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aka - Spider-man 2
USA 2004
Directed by
Sam Raimi
128 minutes
Rated M

Reviewed by
Ruth Williams
3.5 stars

Spiderman 2

Synopsis: Peter Parker (Toby Maguire) has too much on his plate. As Spiderman, his fight against the forces of evil is chewing up his time, and damn it, he can't even tell anyone why he is so unreliable. He is sacked from his job for being late, his college lecturer threatens to fail him if he doesn't apply himself, and Mary Jane (Kirsten Dunst) accuses him of being a lousy friend when he doesn't make it to her play. The scene is set; how will Peter solve this problem, what evil genius will call him back into action? Will he ever find his true path in life?

There was a period in the making of the film where it didn't look like Toby Maguire would be able to continue in the leading role. He had been plagued with back problems, and the stunts required from him in the new film were three times as demanding of those in the first instalment. Eventually Maguire stepped back into the role that many doubted he could fill. In fact he is the perfect Peter Parker in that he's not 'perfect'. His slender build, his likeable but not handsome features reflect the 'normal' person that he is when he steps out of his suit. He could be any teenage boy, an aspect of his character that has appealed to so many teens, as it did to Raimi, in the difficult coming-of-age years.

Although I enjoyed the first instalment of Spider-man, my expectations were not high for this sequel. It didn't take long, however, before I was happy to sit back and enjoy what was on offer. The first film raked in $820 million worldwide. This meant the producers were willing to allow Raimi to make the kind of film he wanted to make. How often does this happen in Hollywood? As it turns out Sam Raimi is the perfect director for this film.

Raimi took time out to ask himself what the audience would expect from a sequel. His question came out of wanting to satisfy those who have come back for more, as well as providing a satisfying experience for the first-timers. It occurred to him that we would want to follow the relationships established in the first film. What has happened between Peter and MJ? How does Harry Osborne (James Franco) feel about Spider-man two years after he 'caused' the death of Harry's father, and how has Aunt May (Rosemary Harris) handled the death of her husband? Raimi knew that he needed to place this within the volatile world of the action genre. The confrontation with a new foe; the multi-tentacled Dr Ock, (Alfred Molina) would need to provide the adrenalin kick that is so thrilling in this genre. He fulfills both of these and his desire to satisfy comes across in almost every scene.

You may have noticed that I added 'almost every scene'. At a little over two hours, you kind of wish Raimi had allowed his editor more of a say. And as for the wise words from Aunt May, I think we could have worked it out for ourselves. Not everyone will be happy with everything, however, I would much prefer Raimi gives us his version, than have the film chopped up by anyone else because we might not like this or that.

Raimi has put himself into this film, with the passion that the story deserves. We may cringe at the set-up for the next sequel, but we also come out impressed by the combination of thrilling confrontations and gentle moments. As Spidey flies through the air we're there with him, computer generated or not. It's who and what he represents that in the end satisfies the audience. Bring on Number 3, I say




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