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Flashback Review: Spider-Man 2

Jun. 27, 2012by: Chris Bumbray

In anticipation of THE AMAZING SPIDER-MAN's July 4th opening, here at JoBlo.com, we've decided to take a look back at the original SPIDER-MAN trilogy; a franchise that came to illustrate just how good a superhero film could be (SPIDER-MAN 2), and how badly a series could go awry (SPIDER-MAN 3).


After SPIDER-MAN hit theaters in the summer of 2002, and raked in over $800 million worldwide, a sequel was a no-brainer, and only two years later, SPIDER-MAN 2 hit theaters. At one point, it looked like Tobey Maguire, who already seemed to be tiring of the typecasting linked to the part, wasnt going to return to play Spider-Man, and Jake Gyllenhaal was actually waiting in the wings in case he called it quits. Of course, a huge paycheck lured Tobey back to the part, and the result was a film that was universally acclaimed by audiences, fans, and critics alike.

Eight years later, how does SPIDER-MAN 2 hold up? Extremely well, and it stands as one of the top-tier superhero movies to ever hit the big-screen, comparing favorably with the later IRON-MAN, and even THE AVENGERS, although Id put it a notch below BATMAN BEGINS/ THE DARK KNIGHT, and the great, unsung- X-MEN: FIRST CLASS (not to mention X2).

The reason the film works as well as it does is mostly due to director Sam Raimis continued focus on Peter Parkers inner turmoil. Working from a great script by Alvin Sargent (among others), SPIDER-MAN 2 opens with Parker, now a few years into being SPIDER-MAN, having brushed off his best friend Harry (due to his lingering guilt over his part in his father Norman/Green Goblins death, and the fact that Harry flies into a near-homicidal rage every time he hears the name Spider-Man), and avoided Mary-Jane. Now, Peters living in a disgusting one-room flat, eking out a meager living as a pizza delivery boy, while continuing his studies. Once he learns Mary-Jane is now engaged to J. Jonah Jamesons pretty boy son, he goes off the rails- eventually quitting his superhero duties altogether, to pursue Mary-Jane.


Of course, this is called SPIDER-MAN 2, and not PETER PARKER 2, so before long he dons his tights once again to fight the iconic Doc Ock, an unfortunate scientist who, after an accident, has metal arms molded to his back- and quickly goes nuts. Raimi balances the spectacle (with the climactic train sequence being a standout) and the darker, more emotional parts of the film beautifully, although- if one looks, the seeds of SPIDER-MAN 3s idiocy are planted here, with a too jokey montage set to Raindrops Keep Fallin On My Head demonstrating Parkers new-found freedom (complete with a freeze-frame we all thought was funny in 2004, but now suggests exactly the route wed be going down a few years hence).

SPIDEY: Maguire, despite almost quitting the part, gives a solid performance, although I feel that his dedication to the part was already wearing thin by this, with his physique noticeably less impressive than it was in the first film, and the trend towards self-parody already taking hold. Still, hes good enough that nobody who saw this in its initial release had any complaints.


VILLAIN: Following Willem Dafoe is no easy task, but Alfred Molina is up to it with his nuanced, tragic performance as Doc Ock. Even more sympathetic than Norman Osborn, Ock starts off as a nice-enough guy, but inadvertently causing his wifes demise (not to mention getting giant robotic arms welded to his back) - he goes a little funny in the head. It all comes together in a nicely tragic conclusion.

MUSIC: No Chad Kroger this time, and the pop rock takes a back-seat to Danny Elfmans score- which plays very much like a retread of the first film. That said, numerous reports suggest that Elfman and Raimi had a major falling out over the project, and Elfman, who used to be Raimis go-to guy has never worked with him again. Rumor has it large chunks of his score were dropped and replaced. A sad end to a great collaboration- as Elfmans score to DARKMAN (not to mention his theme for ARMY OF DARKNESS) is brilliant.

RECEPTION : SPIDER-MAN 2 didnt quite measure up to the first film financially, but it did almost as well, grossing $373 million domestically, and another $375 million internationally, for another mammoth worldwide total of $783 million. It also fared much better than the first film critically, and for a time was considered the finest superhero film ever made.

Source: JoBlo.com

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12:55PM on 06/27/2012

Its Perfect!

