Review by: Jack Foley | Rating:
DVD SPECIAL FEATURES: Disc One: Commentaries - cast and
crew, technical; 4 featurettes; Music video; Spidey Sense 2 -
Disc Two: 12 documentaries. 4 featurettes; Enter The Web multi-angle
shots; Photo art gallery; Theatrical trailer.
IT’S not very often that a sequel so overwhelmingly betters
the original (especially when the first film is so good in itself),
but Spider-Man 2 does just that, in truly spectacular style.
All of the factors which helped turn its predecessor into such
a money-spinning record-breaker are carried forward, to provide
a follow-up that is as rich in character development, as it is
in jaw-dropping special effects.
So while the inevitable wow-factor has been increased, so, too,
has the emotional element, thereby providing audiences with something
that is really worth investing their time in.
Spider-Man 2 picks up some two years after Peter Parker (Tobey
Maguire) has walked away from his childhood love, Mary Jane Watson
(Kirsten Dunst), in order to do the right thing as his alter-ego,
But he is finding it more difficult than ever to balance ‘the
gift and the curse’ of his powers, especially since Spider-Man
is still vilified by the press, Mary Jane has started a new relationship,
with a view to marriage, and his beloved Aunt May (Rosemary Harris)
has fallen on hard times.
His friendship with Harry Osborn (James Franco) is also strained,
given that Harry is still struggling to come to terms with his
father’s death at the hands of Spider-Man, and is becoming
jealous of Parker’s loyalty to the super-hero.
So, after much soul-searching, Parker resolves to abandon his
alter-ego, and start placing his own desires to the fore, only
to find that walking away from his responsibilities is not as
easy as it seems, especially when New York is facing a new threat
in the form of the multi-tentacled Dr Otto Octavius (Alfred Molina),
a former scientist, whose failed experiment to control the power
of the sun in the palm of his hand has far-reaching consequences
for himself and all around him.
Having set things up admirably in
the original, director, Sam Raimi, really finds his stride in
Spider-Man 2, delivering an emphatic tour-de-force which epitomises
Hollywood at its finest.
Too often, sequels seem content to churn out simple re-treads
of the original, yet Raimi excels by refusing to take his eye
off the ball, and by actually furthering the story in a way that
completely satisfies the viewer.
Hence, Spider-Man 2 never feels lazy and almost treats the audience
as part of the family. It’s funny, exciting and occasionally
surprising, and provides a wealth of multi-layered characters,
each of whom serve to heighten the overall satisfaction.
Maguire remains excellent as Parker/Spider-Man, effortlessly
tapping into the anxiety of his character, as he learns to accept
his fate, while Molina, as the villain, is also sympathetic, as
he struggles to wrestle the demons within.
The chemistry between Maguire and Dunst also picks up where it
left off in the original, making their relationship something
worth rooting for, while Franco, as tortured best friend, Harry,
builds nicely towards the eventual path his character will take.
Even support players, such as JK Simmons’ fast-talking
newspaper editor, J Jonah Jameson, and Harris, as the sweet Aunt
May, don’t get overlooked, serving to heighten the humour
and tragedy of the proceedings.
And there are even a few nice surprises thrown in along the way,
in the form of cameos and in-joke references to the director’s
past work, to get the movie buffs salivating, while Raimi manages
to set things up tantalisingly for the third film in the series.
Of the action sequences, all of which surpass the quality of
the original’s head-spinning antics, a tussle between Spidey
and Doc Ock on top of a train ought to have audiences gasping
with excitement, while several of the comedy-laced curtain-raisers
serve to get the adrenaline pumping.
Spider-Man 2 has already broken Box Office records in America,
where audiences have been falling over themselves to get caught
in its web, so expect a similar reaction in the UK. It is finally
a film that lives up to its hype, delivering just about everything
you could wish for from a blockbuster.
For Peter’s sake, don’t miss it!