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A movie starring Tobey Maguire and Kirsten Dunst directed by Sam Raimi

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Sticky Situations for the Webbed Wonder

  • Jul 13, 2004
  • by
Rating:
+5
Pros: Tight package and well presented...the movie was good too. ;)

Cons: Having to wait til 2007 for the last leg of this trilogy!

The Bottom Line: Good for the whole family, on your own or with a date! The Bottom Line catches thieves just like flies!

In this middle portion of the Spiderman trilogy, Peter Parker has survived both his internal, and explosive external battles with the mad Green Goblin. However, all True Believers know that such victories are dubious wins at best and Peter's life is never an easy ride. This second web-spinning tale opens with a string of defeats and personal disasters that, while amusing to the viewers, leaves us wondering how a working class superhero keeps his chin above water.

The Story:

Everywhere Peter turns, there is Someone telling him that he isn't dependable, he disappoints them, he needs to get his act together, he's too lazy or just plain too broke to meet his commitments. The line, "If you've done six impossible things this morning, why not round it off with breakfast at Milliways, the Restaurant at the End of the Universe?" springs to mind. Spidey could easily pick up some extra cash doing commercials spots for Milliways, which would really come in handy. Instead, Peter tries desperately to juggle his own meager finances, his schoolwork, supporting sweet Aunt May, devoting attention to his troubled friend Harry, and the love of his life, Mary Jane. In between all that crime fighting and rescue work he does in his spare time.

Harry is increasingly obsessed with finding and destroying Spiderman, as he still believes that he is the one responsible for his father's death. Yet, he helps Peter (even though he continues to defend Spidey) by setting up time for him to talk to Dr.Otto Octavius. Peter has a paper already over due on Dr. Octavius' revolutionary theories and work on harnessing an endless cold fusion energy supply, and is quickly fascinated by the brilliant, charming and enthusiastic Otto. Peter always seems to know just the right people for putting him in the right place at the wrong time though.

At Otto's unveiling to the press, things go horribly awry, of course, costing Otto his sanity, his love, and his chances at ever sleeping on his back again. The explosion causes his highly intelligent robotic arms to burn out the 'inhibitor chip' that keeps them from interferring with his higher brain functions and leaves him unable to remove them. Doc Oc is born! Soon enough, he and all four of his slyly manipulative robotic arms are rampaging the city in search of enough funds to rebuild his project, proving to himself that his sweet Rosie did not die in vain. Harry Osborn who is being consumed by bitter and vengeful emotions cuts a deal with the Doc. The basic, "Bring me Spiderman and I'll give you whatever you want." contract. And all of this turmoil leaves Spidey on the run and Peter trying to remove the wedges put between himself and those he cares about most.


Thoughts on the Cast:

Tobey Maguire:
He really seems to be getting comfortable with the dual role of Spiderman and Peter Parker. I noticed the contrast between Spidey's flip humor and bold presence, and Peter's self-imposed shyness growing more prominent than in the first film. He does the whole 'stoically silent yet emotionally turbulent' bit very well too. Maguire has a good range and he displays it well here. I even enjoyed the tender, hesitant yet all-consuming love that just drips off Peter Parker. It'll be interesting to see if he can develop this dual character any further in the final film.

Kirsten Dunst:
I just love this girl. There's something wonderful in everything I've seen her do, even the films that left me wondering why anyone bothered. I first saw her is the delectable blend of innocence and evil as Claudia in "Interview with a Vampire", and was amazed at her performance for such a young actress. You couldn't get much farther away from that character than Mary Jane Watson. Yet, Dunst captures M.J.'s personality perfectly and gives us a wonderfully well-rounded love interest. She IS the smile that lights up a room. I never once stopped to question why Peter loves her.

James Franco:
What can I say about Harry Osborn? He always annoyed me. He's whiny, self-absorbed and basically has two modes, explosive or spineless. Franco does a good job with a very hard to like character. *Potential Spoiler* The end of the film has Harry discovering his father's secret lair and all that Green Goblin equipment, so obviously (as in the comics) the Goblin will rise again. I don't know if they'll stick with calling him Green Goblin, but I have to say that I'll be interested to see what Franco does with the role.

