- Sam Raimi
- Reviewed by
- Josť Ruiloba a.k.a. Morris
- Review date
- Monday, July 05, 2004
Peter Parker (Tobey Maguire) has been struggling to keep a balanced life with all his Spider-Man duties. Heís doing terrible at college, he lives in a sad little apartment, he barely has any money and, most important of all, he struggles every single day for not being able to tell Mary Jane (Kirsten Dunst) that he loves her. Peter must then make a hard decision, but his plans change once he realizes that the city needs him, especially when Doc Ock (Alfred Molina), a brilliant scientist gone berserk, obsesses with building a machine that could kill thousands of people.
Where should I start? I guess by stating quite point-heartedly that I do not think Spider-Man 2 is better than its predecessor. Oops, I think I just alienated more than half the people out there, but let me give you my reasons. I looove both movies, I really do. I could watch them over and over and over. But while they both share the same strengths, they also share the same weaknesses. Part one dragged somehow with Green Goblin scenes. Part two drags somehow with dramatic scenes involving Peterís confusion.
And yes, I know thatís the core of the story, but my second viewing just proved that it was a bit too much. I even spotted entire scenes that couldíve been cut to make the movie better paced, such as Peterís visit to the doctor or the subsequent scene which has him dreaming about a very old-looking Uncle Ben (terrible scene, I hate when they do this in movies with death people and this was no exception) or the thin girlís visit to Peter. But hey, youíll get the impression that Iím being too negative about the movie, while as a matter of fact I loved it. So letís just finish with all the bad and move on: I also felt there was a bit too much Aunt May for my taste (she did start to get annoying at one point) and the scene at the hospital when Doc Ock attacks many doctors is totally, absolutely inconsistent with the tone of the movie. Sure, itís cool, but it doesnít belong here.
Now, the good. The movie is very successful in developing its characters a lot more and in quite unexpected directions. Every single character gets more exposition, whether itís Harry (James Franco) or J. Jonah Jameson (J.K. Simmons). But the love story between Peter and Mary Jane takes center stage and really gets to us. We hate the idea of not having them together, but we also understand Peterís conflict and know he has the responsibility to stop crime in the city. Itís torturing for both Peter and Mary Jane, and I loved how the movie was essentially about them.
That also means much less action, but thereís still plenty of goodies for those who enjoy the hell out of those scenes. The tower/train fight sequence between Doc Ock and Spider-Man is one of the best-made, exhilarating, suspenseful action scenes in cinematic history. I canít begin to imagine how it mustíve been to shoot it, but the result is breathtaking. And the denouementÖ perfect, just perfect. My favorite scene in the movie. It is touching, gives a sense of relief and totally gets to you.
The movie is also very funny. Thereís a new screenwriter behind the movie, Alvin Sargent, and it shows. The comedy in this installment is more refined, classier, and full of quiet moments that ultimately pay off. How can we not identify with this superhero with a scene such as the one in the elevator? Thatís the entire success of the series, the human aspect of a guy with superpowers, and the creators never forget that.
Thereís another sequence that works brilliantly that has ďRaindrops keep falliní on my headĒ as background music. Not only is the song a great choice, but the moment simply works. Oh, and the final half hour is nerve-wrecking, full of revelations, surprises, suspense and a perfect final note.
The actors are all, without exception, extraordinary. Tobey Maguire brings Peter with such everyday-ness that itís hard not to fall for the guy. We suffer along with him, but we also smile when he does. Meanwhile Kirsten Dunstís Mary Jane evolves quite a lot in this movie and the actress is terrific, also showing a great deal of emotions. I also enjoyed Alfred Molinaís work as the villain. Since his arms are the enemy per se, he is able to not overact and do a great job. James Franco, J.K. Simmons and the whole cast are terrific!
Let the next installment come!
ďYou are different.Ē
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Other reviews of Spider-Man 2 (2004): Groucho
- Sam Raimi
- Reviewed by
- Gon Curiel a.k.a. Groucho
- Review date
- Monday, July 12, 2004
Spider-Man 2 is even better, and is bound to become one of the yearís most commercially successful and most highly praised movies. First and foremost, it corrects the most serious flaw of its predecessor, which is the look of the visual effects of the web-slinger. This time, such scenes look absolutely real, and credible, and are exciting as can be. And though the first film was astounding in making our hero real, and as geeky as was intended in the original comic book, and showed the process of his becoming a super hero in amazing fashion, this time the conflict becomes more real, more palpable, and much more extensive, as it affects multiple characters and never seems aloof or unrealistic, but on the contrary, is easy to identify with.
