Spider-Man 2: The gooder!
I didn’t hold the first Spider-Man movie in as high a regard as it seems everyone else did – Don’t get me wrong, I didn’t dislike it, I just thought that (of the franchise super-hero movies) Spider-man 1 [S1] was a little bit ‘bubble gum’ when compared to the likes of the X-Men.
For me the X-men movies have really hit the mark. They are movies that people who’ve never seen/read a comic book can see and enjoy – yet they still manage to weave in enough of the history and established mythology to keep comic geeks, like myself, entertained. The characters are treated like they are real people put in an unusual situation – sure there’s plenty of opportunities for those who’ve not left their ‘disbelief’ suspended outside the theater to complain – But for the most part you can really be swept along by the believable characters and that’s what makes the the X-men movies (to me) a cut above the likes of Spider-man 1 and, indeed not just a cut but a whole sweatshop of underage seamstresses, above movies like Hulk and DareDevil..>>>
Spider-man 2 [S2] steps up to the plate in a big way – it builds on the first movie, making several references back to events in S1 throughout the film, not only in dialogue but in plot as well. It uses the relationships developed in S1 as a starting point, which immediately gives it a head start and there are few parts of the film that I can point to and say that it slipped up or lost ground with in that regard.
Something that comic geeks have understood for a long time is that the stories in (particularly established) super-hero titles are far more complex than simply pitting a good dude with super powers against a bad dude with super powers. Hell, it only takes a minutes thought to realize there MUST be more to it than that or else all those Superman comics must have started to look the same after issue 2. Unfortunately it seems that it’s taken Hollywood quite some time to come to this understanding. DareDevil and Hulk (and even Spiderman 1 to a degree) are prime examples of how, when faced with making a movie featuring an established comic book super-hero, a ‘cookie cutter’ plot seems to suffice as far as the story goes. Fortunately S2 has been able to set a new bar, and I don’t just mean at the box office.
Directed by former “Xena” and “Hercules” executive producer Sam Raimi, Spiderman 2 examines (as the comics have for years) the burden of being a super-hero. It’s not all beer and skittles you know! Being a super hero really sucks sometimes.. [trust me.. I know!] Toby Maguire is perfect casting as Peter Parker, bringing the same innocent youthfulness that made his performance in S1 great. This time however, the writers (Veteran comic writers/creators Stan Lee and Steve Ditko) give Maguire a chance to add some texture to his stoney, almost Duchovny like portrayal of Parker. The story picks up some two years after the closing credits of the first movie. Parker is still resolute that his relationship with Mary Jane (Kirsten Dunst) cannot progress, for fear of putting her in harms way. Parkers friendship with Harry Osborn (James Franco) is strained as Harry’s bitterness over his fathers death is only deepened by Peters unwillingness to reveal Spiderman’s identity to him so that he can seek his revenge.
There’s the obligatory super-villain too, [of course there is!] This time out it’s Doc Ock – It’s your typical “genius corrupted” tale. Alfred Molina does a brilliant job bringing Doc Ock to the screen, fluidly switching between the maniacal anti-hero and the extremely likable Dr. Otto Octavius. However in this movie Peter Parkers greatest enemy is Spiderman. Peter’s life is in ruins, he’s broke, fired from yet another job, his friendships are failing, his grades are slipping, is rent is overdue and the one responsible for all this is Spider-man. The resolve to keep those around him at arms length and his continued commitment to be a hero to the people of New York is taking its toll and it’s this dilemma that Parker must face if there’s any hope of saving NYC from devastation at the many hands of Doc Ock.
I’ve heard/read people describe this as “the greatest super-hero movie ever”, I’ve also heard that some people say that there are hidden messages in Unreal Tournament 2004 serial numbers… so, clearly you can’t believe everything you read. That said, Spider-man 2 has joined that slowly growing list of sequels that ADD to the previous film, rather than ruin it.