A Flawless Super Hero Movie10/10
This is what a good summer movie should be.
Spider-Man 2 transcends the boundaries of being just another comic book movie to being a richly character driven movie with a very conflicted hero. Here, for the first time, we see the actual emotion behind the facade of the hero behind the mask. Gone is the richly colorful look of the first part, here in Spider-Man 2, we are plunged into a world of shadows and off colors.
Picking up two years after the first Spider-Man left off, Peter Parker (Tobey Maguire) has his hands full with three full-time jobs. He is going to school full time, he is working full time to pay off his rent, and he is a hero always on call whenever he hears a siren. Not to mention, we see the emotional toll that has been taken on him, his only surviving family member, his Aunt May (Rosemary Harris), has become consumed with grief and loss over the death of her husband (incidentally, creating Spider-Man in the first part), Peter's friend Norman Osborne (James Franco) is now at odds with him since he has become consumed with revenge over Spider-Man killing his father (the Green Goblin), and his love affair with Mary Jane-Watson (Kirsten Dunst) is slowly being extinguished because he is never there for her to return the feelings she has for him. And this is all in the first fifteen minutes of the film.
As Spider-Man, Parker is even in danger of losing his powers as his exhaustion slowly begins to take over. Is it medical or is it because he has stretched himself too thin? Eventually, Peter decides to give up being Spider-Man to finally bring peace into his life. There is a brilliant sequence in this film when we see Parker returning to his alter-ego from the first part before the mutated spider bite as he puts on his glasses again, clouding his vision to the world around him. When he sees someone being beaten up in an alley, he turns around to walk away. When the familiar sirens fly past him again, he just eats a hot dog. In short, Parker has finally succumbed to being a New Yorker.
In the midst of all of this, we see the creation of a new villain, this time in the form of a deranged scientist named Doctor Otto Octavius (Alfred Molina), who has four frighteningly powerful arms welded to his spine after a disaster with his life's work. This disaster not only turns the Doctor into Dr. Octopus (Doc Ock as the papers call him), but the artificially intelligent arms seemed fuse to his id, placating his desires to not want his life's work to be a failure. Doc Ock will try again at the expense of anyone around him.
The standout here is Tobey Maguire, who can convey the film's entire heart with a look or a gesture, but is most heart-wrenchingly done in his hesitations. For a man so used to having quick reflexes, when he has to slow down and realize what is going on around him, we are instantly in his head. Maguire also has to command the screen as Spider-Man and convince the audience that he can stand up to someone like Octavius and not seem fantastic.
Sam Raimi also does a knock-out job as well, knowing when to hold on a character's face long enough or swinging the camera along with Spider-Man to give the audience the exhilaration of flight. Raimi is more than competent enough to give this movie the look and feel of a moving comic book and by utilizing his most signature camera shot (zooming into and out of the character's eyes), the audience is invited to live for a moment in the tights of a superhero.
Spider-Man 2 has so many great messages to be heard in this film, the best of which seems to draw both Peter and Octavius together in the end: In order for the right thing to be done, does it mean that we have to put away what we want the most? In both cases, there are some strong arguments and that is what makes this movie such a surprise is the depth that it possesses. Seemingly, we have entered the bizarro world of sequels, where they seem to surpass the original (Harry Potter and the Prisoner of Azkaban, The Lord of the Rings: The Return of the King, Toy Story 2, etc) and Spider-Man 2 definitely joins these ranks. Perhaps in allowing a series to expand rather than compliment the original, we can expect more depth out of movies, which has been as equally absent in this day and age as heroes as Spider-Man 2 also suggests.