Spider-Man 2 (PG)

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The ViewLondon Review

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Review byMatthew Turner12/07/2004

Four out of five stars

Exciting sequel that improves dramatically on the effects of the first, but also has an emotional depth that is surprising in a blockbuster this big.

The first Spider-Man (read our review) movie in 2002 was an enormous, record-breaking hit with both critics and audiences alike, managing the tricky balancing act of delighting life-long fans whilst winning hordes of new ones at the same time. If the Stateside reaction is anything to go by, then Spider-Man 2 is set to do the same thing – the (frankly terrific) trailers are keen to point out that it’s less a sequel than a continuation of the first film’s story.

Spide-Man No More

As with the first film, Spider-Man 2 cleverly takes two famous story-lines and blends them together – the first half of the film deals with Peter Parker (Tobey Maguire) struggling with his double-life as Spider-Man because it’s causing him to neglect his loved ones and fall behind with his studies. However, he no sooner vows to be “Spider-Man No More” (after the title of the comic) than his loved ones come under threat from the newest super-villain on the block, the multi-tentacled Doctor Octopus or ‘Doc Ock’ (Alfred Molina).

On top of all this, Parker has to deal with: his guilt over Uncle Ben’s death; the fact that his best friend Harry (James Franco) is being driven mad by his hatred of Spider-Man; and the fact that Mary-Jane (Kirsten Dunst) has drifted away from him.

CGI Wrinkle

The effects are amazing - the occasional CGI 'wrinkle' from the first film (the horrible 'wavy arms' jumping scene, some of Spidey's movements etc) have been ironed out and all the wall-crawling, web-slinging action looks fabulous. Doc Ock's arms are incredibly well done, too and it's nice that he is also spider-like in his movements.

The action sequences are also terrific, particularly the show-stopping central fight that takes place all over a moving train. It’s only a shame that the plot doesn’t allow for more of the same – in fact, the climax doesn’t have a hope of living up to that scene and is disappointing as a result.

Raimi’s directorial stamp

The direction is extremely impressive, moving effortlessly between emotional character scenes and kinetic action sequences. Raimi has really put his own directorial stamp on the film and nowhere more so than during the terrifying, Evil Dead-like sequence where Doc Ock’s tentacles come alive and attack the hospital staff.

As for the cast, both Maguire and Molina are terrific, delivering complex, multi-layered performances. There’s strong support too from both James Franco and Rosemary Harris (as Aunt May), although it’s J.K. Simmons as J. Jonah Jameson who really steals the supporting honours - he's in it a lot more this time and he's absolutely perfect. The only weak link is Kirsten Dunst, who never really comes alive until the very end of the film.

The script is very strong and the film is packed full of sight gags and superb one-liners, such as Jameson musing, “A guy named Otto Octavius ends up with eight limbs. What are the odds?” There’s also an amusing montage set to ‘Raindrops Keep Fallin’ On My Head’.

In short, Spider-Man 2 is nothing short of spectacular, though die-hard fans may be annoyed by how liberal the film is with Spidey’s “secret” identity. Recommended.

Film Trailer

Spider-Man 2 (PG)
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Content updated: 24/10/2017 08:33

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