Directed by: Sam Raimi
Cast: Tobey Maguire (Peter Parker/Spider-Man), Kirsten Dunst (Mary Jane Watson), Alfred Molina (Dr Otto Octavius/Doctor Octopus), James Franco (Harry Osborn)
Spider-Man 2 is a slick, shiny demon of a movie, the second episode of a multi-million dollar soap opera. And it’s compulsive viewing. The story picks up two years after the original left off, with Peter Parker bumbling through his double life as “nerd” and “superhero”, still pining for Mary Jane Watson and worrying about his Aunt May. The script delights in showing us exactly how mundane his ordinary life is, from being sacked from his dead-end pizza delivery job to always missing the last canapé at a party. It’s a sure sign that great power may indeed bring great responsibility, but it sure doesn’t cut you any slack in your private life.
Meanwhile, MJ’s been doing rather well for herself with a career and a stud of a new boyfriend to boot. And there’s an obsessed scientist in town, played with great poignancy by Alfred Molina, whose giant brown cow eyes lend him a sympathetic vibe that we never felt from the Green Goblin. Molina’s Doc Ock is a genius creation; those evil arms of his truly come alive on the cinema screen. And speaking of CGI, there’s nary a duff moment in the entire film; it’s as though technology has progressed ten years instead of two.
Sam Raimi clearly had fun making this; you can almost picture him rubbing his hands with glee as he watched scenes come together… especially in the sequence where Ock goes postal in an operating theatre. It contains the barmy nuttiness of the Evil Dead films, but without the gore.
But the bits you say, “What about that bit where…?” about are the comedy moments as much as the big FX setpieces. Spider-Man 2 is gloriously funny in places. There’s an elevator scene that’s a peach, whileDaily Bugle editor J Jonah Jameson (“You’re sacked!”) is a side-splitting scene stealer.
The movie’s not perfect. There’s perhaps a touch too much mushiness between Peter and MJ… check. The main action sequence, a breathtaking fight on a train, should have been saved for the film’s climax, because there’s simply no topping it… check. And how come Doc Ock tries to kill Parker before asking him where Spidey is? Did he somehow know that Parker could dodge a flying car? Sheesh… Oh, and check.
But these are small niggles to raise in a movie this joyous. Just watch the sequence in which J Jonah Jameson tries to think of a name for the new tentacled villain in town (“Doctor Strange? Naw, that’s taken…”) and you’ll realise why this is the superhero movie that hits all the right notes.