Alfred Molina:
Doc Oc was riveting. Molina did just a stunning job. He actually made me sympathize with and gave depth to a character that I've never connected with in that way before. Doc Oc is second only to Venom in my eyes when it comes to Spidey's villians, but I've just never been able to feel sorry for him before. Molina managed that And some great action scenes. I couldn't imagine anyone else in the role now.

Rosemary Harris:
Her portrayal of Aunt May has been consistant, solid, and entertaining. She does a wonderful job here of adding some spunk to the usually sweet, sad, and genteel Aunt May. Harris is so in tune with her character that it really carries some of the scenes where May's emotional conflicts surface. There is a scene where Peter finally tells her about his part in Uncle Ben's death and, stunned, May just leaves Peter at the table. I felt as bereft and dazed as Peter at this unspoken rejection from this generous and loving mother figure. Perfection.

J.K. Simmons:
Simmons is still a perfect J. Jonah Jameson and adds a wonderful and much needed comedic element in a film just loaded with depressing situations and darker elements. He's a pretty blunt and uncomplicated character, but that's Is Jameson's character.

Daniel Gillies as John Jameson doesn't have much to live up to here. Then again, he didn't have much to work with either. Jameson's son is a basic ordinary hero-type. A famous astronaut and all around 'nice guy'... and another love interest for M.J., of course. His introduction into the story does open up some possibilities for Spidey 3 though, as does the intro of ...

Dr. Curt Connors played by Dylan Baker. Another role that doesn't have too much to do with the story being told in This movie. Long-time fans of the Web-head though will recognize him as the future villian The Lizard, and we are left wondering how big a role he may play in the next film.

Ted Raimi, the director's brother, makes a cameo appearance as 'Hoffman', one of Jonah's underlings at The Daily Bugle. And his comedic addition was just as appreciated as the cameo of Bruce Campbell as a pocket-Nazi of an usher. All the other supporting cast do their jobs well and helped to make this film a really stunning action fantasy.

Final Thoughts and Impressions:

Sam Raimi did an excellent job of tightening everything up in this one. His trademark flair for promoting physical comedy dovetails so nicely with this subject, yet he managed to bring out the darker side to Peter's dual life so clearly. Very well done. Plenty of signature moves, like Spidey shooting a web and then tossing someone to its safety, too. I especially enjoyed the romantic moment between Spidey and M.J. suspended over the glittering lights of the city from one of his webs.

My only real complaint with the first Spiderman flick was the rather iffy CGI. I don't know if this was a director's influence, studio decisions, or what. As Sony Pictures Imageworks Inc is given credit for the work on both of these films, and after comparing the billing in the listed credits, I can only conclude that too much was outsourced with the first film.

There are a Lot more teams mentioned in the first list of credits and if that's what happened...it showed. The effects in this work were Much more presentable, nearly seamless and didn't have any of that scattered, rushed, unpolished feel of the first film. If you're looking for it, you'll spot the CGI, no doubt, but the presentation here is much more satisfying and allows the audience to suspend their disbelief without being distracted by shoddy effects.

There is a truckload of speculation on where they will be taking the final film. Harry Osborn is almost a given, but the possibility of Doc Oc returning hasn't been ruled out either. Sure, he Appears to die, but anyone who has ever followed a serial work like Spidey knows that Death is never as final as it appears. They also have opened up the options of pulling in The Lizard and telling Dr. Connor's story, which could be interesting. The slimmest possibility is the inclusion of Venom as the next villian. While Venom is my personal favourite, I would much rather see that storyline pursued After this Spiderman trilogy, if at all. I'm hoping that they stick to what they've been doing with the script and focus on one main figure for Spidey to combat. I wouldn't mind seeing one other bad guy have his say, but any more than that and they would be making the same mistake made with the X-men films, too much and too little. Too many characters included, too many storylines tangled together and they'll end up with too little to satisfy either the un-informed movie-goers Or the Marvel fans. No one would win with that scenario. I'd hate to see them drop the ball in the last film.

