the movie to be a horrible downer, but it's not!  What the story has done is captured the resonance of the comic.  Peter is always in doubt as a person and the public is never completely behind him as a superhero either.  It is a comic universe but it mirrors much of the real world.  That is it's power.  That is why everybody in the world loves it so much.  You can relate to Peter Parker.  His struggle is our own.  

The special effects of the movie are much better than the first and that's saying something.  I wrote in my original review for the first film that, "The special effects in this film are crazy-cool!  They have captured exactly the way comic geeks everywhere have imagined Spidey's movement."  Peter has perfected his web slinging acrobatic technique somewhat over the last 2 years.  He is more sure of himself and it shows in his movement.  This is displayed in every battle with Doc Ock as they move and fight on every plane and axis as well as in mid air.  There is a fight sequence on a train that will now forever be considered as one of the best action scenes ever filmed.  

Everything is bigger and better this time.  Doc Ock's mechanical tentacles are a near "Golem-like" achievement in sentient CGI.  The way the camera moves as it follows Spiderman through the city is pure Sam Raimi.  As a director, we see in Spiderman 2  the inclusion of Raimi's entire film resume (The Evil Dead series, Darkman, The Quick and the Dead, A Simple Plan, The Gift.)  Like David Fincher, Raimi keeps the camera in near constant motion.  It goes places you would never imagine at speeds and angles that mimic an amusement park ride.  

The actors are all fantastic.  I'm really glad Tobey Maguire made it back for the sequel.  I will be fine if he is replaced at some point by Jake Gyllenhaal (The Day After Tomorrow) but for now it was nice to have him back.  The role really is perfect for him.  He has that cute, quiet, nerdy, handsome, quality that makes you love him in pretty much every role he plays.  Kirsten Dunst is fine as Mary Jane but I don't love her as an actress and I would not miss her if she didn't come back for the next one.  James Franco is great as the now older and angrier Harry Osborn.  It will be fun to see him don his father's mask.  Rosemary Harris  does a fine job as Aunt May Parker.  She gets a bit more to work with this time although I doubt she would have survived her run in with Doc Ock.  J.K. Simmons is probably the best character in the Spiderman series as Daily Bugle chief J. Jonah Jameson.  He steals every scene he is in and he's in a lot of them this time.  It's hilarious to see him in the role especially if you are used to his T.V. performances as Dr. Skoda on Law & Order.  

Lastly, Alfred Molina is pitch and picture perfect as Doc Ock/Dr. Otto Octavius.  When I heard about his casting I was hesitant.  I like Molina but I was not able to picture him in the role.  Although you have probably seen him in many other films he may be most recognizable from one of his first film roles in Raider's of the Lost Ark.  During the opening sequence, "Throw me the idol and I'll throw you the whip!"  Do you remember him now?   Yeah, that was Alfred Molina getting his big break!  Anyway, after seeing Spiderman 2, I now can't really imagine anyone else in the role.  This was inspired casting and I applaud whoever thought of Molina as the perfect Doc Ock.  

Anyway, I could ramble on for hours but that would just waste precious seconds that you or  I could be at the theater watching Spiderman 2.  This is definitely THE movie of the summer so don't miss it.  Why are you still reading this?  Go!  It's playing in 4,152 theaters in North America right now so you can pretty much drive to the theater at any time of the day or night and see it.  Come on!  Swing on over to the show.  Support your friendly neighborhood spiderman. 

Note:  During the final scenes of the movie at the wedding for M.J. we see Harry Osborn wearing a green bow tie.  Watch for it!
Scoop provided to Projectalan by Comic Correspondent Will Turner