Review Date: June 28, 2004
Director: Sam Raimi
Writer: Alvin Sargent
Producers: Laura Ziskin, Avi Arad
Tobey Maguire as Peter Parker
Kirsten Dunst as Mary Jane Watson
Alfred Molina as Doc Ock
Peter Parker has postponed his love toward Mary Jane because he doesn't want to put her at any risk as he continues to sling his spidery webs across New York City, saving all those in need. Unfortunately for all involved, a new villain named Doc Ock is in town and he wants to find Spidey through Peter Parker, forcing him to face his identity crisis, his feelings for MJ, his issues with best bud Harry Osborn and his guilt over his expired uncle Ben. Spider-Man, Spider-Man...does whatever a spider can...
A fun adventure filled with all of our friends from the first installment, a little grown up, still confused about their lives and trying to deal with the consequences of one Peter Parker lacing it up as Spider-Pants, while a new baddie by the name of Doc Ock meddles into everyone's affairs. I really liked this movie, but not as much as the first one, mostly because I don't think it took it all to that other level, the same way X2 did for X-MEN, with its grander characters, its grander story-lines and its grander action sequences. The film does get into more details about Peter Parker's sad-sack character, grappling with questions about his identity, his love for MJ, the relationship with his Aunt and best buddy Harry, but it seemed to spend too much time on that with very few new tangents developed. In that sense, I don't think this film necessarily broke any major new ground, and when you're a blockbuster the size of the SPIDER-MAN franchise, I guess I expected more freshness. That aside, the film still managed to enrapture me into its groovy comic-book world, just as its predecessor had, as well as its zippy pace, well-rounded relationships, cool bad guy and kickass action sequences (the entire subway sequence is likely the best action scene that I've seen so far this year) The film does play things quite a bit "darker" in this go-around though, with a certain "depressed" feel about it at times. Parker is down and out about his situation, both as Webhead and vis-ŗ-vis his lost love MJ, who's about to marry another man. MJ is confused about her feelings toward Peter and his feelings toward her. Aunt May is having financial difficulties and finding it hard to get by without Uncle Ben (she's also whoring herself out on the streets...just kidding). Harry is one of the bitterest men I've ever seen and drinking like a fish (he's the Arrow?) The film is scattered with a handful of scenes in which one character or the other, tears up for the camera-not exactly a "selling point" for a fun, summer, action flick, but part of its character development.
I say all that because these bits might turn some people off, particularly the younger generation (dabnabbit!), who don't really go to see movies like this for the deeper analyses of character, but I personally liked the fact that they played things a little gloomier this time around -- kinda reminded me of DAREDEVIL and HULK -- two films which I also enjoyed in that way. Doc Ock, played with panache by the great Alfred Molina, was also a perfect new villain to bring into the fold, if only because his metal tentacles were so damn cool and creepy. I only wish they would have spent more time with him as well. Once he's "transformed" into Dr. Octopus, we don't really get to delve into his psyche much. That said, the film does complete its circles by closing most of the open-ended questions left by the first film, as well as this one, with one character after the other providing their best impressions of "closure" during its conclusion. The film also sports plenty of winks, in-jokes, cameos, nods and such (although for the love of Jesus...give Bruce Campbell a "real" part already!), a very cool opening sequence that flashes us through the last film via animation, a very welcomed cameo by Kirsten Dunst's nipples-through-wet-shirt (although she didn't exactly look all that great throughout the rest of the film), a nifty montage featuring "Raindrops Keep Falling on my Head", as well as an "old school" Raimi sequence in which Doc Ock goes ballistic in an operating room. Nice touch. The CGI also improved in this go-around, but was still far-from-perfect and detectable in many scenes, particularly the awful helicopters in the final shot (why even have them there?) Overall, I'm quite sure that anyone who enjoyed the first film will appreciate this one with plenty of entertainment value for your buck, a decent amount of action scenes interspersed with plenty of human drama and emotion, laughs here and there, romance, a touch of darkness, a cool baddie and all the spider-webbing that you can sling into your fanboy pants!
(c) 2013 Berge Garabedian