Directed by Sam Raimi
Spider-Man 2 combines all of the strong points of the original Spider-Man movie with an even more interesting villain -- one fine Dr. Otto Octavius (played with just the right flair by Alfred Molina). The decision to a cast summer action film with the quiet, thoughtful Tobey Maguire in the lead and to present Spider-Man as having a vulnerable, self-doubting human side not only made these movies great but - combined with the astronomical box office success of both - will influence how youth-oriented movies will be made for years to come. This departure from the usual formula-driven archetype for action heroes should secure financing for films with thought-provoking, humanized characters like Tobey Maguire's Peter Parker/Spider-Man. Spider-Man 2 is also very well executed in every technical sense: special effects, editing, cinematography, and production design.
I can't heap too much praise on Alfred Molina's Dr. Otto Octavius (Doc Ock for short) - a mad nuclear physicist trying to build a next-generation nuclear power plant. This character is a classic comic villain - a perfect balance is struck between making him funny (the huge mechanical arms attached to his body) and keeping him at least a little scary since he is supposed to terrorize NYC. The film makers resisted the temptation to make him a purely evil, greedy, power-hungry type - Doc Ock is a mad scientist that reminds me of some of the old sci-fi movies of the 1950s and 1960s - not totally evil but just insane and obsessed with his work. I even loved the way he moved - walking and climbing with the mechanical arms. My only regret is that the filmmakers didn't give him even more screen time. It would have been a worthwhile tradeoff to cut some of the human drama (the scenes concerning Peter Parker's back story - the death of his uncle and Aunt May's financial troubles - they were good but, given the choice, I would go with more Doc Ock) in favor of a more detailed development of Doc Ock's background, experiments and plans.
The fight scenes between Spider-Man and Doc Ock are pure summer-movie fun - very impressive visually but not so graphic that small children should avoid the film. The fight scene on an above-ground train (ok, ok -- so New York hasn't had one of those train tracks in years) was my favorite - I got a very strong sense of movement just sitting in the second row looking up at the big screen. I also like what they did with the romantic angle - Peter Parker and Mary Jane (Kirsten Dunst) - they have a passionate but frustrated and troubled relationship because of Peter's alter ego- you really don't know if they ever will get together. I would have made the film a little more sci-fi and cut some of the chatty drama - but as is, this is a great movie and definitely one to see one the big screen for full impact.
Images are copyright Sony Pictures.
For more information about this film including detailed cast and crew credits, check out The Internet Movie Database by clicking here.