Spider-man 2 Review
By Joe Lozito
Man of Feel
The first half of "Spider-man 2", sequel to the enormously successful 2002 film, is pretty much a perfect comic book movie. Director Sam Raimi, returning to the helm, with a script by Alvin Sargent, keeps the humor coming almost as fast as the action. Mr. Sargent's script is as quick with its wit as it is with its webs. Spidey, again played by Tobey Maguire, spends much more time out of the costume dealing with the great responsibilities that, we are told, come with great power and the results are touching, funny, rewarding and, above all, real.
Mr. Raimi, working at the top of his game, reunites the entire cast of the first film, and by this point they feel like family. Each member is comfortable in the skin of his or her character - particularly Mr. Maguire who adds a range of emotion and humor we've never seen from him before. Like in "Superman 2", here Spidey gives up his powers to be with the woman he loves, and the montage of moments showing Mr. Maguire just enjoying being Peter Parker is priceless.
The cast across the board seems to have matured in their acting skills. Each character is vibrant and worth caring about. Kirsten Dunst's Mary Jane Watson is a love interest that is actually interesting. Rosemary Harris makes Aunt May the maternal heart of the film, without getting sappy. Even James Franco as Harry Osborn, heir to Willem Dafoe's Green Goblin costume, shakes off the cobwebs that made him such a drip in the first film and becomes a genuine force to be reckoned with for ol' Peter Parker.
It may not be fair to the rest of the cast since he gets all the best lines, but special mention again needs to go to J.K. Simmons returning to the role of J. Jonah Jameson. Every line delivery, every twitch of his eyebrow, every mood swing is a spot-on piece of comic book acting. Thank you Mr. Raimi for this bit of casting.
No stranger to character drama, Mr. Sargent ("Ordinary People", "Unfaithful"), working from a story by Michael Chabon ("The Amazing Adventures of Kavalier and Clay") and "Smallville" creators Alfred Gough and Miles Millar, weaves a story of regret and longing which makes "Spider-man 2" as interesting with the mask off as with it on. Perhaps even more so since, if the film has one failing, it was with its handling of the villain.
Alfred Molina plays Dr. Otto Octavius, a scientist just waiting to have the adjective 'mad' added to his job description. As soon as he straps on his mechanical helper-arms, with their oh-so-fragile "impedance chip" to prevent disaster, you know he's in for a tough day. Mr. Molina does a fine job with the character, but Doc Ock more or less stomps around, showing up whenever the plot requires him. His plan has something to do with fusion which may or may not "destroy half the city". The climatic battle is borderline incomprehensible, but Mr. Sargent is able to rein in the action and give us a finale that relies on his characters instead of Mr. Raimi's impressive special effects budget.
You don't need Spidey-sense to know that "Spider-man 3" is on its way. If Mr. Raimi can bring the family together again, we may be in for the best comic book series ever put to film.