I donít know about you, but sometimes in life I have gone through crises for having to attend to so many diverse activities, and sometimes, yes, I have had to quit to some things I love in order to be responsible and do things right, at least those I think are most important, not only for me but for whoever Iím serving. Spider-Man 2 is not as much Spider-Manís story as it is his alter-egoís, Peter Parker (Tobey Maguire), who goes through that exact same crisis, and suddenly finds himself unable to keep up with his heroic antics, as his personal life is a complete mess: He fails at school, he canít keep a job, he doesnít sleep enough, and heís so poor he canít even pay the rent of a crappy little room. Not to mention his relationship with M.J. Watson (Kirsten Dunst), whose affection towards Peter is dissipating as a consequence of his lack of attention.
This film borrows its main storyline from one of the most unforgettable numbers of the comic book, titled ďSpider-Man: No More.Ē What sets Spider-Manís comic book apart from others is that, as I said about the film, itís more about Peter Parker than about the web-slinger, and that episode in particular was unforgettable in showing the conflict of a person living two lives. The film captures the struggle to perfection and itís beautiful in showing the relief of Peter when he quits the ďjobĒ, to the tune of Burt Bacharachís ďRaindrops Keep Falliní on My HeadĒ from Butch Cassidy and the Sundance Kid (1969). But itís also priceless in showing the conflict of having quit, and feeling great remorse about it.
Veteran screenwriter Alvin Sargent (of Julia (1977) and Ordinary People (1980) fame) put together a story by Alfred Gough, Miles Millar, and Michael Chabon, and managed to create a multi-layered script where multiple storylines collide and have big relevance for the whole. Besides Peterís conflict, thereís M.J.ís own, plus her relationship with John Jameson (Daniel Gillies), the son of Peterís boss at the Daily Bugle (J.K. Simmons); also Harry Osbornís (James Franco) resentment toward Spider-Man for killing his father, who was also the Green Goblin (Willem Dafoe), and toward Peter for befriending Spider-Man (as itís believed) and not giving away his identity; also Aunt Mayís (Rosemary Harris) increasing poverty and loneliness; and also the main story: That of a brilliant scientist, Dr. Otto Octavius (Alfred Molina), whose miscalculations lead to disaster and his own madness, as he becomes a symbiotic creature, with four metallic arms attached to his body, and is known better as Doctor Octopus, ďDoc OckĒ for short; Octaviusí transformation from a loving husband (his lovely wife being played by Donna Murphy) to a monster is particularly compelling. Each and every one of these subplots is developed to its tiniest possibility, and they all have something to do with each other, and in the end, we care about every single character, and there isnít one storyline thatís not satisfactory though, ironically, they all leave us hungry for more.
Despite the many action sequences that keep up the thrills, this is a character-oriented film, and as one, it excels both in dialogue and performances. Maguire keeps up the good work, convincing both as a loser and as a hero; Dunst is also quite credible as a conflicted young lady; Franco surprises in dramatic scenes, Simmons tops himself in comedic ones, and Harris outshines the rest as the wise aunt. But I think Alfred Molina is the official scene-stealer, who never really goes over-the-top, but is effective both as a genius and a villain.
Oh, but the film doesnít forget its kind of source! There are enough comic book references and in-jokes to keep us fans exhilarated, including many familiar names that make us wonder which character is next to appear in the series.
Also worth mentioning: Danny Elfmanís music score, Bob Murawskiís editing, and Bill Popeís cinematography; not to mention the amazing job in technical departments.
For a commercial film, you simply canít ask for more. For a comic book film, I wish you could. This is the best comic book film as far as Iím concerned, and an example to follow. Itís the right way to spend so many millions. As I said in the beginning, itís grand entertainment.
ďIím Spider-Man... no more.Ē
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Other reviews of Spider-Man 2 (2004): Morris