To me, this movie is a 10 out of 10, no questions asked, This movie is the perfect blend of superhero action suspense and our hero's inner psychological & emotional toll from his job because it keeps hampering his personal life. I don't think any other superhero movie balances this beautifully between the extra-ordinary life of a super-powered hero and its burden on his personal & romantic life which keeps going off the rails. As for that "Raindrops;;;" montage, I have to say its a wonderful
To me, this movie is a 10 out of 10, no questions asked, This movie is the perfect blend of superhero action suspense and our hero's inner psychological & emotional toll from his job because it keeps hampering his personal life. I don't think any other superhero movie balances this beautifully between the extra-ordinary life of a super-powered hero and its burden on his personal & romantic life which keeps going off the rails. As for that "Raindrops;;;" montage, I have to say its a wonderful sequence.....You can't blame a good thing (I'd argue a great thing) to be bad, just because it will have somekind of a resemblance with an awful thing in the future.

I don't know how much better or worse THE AMAGING SPIDER-MAN is going to be comparing to the orginal trilogy, but I think I can safely say that no other new Spidey movie can beat the sheer quality & its' emotional punch of SPIDER-MAN 2, ever.
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7:42AM on 06/27/2012
Completely disagree with the "Raindrops are Falling On My Head" complaint. That scene showed Sam Raimi's sense of humor, which, yes, can be very cheesy and goofy and was taken too far in the third film, but the future failures of Spider-Man 3 doesn't ruin the comedy of this moment in Spider-Man 2. This moment showed restraint compared to the third film, and allowed for Sam Raimi to put his personal touch on the movie without ruining the experience, in the same way that the Doc Ock horror
Completely disagree with the "Raindrops are Falling On My Head" complaint. That scene showed Sam Raimi's sense of humor, which, yes, can be very cheesy and goofy and was taken too far in the third film, but the future failures of Spider-Man 3 doesn't ruin the comedy of this moment in Spider-Man 2. This moment showed restraint compared to the third film, and allowed for Sam Raimi to put his personal touch on the movie without ruining the experience, in the same way that the Doc Ock horror surgery sequence reminded the audience of his horror-genre past. In small doses, it can be entertaining, which is why I don't hold Spider-Man 3 against that montage in Spider-Man 2, because one movie represents restraint and a taste of his humor, while the other shows what happens when his jokes overpower the story. Raimi is friends with the Coen brothers, and while I enjoy their sense of humor, I didn't particularly like Burn After Reading because I felt it didn't show any restraint; it was over-the-top and that detracted from my experience. However, that didn't change my enjoyment of other Coen brothers comedies. That moment in Spider-Man 2 worked within the context of this movie. Besides, it doesn't even compare to how bad the humor and cheesiness got in the third movie. The strutting scene is way to ridiculous and makes the "Raindrops" sequence seem tame. Raimi and his brother co-wrote the third script, so his humor came through more clearly. Unfortunately, without restraint, it bogged down the story, which is one of the third film's problems, but not a major concern in the second.
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6:32AM on 06/27/2012
This was without a doubt the best of the trilogy. This movie dealt very well with the relationships Peter has with everyone around him, especially Dr Octavius and Harry Osborn. Alfred Molina was absolutely stunning as Doc Ock, tragic and almost Shakespearian in a way. The movie handled the robot arms excellently; those things looked very scary. That moment where he's lying on his back in the operating theatre and the arms just take out all the surgeons and doctors was amazing.
This was without a doubt the best of the trilogy. This movie dealt very well with the relationships Peter has with everyone around him, especially Dr Octavius and Harry Osborn. Alfred Molina was absolutely stunning as Doc Ock, tragic and almost Shakespearian in a way. The movie handled the robot arms excellently; those things looked very scary. That moment where he's lying on his back in the operating theatre and the arms just take out all the surgeons and doctors was amazing.
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10:53AM on 06/27/2012

The BESt of the trilogy !

