Does whatever a spider can.
Wed, 5 January 2005
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The second Spidey movie has more of everything than the first. More impressive action sequences, more romance, more humour and more of that fiery, sexy lady herself; Aunt May (Rosemary Harris)! And Mary Jane (Kirsten Dunst) is in there too.
The plot picks up not long after the events of the original film. Peter is now in college and he's even more of a dorky loser than ever. You know those days when nothing you do seems to work out and absolutely everything seems to go wrong? Well, for poor old Parker, every day is like that. The story takes a bit of a slower pace and focuses more heavily on the romantic aspects of Peter and Mary Jane this time around, which may put some people off. But it is just building the characters into people you can understand and care about and also sticks pretty close to the way the Spidey comics tend to work best. The dialogue is amusing and sharp, except for a couple of rather cheesy lines here and there which are easily overlooked (and some might argue those lines are fitting anyway, given the roots of the material). You can rest assured that there's still no shortage of breathtaking action on offer.
The cast is uniformly great. Toby Maguire has the part of Peter/Spidey down so well now that it is almost impossible to imagine anyone else in the role. Dunst is convincing as the determined, strong willed, yet slightly insecure Mary Jane Watson. James Franco plays Harry Osborn and does the angry young man routine nicely. And then there's the rest, who are all good too (how's that for in depth?).
Spider-man 2 is a resounding success in almost every way. The best part of the film is that it is just so much fun. Much of that fun is invoked by the spectacular visuals. Spidey is an extremely striking character and watching him swing through the city is a great thrill. He has a slightly updated costume and more of his cool moves and poses from the comics have been added, making him more eye-catching than ever.
New villain Otto Octavius, aka Doctor Octopus (or Doc Ock for short), is very striking too. I had concerns about this character (played by Alfred Molina) being translated from comics to the big screen. A guy with mechanical tentacles works fine in the funny books, but as a movie character it could seem pretty kooky. I was afraid he might end up looking utterly silly. But, no worries, he looks great and is expertly realised using clever design and a combination of puppetry and computer generated effects. He's much more impressive than the first movie's Green Goblin. His mechanical arms really give the impression of having a mind of their own. They convey a tremendous sense of power too, as Doc Ock uses them to throw cars around or smash through walls and climb up buildings. Molina is excellent in the role of Octavius, the scientist driven insane by his own ego and ambition. He has a nice wobbly set of man boobs on him too, if you happen to be into such things. That's ok though; Doc Ock is supposed to look that way- he's a scientist, not a bodybuilder.
Danny Elfman composed the score of the film (as he did for the first Spider-man). Elfman's work rarely disappoints and once again he has hit the nail right on the head here. His opening theme music (which is accompanied by artwork by legendary comic painter Alex Ross) is, in my opinion, perfect.
Sam Raimi did a superb job directing the first Spider-man film, but he has easily surpassed those efforts with the sequel. I'm a big Raimi fan and Spidey 2 has his style shining through in nearly every scene. The awesome Doc Ock scene in the hospital, for instance, is classic Sam. It is great to see such a creative director given the opportunity to have fun with a huge budget. He's really making the most of his chances too; some of his sequences here are incredibly inventive and put those in most similar types of movies to shame. Of course the incredible special effects enable many of these scenes to work. What they can do these days with computers and other effects never ceases to amaze me.
There's certainly no shortage of extras on this two disc dvd set. You can geek your little heart out to two different commentaries (the one with Raimi and Maguire was quite entertaining), a blooper reel, making of featurettes and plenty of other stuff until the cows come home. The majority of it is actually interesting and worth checking out too, which is always good.
Another thing worth mentioning is that film is packed with references for readers of the Spider-man comics, which adds significantly to the geek appeal. There are also many little tips of the hat for Sam Raimi devotees; the appearance of Sam's brother Ted, Bruce Campbell and so forth.
Spider-man 2 is an awesome dvd with a wide-ranging appeal. It now takes the top spot as my all time favourite superhero flick (except perhaps for Pixar's The Incredibles; but that's a story for another time), but even those not particularly into the genre should find the movie enjoyable. With the great quality transfer and abundance of snazzy extras this is definitely one to own.
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Gets my spidey sense tingling every time.