I loved the Spider-Man comic books when I was a kid, and the first movie was a solid first appearance for Super-Nerd come Super-Hero, Peter Parker. Spidey 2 continues with Parker struggling with his new life and the responsibilities that go hand in hand with his dual persona. Bugle boss, J. Jonah Johnson, is as obnoxious as ever and Parker has taken a second job as a pizza delivery boy to try to avoid having to take ever more photos of Spider-Man, which are then merely used by Jameson in an effort to brand our hero a hoodlum that should be caged. But as in real life the human body can take only so much, and Parker's escapades as daytime college student combined with being a photographer, pizza delivery boy and Super-Hero is taking its toll. This brings us to an area that always concerned me - Spidey's web shooting. In the comics Parker the scientist designed and developed his web and shooter, which meant that he would sometimes use up all his web liquid - usually at the most inopportune moments. In the movies Spider-Man was given a physical ability to shoot webs from his wrists, and I wondered whether this meant Spidey would never run out of web. The moviemakers have gotten around this little problem very nicely and as Parker-the-man becomes more and more stressed by being alone, so his alter ego suffers... and his web production becomes problematic. I really like this - and in my opinion it is an improvement on the comic book stories.
With the Green Goblin now dead, a new baddie was required - and one of the best movie super-baddies is created here in the guise of Doc Ock. When I first realised that Doctor Otto Octavius was to be played by actor Alfred Molina I had my reservations - I'm used to Molina hamming everything up and overplaying parts. I needn't have worried - he plays Doc Ock superbly. As with the first movie, Spider-Man 2 relies heavily on C.G.I. effects, in fact there's a lot more used in this second outing, but it has been improved to the degree that it's now quite enjoyable to see if you can decide what's real, what's puppetry and what's completely computer-generated.
The movie itself is pure class. Action scenes are big and fantastically engineered, and the fight scenes are bold and crunching - everything you could want, and more, from a sequel. I also like the fact that the characters themselves are fleshed out even more - Aunt May for example gives a very solid performance here, whilst Toby Maguire dons his Spidey suit and nerdy Peter Parker personas with equal aplomb and Kirsten Dunst is, well, as much like the “real” Mary Jane Watson as possible! I did feel that James Franco, who plays Harry Osborn, was a little weak and underused this time round, but I suspect his time will come in Spider-Man 3... which I'm looking forward to already!
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