Desperate for cash, Tobey Maguire
agrees to star in a Spider-Man themed
Review written by: Alex Sandell
This is the movie comic book geeks and Sam Raimi freaks have been waiting for! It's Army of Darkness with a 100 million dollar budget! It's The Quick and the Dead without Sharon Stone! It's Darkman with metallic tentacles!
Sam Raimi is back so fast and so furious that it's as though he never started making stale corporate films. He's put the wings back on his cameras and ripped the cobwebs from his brain! Spider-Man 2 is highly stylized in that magical, mystical Sam Raimi way.
And this comic book geek is pleased.
I wrote a scathing review of the first Spider-Man and lots of people bitched at me. Since that time, I've grown to think the flick was okay, but still consider it one of the most overrated films of all time.
Raimi still wasn't himself when he directed the original S-M. He was more For Love of the Game Sam than he was Army of Darkness. He was still the studio's lapdog. But when the original made over 400 million dollars domestically, the studio became Raimi's bitch. This is Sam's Spider-Man, not some fat corporate CEO's vision of selling lots of toys.
Spider-Man 2 begins with the best credit sequence in history. Alex Ross, one of the greatest comic book artists working today, uses his talent to create some truly awe-inspiring paintings based on the first film. Through Ross's work, the audience receives all the background story it needs. This allows Raimi to move right into the action, the second the opening credits come to a close.
Peter Parker (Tobey Maguire) is making ends meet delivering pizzas on a dorky little motor scooter. The joint he works for has a 29 minute delivery guarantee. Parker will be fired if he doesn't get a pile of deep dish pizzas to an office in the remaining minutes he has left. Desperate, he uses his spidey-powers to get the pizzas delivered on time (with great power, comes great delivery). He misses by a few minutes and ends up fired from his job.
And so begins the miserable life of Peter Parker.
Being a superhero isn't all it's cracked up to be. Peter's trying to lead two lives: one as a crime fighting webslinger and the other as a college student. He's missing classes, missing dates and missing his chance to get with the love of his life, Mary Jane Watson (Kirsten Dunst).
So much is going wrong for Peter, that even the geekiest of the geeks will stop envying him for his superpowers and begin pitying him for his sorry existence. The apartment he lives in is abysmal. He's continually late on his rent. His landlord is an asshole and Aunt May (Rosemary Harris) is unknowingly giving him guilt trips over Uncle Ben's murder.
When Peter's friend Harry Osborn (James Franco), son of Norman Osborn, AKA Green Goblin (Willem Dafoe) -- who really needs to work his way through the grieving process, already -- introduces Peter to Dr. Otto Octavius (Alfred Molina), Parker feels as though he's found someone he can identify with. But there's one key difference between Otto and Peter -- stability.
Parker looks to Octavius as a role-model -- someone who's managed to balance two separate worlds without sacrificing the best parts of either. So, when the Doctor puts on four gigantic metal tentacle thingies to play with his manmade sun and find a solution to the world's energy problems, only to go nutty and turn into a supervillian, Peter becomes even more doubtful that he can ever live a normal life.
This movie has a surprising amount of character development, but the real stars of the film are Doc Ock's tentacles. Through a combination of puppetry and CGI, these things are long and lively enough to make Ron Jeremy insecure. They control much of the doctor's actions. They whisper to him. They are characters onto themselves; mocking and snapping at their prey. And in Sam Raimi's hands, they help turn Doctor Octopus into the most entertaining baddie in 25 years.
In what is sure to be the single best scene of 2004, Raimi recreates a little of that ol' Evil Dead magic. When a bunch of doctors and nurses try to remove the tentacles from Dr. Octavius's back, they come alive and create marvelous mayhem in the operating room. They whip, slash, slice and dice. And then enter the chainsaw. If the thought of a chainsaw in a Raimi movie doesn't get your heart pounding a mile a minute, you don't know Ash.
While never quite topping the surgery-gone-wrong scene; Sam Raimi & Co. keeps Spider-Man 2 cracking with the best action sequences since Raiders of the Lost Ark. This film somehow manages to bottle the wild imaginations of millions of pimply teenagers reading comic books when they were supposed to be doing their homework and shows all of those that did their homework, when they should have been reading comic books, what all the fuss was about.
To compete with Ock, Spider-Man has been given new powers. It's never really explained how he turned into Superman, but it works. Spidey actually attempts to stop a train with his feet. He also falls ten or eleven stories, lands on the hard ground and gets up and brushes it off. But it's all part of the fun. This movie is a comic book in every sense of the word.
The effects in the film are top-notch. Even CG holdouts, such as me, will be converted. Not one to take second place, Mother Nature's own effects also shine. Obviously reading adolescent ravings on message boards across the World Wide Web, the filmmakers managed to get Kirsten Dunst covered in freezing cold water, once again, giving drooling fanboys another look at Mary Jane's gloriously erect nipples.
Tentacles, chainsaws and Mary Jane's nipples -- it's no wonder this is being hailed as the "greatest comic book movie ever made." Does it deserve the praise? As John Kerry would say, in that mock enthusiastic voice of his, "absolutely!"
Spider-Man 2 really is the best comic book movie ever made. From the poignant character moments to the silly comedy (I challenge you not to laugh during the elevator scene) to the believable romance to the best bad guy since Darth Vader; Spider-Man 2 has something for everyone.
The movie ends with a couple of cliffhangers worthy of the comics that it was based on. If Raimi can outdo the second in the way the second just outdid the first, he could have one of the best movies ever made on his hands. After watching part two, I don't doubt he can do it.
Go get 'em, Tiger!
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