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For more movie summaries, see Kam's Kapsules.

(Photo by Melissa Moseley)

photo caption:
TRAIN TOP BATTLE BETWEEN EVIL AND GOOD: Spider-Man (Tobey Maguire) battles his nemesis, multi appendaged evil scientist Doc Ock (Alfred Molina), while precariously perched on the roof of a speeding train.
end caption.


"Spider-Man 2": Spider-Man Fights Multi-Tentacled Madman, Personal Demons in Sequel

Review by Kam Williams

Mild-mannered Peter Parker's (Tobey Maguire) private life has become a mess in the two years since the fateful accident which left him as a half man/half arachnid, and consequently, gave him an acrobatic, altruistic alter-ego. Although his secret identity as Spider-Man has enabled him to help put plenty of bad guys behind bars, the constant crime fighting interruptions to his daily routine have taken a devastating, personal toll.

The consequences of these competing demands range from falling grades in college, to being fired from his job as a pizza delivery boy, to his failure as a free-lance newspaper photographer, except for snapshots taken of the elusive Spider-Man. Peter still blames himself for the death of his Uncle Ben (Cliff Robertson), and he feels guilty about the present plight of his grieving, suddenly debt-ridden, Aunt May (Rosemary Harris), whose bank is foreclosing on her house.

What frustrates the introspective superhero the most is that his hope of ever dating the girl of his dreams has all but evaporated, because Mary Jane ("M.J.") Watson (Kirsten Dunst), has announced her engagement to astronaut John Jameson (Daniel Gillies). It doesn't help matters that the groom is the son of Peter's boss, J. Jonah Jameson, the cantankerous curmudgeon who runs The Daily Bugle.

We see Spider-Man in emotional crisis, a kid snared in an existential web spun of his own neuroses. To complicate matters, he must not only deal with his inner turmoil, but also take on the unstable villain Dr. Otto Octavius (Alfred Molina), aka Doc Ock.

Kudos to Director Sam Raimi for finding a way to improve on the already engaging formula which made his initial screen adaptation of the Marvel Comics adventures a runaway hit. He ensured continuity when he brought back about 20 of the original cast members, including all of the leads. Then, he substantially lessened the contrast between the film's animated and real-life sequences by upgrading the technology used to blend the computer-generated imagery with the filmed scenes.

Next, he sprinkled the production with a generous helping of humorous asides, such as the scene where a tone-deaf Asian-American street performer sings the Spiderman TV show theme with all the unbridled passion of American Idol loser William Hung. Best of all, Raimi kept Spider-Man 2 compelling with a character driven plot. In fact, each pivotal role has been imbued with a depth which makes the confrontation of individual issues as riveting as fight sequences.

We see Peter Parker so devastated by M.J.'s impending wedding that he finds himself momentarily unmasked and unable to shoot his sticky goo from his wrists when transformed into Spider-Man. Much soul-searching ensues. Should he continue his commitment to society or just go for the girl? M.J., meantime, despite being both betrothed and a Broadway actress, remains vulnerable to this frustrating friend who still occupies a special place in her heart.

Dr. Octavius is a researcher employed by Peter's longtime friend Harry Osborn (James Franco). Initially, because of his ability to balance happy home and professional lives, the doctor serves as a sort of role model for our protagonist. Octavius gives Peter the idea that one day he, too, might be able offset his work with a fulfilling love relationship.

However, after an experiment with fusion goes horribly wrong the mad scientist loses control of his contraption and morphs into a terrifying adversary.

See Spider-Man wrestling with demons, literally and figuratively.

Excellent (4 stars). Rated PG-13 for stylized action violence.

end of review.

For more movie summaries, see Kam's Kapsules.


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