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The Warsaw Voice » Culture » September 1, 2004
film review
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Spider-man 2
September 1, 2004   
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The first Spider-man movie had enough wit and energy to make for one of the better superhero capers; it also had a budget that would make NASA blush, so no surprise that its special effects suddenly made everything else seem earth-bound—even if the Green Goblin had to make do with that silly Halloween mask. Spider-man 2 continues in the same vein, dizzying the audience with the leaps and bounds of its web-slinging hero, so much so that at times—as the camera dive-bombs from one building to another—it feels more like a roller-coaster ride than a movie. Which begs the question, why not just go to a theme park if that’s what you’re after, but director Sam Raimi manages to spin an interesting enough story around the gymnastics to suggest that the movies have a year or two left before complete obsolescence.

The action kicks off with Peter Parker (Toby Maguire) trying to juggle the responsibilities of life as a superhero and a pizza delivery boy. Of course he also has the stress of trying to attend enough lectures to make the grade, and then there’s the small matter of Mary Jane Parker (Kirsten Dunst), the apple of Peter’s eye and a girl who’s bound to get snatched up if he doesn’t find the courage to tell her how he feels. Or, more specifically, if he doesn’t fulfill his promise to attend Mary Jane’s performance in The Importance of Being Earnest, apparently a pivotal moment in their relationship, seeing as they haven’t spent much quality time together recently. But, with a city still choked by crime, it’s the importance of being Spider-man that must come first, our hero swatting a band of minor villains on the way to the performance, only to be told upon arrival by an imposing Bruce Anderson that latecomers will not be seated.

No wonder that Peter decides to ditch his leotard and let somebody else take care of business. There’s also the fact that his powers aren’t what they once were—his web-shooting failing him at crucial moments. As in the first episode, there’s a wry parallel between Peter’s powers and the sexual rites-of-passage of the teenager. His doctor stops short of prescribing Viagra, instead telling Peter to focus on who he wants to be. Judging by the soundtrack, which suddenly segues into “Raindrops Keep Falling on My Head”, it’s Butch Cassidy, but this sweet release can’t last long. Not with Alfred Molina hamming it up as Doctor Octopus, another villain borne of hubris and piles of radiation—in yet another experiment that goes dreadfully wrong. One minute you’re about to provide the world with a renewable energy resource, the next you’re gallivanting around town on eight legs robbing banks.

The movie lifts itself above its predecessor primarily because this time it has a worthier villain, Molina taking possession of Peter’s beloved and gleefully delivering the promise to “strip the flesh from her bones,” should Spidey fail to find a space for him in his diary. The fight scenes between the two are truly spectacular, begging the question of what the digital whiz kids responsible can do to trump them in the next episode. To be continued....

Jonathan Walsh
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