Peter Parker (Tobey Maguire) has a secret: he's in love with Mary-Jane Watson (Kirsten Dunst), but lacks the courage to do anything about it. Which is strange because he is very courageous in other ways - one way in particular, for Peter's alter-ego is none other than the superpowered vigilante Spider-Man, but he cannot let anyone know about it because he fears for the safety of those he cares about. Not that being a hero helps him in his everyday life, not even when he delivers pizza for his part time job, which he loses for being late again.
Yes, Peter was really put through the mill in this sequel to director Sam Raimi's hit action movie Spider-Man, so much so that by the halfway point you're wondering how much more can go wrong for him as the tone turns to dejection. Even by the end, there may be a ray of sunshine in his life, but he's still stuck with all these issues that were going to be resolved, or so the fans hoped, in the second sequel, hence the cliffhanger ending(s) that topped the film off here. Still, no matter how much the lead character felt sorry for himself, there were plenty lining up to catch this instalment at the time.
Part of that was due to the anticipation Raimi had brought about thanks to a jolly good first movie, and like that this was drawn from the original comics by Stan Lee and Steve Ditko. But there was another influence here, from writers Alfred Gough and Miles Millar, the duo who had made Smallville such a hit on the television and there were marked similarities between what happened to Clark Kent on the contemporary seasons of that show and what happened to Peter Parker in this. What had been dragged out over many episodes was more compact here by necessity, yet still felt as though everyone concerned was making a meal of things, lacking a lightness of touch.
But what it lacked in breeziness it made up for dramatically, especially in the scenes with the nemesis this time around, Doctor Octopus, aka Otto Octavius (Alfred Molina). Much as the Green Goblin was the mirror image of Spider-Man before, in this case Octavius is driven mad by the guilt he feels at causing his wife's death in pushing for his own superpower, a concern that presses on Peter's own life, not wishing to take on the responsibility if it means he can harm his aunt (Rosemary Harris), MJ, or anyone else close to him. For Otto, it is too late the second he activates his four mechanical arms and sets about operating his new energy source, a press conference which ends in disaster.
When it all goes wrong, the prosthetic arms take over, Octavius's wife is killed in the breakdown of the power display, and he becomes an outcast, much as Spider-Man can be thanks to his abilities. The important difference being, Spidey is a good guy and Doc Ock is recreating his fatal expeirments for his own megalomania, but he has assistance from the Green Goblin's son, Harry Osborn (James Franco), still grieving and nursing thoughts of vengeance on the superhero. Yet for a long stretch in the middle, it's angst we have to concentrate on as Peter loses his powers as he loses faith in himself, and sees his tentative relationship with MJ slipping through his fingers. Instead of "rescue the girl" as before, this was more like rescue Peter's sanity as he is nearly crushed by his obligation to fight back against the ills of the world; it's well done, and you're never in any doubt of what's at stake, but somehow Spider-Man 2 wasn't quite as much fun as you might have hoped. Music by Danny Elfman.
Precociously talented American director with a penchant for horror/fantasy and inventive camerawork. Raimi made a huge impact with his debut film The Evil Dead at the tender age of 22, a gory, often breathtaking horror romp made on a tiny budget with a variety of friends from his hometown of Detroit. Follow-up Crimewave was a comic misfire, but Evil Dead 2 and Army of Darkness were supremely entertaining, while tragic superhero yarn Darkman was Raimi's first time wielding a big budget.
Raimi showed a more serious side with the baseball drama For Love of the Game, thriller A Simple Plan and supernatural chiller The Gift, before directing one of 2002's biggest grossing films, Spider-Man. Spider-Man 2 was released in summer 2004, with Spider-Man 3 following two years later. He then returned to outright horror with the thrill ride Drag Me to Hell, and hit Wizard of Oz prequel Oz the Great and Powerful after that. On the small screen, Raimi co-created American Gothic and the hugely popular Hercules and Xena series. Bruce Campbell usually pops up in his films, as does his trusty Oldsmobile car.
Simply put: I love this film. Summer blockbusters are a juggling act and Raimi kept action, horror, romance, comedy, pathos and heartache in the air with astounding dexterity. Plus the emotionally cathartic train sequence is far more eloquent than the post-9/11 moral boosting in the first film. Doc Ock is a far more complex foe and Kirsten Dunst plays Mary-Jane's romantic dilemma quite beautifully. The script was co-written by the man behind Ordinary People and it shows. There is a real sense of human hearts beating beneath the colourful comic book surface.
14 Sep 2011
Just thought of something- could Mary-jane be a possible hint at this all be a druggies dream, like in blood fraek?
14 Sep 2011
Don't think so - Mary Jane was the name of the girlfriend in the original 1960s comic books, and they wouldn't have dared sneak a drugs reference into those when they were mostly read by kids.