Personally, I have always loved graphic novels and I have been really enjoying this current trend of turning classic comics into big screen wonders. Even when I haven't been completely satisfied with the end result, like in X-men, I have still Enjoyed the experience. I look forward to other adaptations too and have hopes that I will see other comic book favs turned into stunning feature films. The Silver Surfer, Gambit, Venom, and even the classic, The Spirit by the godfather of the graphic novel, Wil Eisner are tops on my list of canidates. Unfortunately, at this time, the only two I can even find Rumors of are Gambit and Silver Surfer, but hope springs eternal!

In the end, True Believers and Un-intiated alike should be well pleased with Spiderman 2. It's got a little bit of everything; action, romance, humor, and even moments of suspense. Everything, the sets, the action, the script itself delivers a shining example of action fantasy. This one is well on it's way to being a classic in it's genre and stands proud as an stellar example for others to follow. Just remember folks, we'll be waiting til an estimated May 2007 before we'll be seeing the final chapter of this trilogy. See you at the theatre!


Recommended:
Yes

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October 07, 2010
awesome review! have you seen the extended 2.1 version?
October 07, 2010
Not yet... it's still on that every growing list of "Don't forget to watch these" fame. All in all, I've been pretty satisfied with the Spidey flicks. Extended viewing of something I already enjoy is sure to be a pleasure! :o) Thanks so much for taking the time to comment, always greatly appreciated, and I'm so glad you enjoyed the review! :o)
 
October 07, 2010
Obviously this was the high point in the Spidey films. Sam just bit off way more than he could chew in the third flick. My stomach just sank when I saw that the sole writers credits for three were Sam and his brother Ivan. Knowing that there was a shit load of villains in the flick and that they were on their own with the script, it wasn't going to be pretty.
October 07, 2010
Know what you mean. I would have been less apprehensive if they had just concentrated on one villian... when I saw who all they were trying to squeeze in... I knew I wasn't going to be so happy with this one. Venom is a complex villain that really requires its own stand alone film, or even a separate trilogy explaining both Venom and Carnage. Rami entertains me, but like Michael Bay, I don't expect things like depth or well developed plot from his films. I do think this middle film is the best of this lot though.
October 07, 2010
He did a really good job on A SIMPLE PLAN. But when it comes to writing, Sam is a great director. I don't think anyone could have handled a film with that many villains in it. I was genuinely disappointed in DRAG ME TO HELL. I'd been hoping for so much more. I don't think I got one genuine laugh out of the entire movie. Homages are fine but when you have an entire scene that's lifted out of POLTERGEIST you're going too far. And if you've seen CURSE OF THE DEMON you know where the film is going the minute you see the button and the coin are--oh well. Why am I getting upset about it all over again. I always knew that he was never a horror fan and his success in that area was purely accidental.
 
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Quinn Blackburn ()
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Hello, my name is Quinn... yes, that really is my first name. :o) I also answer to Mom, and occasionally Entwife. I enjoy Beauty wherever I find it... Nature, Music, Art in all its forms... I believe … more
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Sam Raimi's follow-up to SPIDER-MAN finds Peter Parker (Tobey Maguire) struggling to balance his everyday life with his alter ego as the web-slinging superhero. Still carrying the burden of keeping his crime-fighting identity from those closest to him--including his longtime love Mary Jane Watson (Kirsten Dunst), his best friend Harry Osborn (James Franco), and his doting Aunt May (Rosemary Harris)--Parker must also face off against a dangerous new menace, Dr. Otto Octavius (Alfred Molina), a scientist driven mad by experiments involving powerful mechanical arms. When the deranged Octavius (AKA Doc Ock) forms an alliance with the vengeful Osborn, who blames Spider-Man for the death of his father, the wall-crawling hero is in for his biggest battle yet.

With SPIDER-MAN 2, Raimi retains--and improves on--all of the elements that made the first film so good, including an excellent story (crafted, in part, by acclaimed novelist Michael Chabon), tight pacing, and stunning special effects. Parker's ...
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