| Spider-Man 2 (2004) |
Spider-Man 2, directed by Sam Raimi, is easily the best superhero movie I have ever seen. The prequel wasn't very impressive and neither was its sequel but this movie is in a class of its own.
A lot of people have a problem with Tobey Maguire as Spider-Man slash Peter Parker, but I do not. I actually find his character refreshing and easy to relate to. Unlike many other superhero movies such as Batman and Superman as well as any film in general with a male-lead, this movie actually looks introspectively at the male lead and the other male characters. Instead of being pressured from the start on all fronts to be a man, suck it up, be macho and think only about the welfare of mankind, we look in detail not only at the emotional needs of Parker but also those of the villains. This is what draws me to Spider-Man more than anything else. I also think he is the coolest and the fact that there are villains with superpowers (also significant when we look internally at the male characters) is a big plus.
In the prequel we looked vaguely at the Green Goblin character who was portrayed as a sadistic and vengeful fiend who tries to turn the world against Spider-Man who has just turned from a nobody to New York City's (always NYC) only hope against the tyranny of a green potion. In this movie however we actually love the villain from the start. Alfred Molina who plays Dr. Octavius (the irony of his name leading him to be called Doc Ock when his four metal arms turn him into a monster after his fusion experiment goes sour) is shown as a brilliant, hard-working and loveable scientist whose pride and joy in life is his experiments in creating technology for mankind. "Intelligence is not a privilage. It's a gift and you use it for the good of mankind." This tremendous drive to finish what he started becomes a potential disaster for the city after he loses his grip on reality and his wife is killed in the process.
Even at the end we still empathise with him because he only ever wanted the best for mankind and it was the voices in the arms that overwrote his higher brain function which was to blame (this having very similar themes to the invisible arms and the drive to evolve mankind in Elfen Lied).
The film looks in detail at a very important male issue. "Am I not supposed to have what I want." Parker's loss of superpowers does not seem coincidental as he asks himself this question. As usual his final incentive for becoming Spider-Man again is because of the woman - M.J. Watson (played extremely well by Kirsten Dunst), but unlike so many superhero love interests, is not a complete pain in the arse. She is portrayed as being torn between acting on her gold digging upbringing and her natural attraction to Spider-Man and eventually Peter Parker himself and unlike Katie Holmes's female character in Batman Begins is actually bearable.
All in all this is a superb summer blockbuster movie that is enjoyable from start to finish. And it always good to have a male-lead movie that actually empathises with the male character rather than condemn him.
- Reviewed by Mr.Doesn'tgiveadamn
Rated: PG-13 in USA, 12A in UK, PG in Canada due to action violence
Duration: 2 hours and 7 minutes
(2 hours and 15 minutes for the extended version)