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Even if you donít follow the Spider-Man comics, the second film in the Spidey franchise has something for everyone: fight scenes, science, hot chicks, kissing, and angst. Plenty of angst.
Spider-Man 2 opens with an illustrated recap of the first movie during the credits, saving us from an extended trip to Backstory Land. We catch up with Peter Parker (Tobey Maguire) as he is attempting to hold on to his job as a pizza delivery boy, resorting to his Spidey tactics to make a 30 minutes or less delivery.
It turns out that Parker has been struggling with other aspects of his life as well, from school to keeping touch with his friends MJ (Kirsten Dunst) and Harry Osborn (James Franco), to making the rent on an apartment that is a drastic step down from the giant place in the first film. These personal issues cause Parker to question his role as Spider-Man, and whether or not he should be giving up what he wants for his superhero self.
In addition to this, Spidey must deal with Doc Ock (Alfred Molina) - a scientist previously employed by OsCorp - determined to recreate the damaging power of the sun. I know Harry is busy angsting over his fatherís death, but after one crazy scientist goes on a murderous rampage, wouldnít the rest of the company be a little bit wary of other dangerous experiments? Apparently not, in the movie world.
The second movie is being touted as having more of a comic book feel to it, and that could be said merely from the influx of screaming women on camera. The film is just as action-packed as the first, with special effects to match. Tobey Maguire has said that it took two years to create the stunning train fight, and it shows.
However, this same attention is lacking in other areas, when at times web-flinging Spidey and a flailing MJ look much more cartoonish than should be acceptable given the abilities of CGI today. There were a few other things that bothered me, including the seemingly important moments between Parker and his landlordís daughter, and many Meaningful Looks and Comments from a Daily Bugle staffer. Hopefully these moments will be explored in later films, because as they are now, they seem out of place. The film leaves these and plenty of other windows open for a third installment, which fans can look forward to seeing in 2007.
The standout character in this film is again Aunt May, played by Rosemary Harris. Although she may seem like a feeble old woman, her lines are delivered with incredible wisdom and a secret smirk. Tobey Maguireís Peter and Spidey are more developed than in the first film, and more merged into the single person they really are instead of two separate beings. As a result Spider-Man is a more personal character, and Parkerís frustrations are more easily felt by the viewer (and probably even easier for those who have a crush on Kirsten Dunst). Be on the lookout for special cameos scattered throughout the film (donít blink, you might miss the creator).
Overall, Spider-Man 2 is good summer fun, and clearly Sam Raimi & Co. have been enjoying bringing one of the most popular superheroes to life yet again. The screenplay story was written by Smallville creators Alfred Gough and Miles Millar, and confessed comic-book junkie, author Michael Chabon, with plenty of influence and input from Stan Lee. And hey, if they canít get it right, then the rest of us must be wrong.
Director: Sam Raimi
Starring: Tobey Maguire, James Franco, Kirsten Dunst, Alfred Molina, Rosemary Harris, and J.K. Simmons