I'll go a bit 'trash press' here, but there is more about the 'almost drop the part' from Maguire...
The thing is, him and Dunst date each other during the shooting of the first film, but broke up the most UGLY way possible (to the point they wouldn't want to do interviews of press conference in the same room). And when Maguire threatened to drop the part, Dunst said they should ask her THEN boyfriend, Jake Gyllenhaal. And when Maguire heard about that he magically changed his mind...
Maguire
I'll go a bit 'trash press' here, but there is more about the 'almost drop the part' from Maguire...
The thing is, him and Dunst date each other during the shooting of the first film, but broke up the most UGLY way possible (to the point they wouldn't want to do interviews of press conference in the same room). And when Maguire threatened to drop the part, Dunst said they should ask her THEN boyfriend, Jake Gyllenhaal. And when Maguire heard about that he magically changed his mind...
Maguire and Dunst relationships went from bad to worst after that !
Knowing this make even more difficult to believe in the relationship they're supposed to have onscreen...
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12:52PM on 06/27/2012
Man, I hope Andrew Garfield and Emma Stone don't go down the same road. Those two are perfect together on and offscreen.
Man, I hope Andrew Garfield and Emma Stone don't go down the same road. Those two are perfect together on and offscreen.
2:35AM on 06/27/2012
**SPOILER ALERT**
I'd give it 9/10. What I didn't like is the movie didn't explain why Spider-Man was losing his power and he gained back his Spider power. What I like most about Spider-Man 2 was when Doctor Octopus was rushed to the hospital after the accident. In the surgery, his tentacles were in control and many shots reminded me of Evil Dead 1&2. And I like how the movie ended with an image of Mary Jane feeling a bit unsecured knowing that Parker is Spider-Man who goes out risking life.
**SPOILER ALERT**
I'd give it 9/10. What I didn't like is the movie didn't explain why Spider-Man was losing his power and he gained back his Spider power. What I like most about Spider-Man 2 was when Doctor Octopus was rushed to the hospital after the accident. In the surgery, his tentacles were in control and many shots reminded me of Evil Dead 1&2. And I like how the movie ended with an image of Mary Jane feeling a bit unsecured knowing that Parker is Spider-Man who goes out risking life.
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7:48AM on 06/27/2012
I think that the suggestion was that his problem was in his head, like a mental block that weakened him. The idea, I believe, was that he was becoming so overwhelmed and stressed by his emotional life that this interfered with his powers, and that as he began to overcome these feelings, his powers began to recover as well. It was a psychological issue that effected his "performance." How well that fits within the mythology of Spider-Man is beyond me, since I don't know the comics.
I think that the suggestion was that his problem was in his head, like a mental block that weakened him. The idea, I believe, was that he was becoming so overwhelmed and stressed by his emotional life that this interfered with his powers, and that as he began to overcome these feelings, his powers began to recover as well. It was a psychological issue that effected his "performance." How well that fits within the mythology of Spider-Man is beyond me, since I don't know the comics.
8:51AM on 06/27/2012
Yeah, that made sense. At first I thought it was just a plot device that made Peter started to lose his power. Nevertheless it's a good sequel.
Yeah, that made sense. At first I thought it was just a plot device that made Peter started to lose his power. Nevertheless it's a good sequel.
7:25PM on 06/27/2012
9/10 for me. A great blend of character development, action, drama, and a bit of comedy. The subway fight w/ Doc Ock remains one of the best in comic book films.
9/10 for me. A great blend of character development, action, drama, and a bit of comedy. The subway fight w/ Doc Ock remains one of the best in comic book films.
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11:30PM on 06/27/2012
I was one who felt spiderman 2 was the greatest superhero film of all time until The Dark Knight (ever so gently) knocked it out of the top spot. Still hold it in very high regard though, regardless of the slew of fantastic superhero films that have been released since then. 9.5/10...
I was one who felt spiderman 2 was the greatest superhero film of all time until The Dark Knight (ever so gently) knocked it out of the top spot. Still hold it in very high regard though, regardless of the slew of fantastic superhero films that have been released since then. 9.5/10...
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11:45PM on 06/27/2012
This is my third favorite superhero film! Far better than any of the Batman or X-Men crap, this has real dramatic tension and weight, with a superb villain.
This is my third favorite superhero film! Far better than any of the Batman or X-Men crap, this has real dramatic tension and weight, with a superb villain.
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6:31PM on 06/27/2012
I'd give it a 7/10. Good not great.
I'd give it a 7/10. Good not great.
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2:53PM on 06/27/2012

It was good at the time.

I saw a bit of this on tv the other week and although i remembered it being very good. I didnt enjoy it nearly as much. Tobey isnt the right choice for Parker and the Web coming from his genes thing bugs me a lot more than it used to. I am just glad The Amazing Spider-man is going in the right direction!
I saw a bit of this on tv the other week and although i remembered it being very good. I didnt enjoy it nearly as much. Tobey isnt the right choice for Parker and the Web coming from his genes thing bugs me a lot more than it used to. I am just glad The Amazing Spider-man is going in the right direction!
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