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July 2004

By Wilson Morales

Spider-Man 2

Distributor: Columbia Pictures
Director: Sam Raimi
Producers: Avi Arad & Laura Ziskin
Screenwriter: Alvin Sargeant
Cinematographer: Bill Pope
Composer: Danny Elfman
Cast: Tobey Maguire, Kirsten Dunst, James Franco, Alfred Molina, Rosemary Harris, J.K Simmons, Bill Nunn, Donna Murphy, Elizabeth Banks, & Vanessa Perlito



If there was ever a sequel that captured the hearts and imaginations of its fans as well as lived up to its massive expectations, it's Spider-Man 2. So many sequels came out last summer and while some of them made tons of money, neither one had the substance to carry the film critically. Not only is the same director, Sam Raimi, back to bring in his flair for the film, but he's also added enough dimensions so that the fans of the comic books as well as newcomers to the franchise will be entertained and mesmerized. While the first film, like all the other comic books turned into movies, had the introductory storyline and slowly held storylines back a bit, the sequel has enough action, romance and plot twists that's easily outshines its predecessor. Spider-Man 2 ranks right up there with Superman 2 and X-Men 2 as one of the best sequels to a comic book franchise. For all the hoopla regarding Tobey Maguire and back problem that almost cost him the role, the producers held firm and kept him. No one can play the role as good as he.

When we last saw Peter Parker aka Spider-Man, he had just finished burying his uncle Ben and decided that he's better off not telling Mary-Jane how he really feels for her. At the same time, his best friend Harry Osborne is can't forget that he "saw" Spider-Man kill his father and he wants vengeance. As the sequel begins, Peter is still the bumbling college kid who can't keep a job, even a simply one as delivering pizza. It seems like he's always late to everything including his classes, which his professor keeps reminding him of. Though his friendship with Harry isn't as close as it once was, they're still cordial towards each other for Mary Jane and Aunt May's sake. When Harry offers Peter the chance to meet his idol Dr. Otto Octavius (Molina) for his thesis project, Peter's elated. While having dinner with the scientist and his wife, Otto lectures Peter on the powers of being gifted. He also talks about romance, which Peter sucks up every word.

When he tries to woo Mary Jane through poetry, she doesn't want to listen because she's frustrated that he could never show up to any of the nights she's doing theater. She tells him that he's too late for romancing her. She's seeing astronaut, John Jameson, the son of his part-time boss, J.Jonah Jameson (Simmons), who's never had any love for Spider-Man. On the day when Dr. Octavius is demonstrating a fusion experiment, something goes horrible wrong and lives are changed. Dr.Octavius becomes mentally unstable while having mechanical arms attached to his body and seeks chaos within the city. Harry becomes more obsessed with destroying Spider-Man and uses Peter to accomplish that; and Peter is more confused than ever about his identity and doing what's right. To achieve happiness, he has to decide what's worth sacrificing, Mary-Jane or his alter ego.

Raimi has infused more compelling issues that make the story so emotional. With most comic book superheroes, the one thing that troubles every one of them is the identity crisis. How does lead a normal life? In this film, Raimi makes sure that we see the trials and tribulations of Peter Parker. Much of the credit has to be given to the screenwriter Alvin Sargeant for putting some comic relief into the film as well as adding some issues that comic book fans will appreciate. Not only that, but he's also makes sure that one plot doesn't take center stage. Maguire is marvelous as the web-crawler with an identity crisis. The scenes where he talks to himself demonstrate his ability to carry a film on acting and facial expression. From his confession to Aunt May to the train scene, Maguire is at his best. Dunst is just as good. Their on-screen chemistry is better here than in the original. Molina is by far the best villain in recent years. He's not one-dimensional as other villains but multi-layered with different emotions. The CGI in the film is by far the best ever assembled in a film. When Spider-Man flies across the city looking to see who needs help, the sight is simply amazing.