Directed by Sam Raimi.
Written by Alvin Sargent. Based on the comic book by Stan Lee
Starring Tobey Maguire, Kirsten Dunst, James Franco and Alfred
Release Year: 2004
Review Date: 7/6/04
I was not a huge fan of the first
"Spider-Man" film, but I will admit
that it was pretty entertaining (hence the strong Bellview rating).
It's cool seeing Spidey on screen, but sometimes I thought the
action was a little weak. I thought there was good chemistry
between Tobey Maguire (as Spider-Man/Peter Parker) and Kirsten Dunst
(as Mary Jane) and the direction by Sam Raimi ("Darkman") was a good
match for the comic book genre he was assigned to visualize.
In the sequel, the tension between Peter and
MJ continues amidst a New York City being tormented by Otto Octavius
(Alfred Molina, "Frida"),
a scientist gone mad thanks to a fusion experiment that ends up with
Octavius sporting eight appendages--four human, and four mechanical
tentacles, making him all the more deadly. Spidey's got to
take "Doc Ock" out...and, as Peter Parker, he's got to spend most of
this film getting his life in order.
I read an interview last summer with Raimi
last summer, and even 12 months ago he stressed that "Spider-Man 2"
would have less emphasis on action and more of a dramedy feel to
it...in this respect, the sequel does not disappoint. The
storytelling this time around is much better than it was in the
first film. Most significantly, "Spider-Man 2" has some truly
hilarious material, some of the traditional crowd-pleasing variety,
and some of the more inside joke mentality.
Everyone loves laughs like the ones provided
by Peter's editor J. Jonah Jameson (J.K. Simmons), who makes fun of
Peter, New Yorkers and the world at almost every turn. And,
the scene in the elevator is, well, a riot of non-verbal
scene-stealing. But, for me, I love anything that goes for
kitschy and hits the home run, like that Asian woman who shreds that
old-school "The Amazing Spider-Man" theme song. Or, when we
get the freeze frame of Happy Peter, as he walks out of a
class...for me, it harkened back to those great John Woo films of
the late '80s and early '90s, when for no reason at all Woo would
freeze his frame on action heroes or rivals sharing a laugh about
something very UN-funny, making it all the more classic.
Or, in the most underrated part of the
film--at least to me--when Raimi veteran Bruce Campbell shows up,
playing a theater usher that just won't let Peter go into a
performance mid-film; jeez, if you've seen any of the Raimi/Campbell
collaborations (the "Evil Dead" series, or "Darkman", or "Army of
Darkness"), you should be laughing right then and there! Or,
if you've seen
"Bubba Ho-Tep", a VERY average film but featuring a great
performance by Campbell! I can't believe that 90% of America
doesn't even know who Campbell is!
There are laughs galore, but the action in
"Spider-Man 2" is tighter, Molina is a better, more compassionate
bad guy that gives you a better feel for the inner torment than his
predecessor had (Willem Dafoe from the first film) and the pacing is
excellent for this kind of fun. It's too bad that the writers
(a collection of them are credited for the story and then the
"screen story") decided that they needed to serve this film up with
a side of wine, because...
...this is some of the cheesiest shit I have
suffered through in some time. There were at least a
half-dozen scenes that made me gag as Jennifer sat next to me in the
theater; man, by the time the crowd on that subway train are lifting
Spidey up like he's a dead Jesus Christ just had me up in arms.
"Go get 'em, Tiger!" Ugh! As I sifted through the thick
soupy cheesiness, I thought that maybe the writers were snakebitten
by the standards of the studio and they were FORCED to make these
kinds of additions...but, I have a bad feeling that isn't the case.
This brings "Spider-Man 2" down a full
grade, but it's still a great time at the movies. If you
haven't seen this by now, what the hell's wrong with you?
Rating: $9.50 Show
Comments? Drop me a line at
Bellview Rating System:
"Opening Weekend": This is
the highest rating a movie can receive. Reserved for movies that
exhibit the highest level of acting, plot, character development,
setting...or Salma Hayek. Not necessarily in that order.
"$X.XX Show": This price
changes each year due to the inflation of movie prices; currently,
it is the $9.50 Show. While not technically perfect, this is a
movie that will still entertain you at a very high level.
"Undercover Brother" falls into this category; it's no "Casablanca",
but you'll have a great time watching. The $9.50 Show won't win any
Oscars, but you'll be quoting lines from the thing for ages (see
"Matinee": An average movie
that merits no more than a $6.50 viewing at your local theater.
Seeing it for less than $9.50 will make you feel a lot better about
yourself. A movie like "Blue Crush" fits this category; you leave
the theater saying "That wasn't too bad...man, did you see that
Lakers game last night?"
"Rental": This rating
indicates a movie that you see in the previews and say to your
friend, "I'll be sure to miss that one." Mostly forgettable, you
couldn't lose too much by going to Hollywood Video and paying $3 to
watch it with your sig other, but you would only do that if the
video store was out of copies of "Ronin." If you can, see this
movie for free. This is what your TV Guide would give "one and a
"Hard Vice": This rating is
the bottom of the barrel. A movie that only six other human beings
have witnessed, this is the worst movie I have ever seen. A Shannon
Tweed "thriller," it is so bad as to be funny during almost every
one of its 84 minutes, and includes the worst ending ever put into a
movie. Marginally worse than "Cabin Boy", "The Avengers" or
"Leonard, Part 6", this rating means that you should avoid this
movie at all costs, or no costs, EVEN IF YOU CAN SEE IT FOR FREE!
(Warning: strong profanity will be used in all reviews of "Hard