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Spider-Man 2 (2004)

January 14, 2010

9/10 Balancing Acts

One of my all-time favorite superhero movies and the best of the series.

Spider-Man 2 picks up with our guy Peter Parker as he tries to win back M.J., ace his college courses, and not get kicked out of his apartment all the while protecting the city from its latest foe, Dr. Otto Octavius, his four metal arms and his sinister trench coat. Dude’s got a lot on his plate, but it comes with the territory. I think there’s a lesson to be learned here.

I’ve actually found myself pretty surprised with the reactions I get from others when I sing this movie’s praises, a good deal of which can more or less be boiled down to one word: “corny”. Further questioning inevitably reveals this opinion to be grounded in the scene where the train passengers carry Spidey over their heads after he saves their lives, and while I didn’t have a problem with it, to each his own.

But that’s why I have  movie blog, because I think this movie kicked ass!

Granted, the guy sitting next to me when I saw this in the theater gave me some of his Starburst – which was about the coolest thing that’s ever happened to me in a movie theater – but I’ve seen it a couple times since and it’s still great.

I think a big reason I dug this movie so much was because it felt mature without being overly-serious. The script really taps into the whole “with great power comes great responsibility” mumbo jumbo far better than the first movie – or the third movie for that matter – does, and that’s what brings it all together. It brings in the heart, it’s got a ton of quality character development, it is a freakin’ rush to sit through – absolutely love that scene in the operating room with Doc Ock at the beginning – and unlike a lot of superhero movies, it makes you care.

This is the movie where you finally get it, that life is freakin’ tough as a superhero, especially a broke-ass superhero. It’s not just a by-the-books trip like the first run-around was, it’s more than “good-guy-beats-the-bad-guy-and-gets-the-girl”, it’s about as complicated as real life and then some without being melodramatic. Spidey 2 is as much about how hard it is to be normal as it is to save the world, and you don’t get that a lot from superheroes. 

And say what you will about Tobey Maguire, but I really like the kid. He’s a solid actor to begin with and he was a great pick for Parker. It’s just that he makes Spidey endearing without even trying, I think it’s the smile. No, he’s not as cool or snarky as he is in the comics, but couldn’t help but like him all along.

Still not big on Kirsten Dunst, but whatever, she doesn’t really take anything away from it. Alfred Molina’s not bad as Doc Ock, either, but let’s not kid ourselves, he’s no Willem Dafoe. Although Doc Ock is a way better villain than Green Goblin. Awesome special effects right there.

So, the reason I wrote this review should be pretty clear now that the whole series is getting a complete overhaul, and an unnecessary one at that. Yeah, Spidey 3 wasn’t so hot, Spidey 1 was fine, but the fact of the matter is that Sam Raimi is the man and there really wasn’t anything that wrong with the way he was running things that they had to scrap the series entirely. But who knows, this could be a good thing, could be the nudge Raimi needs to keep up with horror or even venture into something like A Simple Plan again (awesome movie). If anything else, I don’t think we’re ever gonna have to see Topher Grace return as Venom (who the eff thought that was a good idea?)

Man, there aren’t a whole lot of movies that make me want to get up and cheer when the final credits roll, but this was one of ’em. Spider-Man 2 is just an atypically well done blast of movie that set a new plateau for a genre that can tend to be a total joke. Was never much of a Spidey fan before this came around – comics or otherwise – but I’m now glad to be part of the choir. 

I’m having trouble getting an idea of what the general reaction is this whole development, but I’m pretty bummed out. A serious lack of love for the Raimi at the moment.

First Conan, now this. Tisk, tisk, Hollywood.

11 Comments leave one →
  1. January 14, 2010 7:48 am

    agree with you that Spider Man Part Deux is a great movie. it has real heart. the action is good (the bit at the start where a car is about to fall on innocent people and suddenly gets caught in a big web is breathtaking) but for me the bits in between are best. maguire really carries things along.
    disagree with you on Alfred Molina, his acting is way better than Dafoe’s hamming

  2. nothatwasacompliment permalink
    January 14, 2010 9:24 am

    i agree this one is the best of the series. lots of fun little moments scattered about. though, wasn’t this the one where we have aunt may hanging from the side of a building by an umbrella? that was a silly scene…

    not nearly as silly as emo peter parker in the third one though!

    • January 14, 2010 10:33 am

      There’s only one thing that comes to mind when I think of Spider-Man 3: that fucking idiotic West Side Story dance number he does in the jazz club with that fucking idiotic haircut covering his emo face. Truly horrific.

  3. January 14, 2010 9:55 am

    I suppose I’m alone in liking part 3? I probably like 1 more than 2 and 3 is the worst, but still I like it. I’m with you on Molina. I like the guy, but he’s definitely no Willem Dafoe.

  4. January 14, 2010 10:49 am

    I couldn’t agree with you more that this movie is the best of the series, and indeed one of the very best of all time. It really encapsulates The Marvel Universe where most of the heroes aren’t gods – they’re everyday people with extraordinary abilities.

    I don’t think any superhero movie has illustrated that idea as well as Spidey-2 did.

    I like the idea of reviewing the film to comment on the news…I might even have to swipe the idea down the line 😉

  5. Branden permalink
    January 14, 2010 2:00 pm

    I thought this was a very good film. Especially, the ending could be damaging for Spider-Man, but it was expertly done.

    I did not see the third installment. I had no desire to see it.

  6. Ryan permalink
    January 14, 2010 6:49 pm

    This movie was crap. Only the first one is watchable. Sam Raimi is overrated. I’m glad they canned him and this cast. I hope the reboot will be better, but I doubt it since apparently it will be Peter Parker in high school…. lame

    • January 14, 2010 7:35 pm

      Saw that one comin’ from a mile away, brotha. Didn’t hear about the High School thing though, that is indeed lame.

  7. mcarteratthemovies permalink
    January 15, 2010 1:49 pm

    Could not agree with you more. I think it was Ebert who said that so few superhero movies ever show the repercussions — the burden of responsibility, if you will — of righting wrongs, thwarting bad guys, etc. Tobey Maguire is the perfect guy for that task because he’s a very expressive actor, not just some meathead who looks good in a tight suit (Brandon Routh, I’m talkin’ to you).

  8. March 16, 2010 9:48 am

    This is my favorite superhero based comic book movie of all time. It gets what makes Peter Parker such a great character, why he is so easy to relate to (even if I sometimes go, “Hey douchebag, stop it with the god damn whining, you’re fucking a supermodel, who you are married to!) and why being a superhero is such an epic thing.

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