Monday, February 18, 2008

REVIEW: Spider-Man 2

Spider-Man 2

Year: 2004
Director: Sam Raimi
Starring: Tobey Maguire, Kirsten Dunst, James Franco, Alfred Molina, Rosemary Harris
Distributor: Columbia Pictures
MPAA: Rated PG-13

After the huge success of Spider-Man in 2002, it was only a matter of time before Sony and Marvel released a sequel. I mean after all, the cast and crew have signed up for a 3 picture deal with Sony. So when the studio announced they were filming the second one in the trilogy, many fans were trying to figure out if the sequel would be better. Is it going to be bigger and badder? Who's going to be the main villain in this one? So many questions were up in the air, but thankfully the studio didn't let us down. Spider-Man 2 opened big in theaters and grossed an estimated $784 million worldwide. Which was down by $37 million from the first films estimated gross of $821 million worldwide. Which is really weird since the sequel offers more stunts, more story, more explosions and its the best one in the trilogy.

Plot Outline:
Peter Parker (Tobey Maguire) now lives in New York City and is having all sorts of problems. His schoolwork is suffering, the fact that he is Spider-Man is destroying his relationship with both his high school love Mary Jane Watson (Kirsten Dunst) & his best friend Harry Osborn (James Franco). Parker decides to leave Spider-Man behind and just live his life. While researching a college project about scientist Dr. Otto Octavius (Alfred Molina), Parker is invited to a demonstration of Octavius' new fusion based energy source, but the demonstration goes wrong. The four mechanical arms attached to Octavius designed to help him work malfunction & take control of his mind turning him into a crazed madman intent on finishing his dangerous experiments even if means the destruction of New York, that is unless Spider-Man can stop him.

Spider-Man 2 is much better than the first film. The plot gets interesting and is more darker than the first film. The sequel features a more mature feel that suits the film very greatly. The characters are much more balanced and have their own feelings that we get to see in the film. If their is something I have to mention, its that's Mary Jane Watson's hair is more blond than red. Which always distracted me for some reason. I thought Doctor Octopus was a fantastic choice for the main villain in this film. I always knew he was going to be in a Spider-Man film whether that was the second or third film simply because he is a more vicious choice of a villain compared to the Green Goblin from the first film. Other than the mentioned changes from the first film, the sequel pretty much stays on that boat. I was very pleased with Spider-Man 2 because the story is much more better than the first film and its got more heart.

Tobey Maguire who suffered some back problems probably from filming Seabiscuit for Universal Pictures was undecided whether he would return for the sequel. Luckily Maguire didn't let us fans down and he returned for the role of Peter Parker/Spider-Man. Maguire is getting really good at playing this role because he looks and acts way more relaxed compared to the first film. He definitely improves on his acting compared to the first film. We get Alfred Molina playing as Dr. Otto Octavius/Doc Ock and hes the ideal choice to be playing this character. He looks and acts great in his role. I very much enjoyed his performance as the main villain of the film. Kirsten Dunst returns as Mary Jane Watson and shes also getting better compared to the first film, I just wish her hair was more red instead of blond. I mean Mary Jane's hair is suppose to be red. James Franco also returns as Harry Osborn and he gets more screen time this time around. His character definitely gets a push.

The visual effects for Spider-Man 2 are a step up from the first film. The CGI animations look wonderful and creative. Since we get so many new stunts and explosions in this sequel, the visual effects had to be up for the challenge and they were. I was more than surprised on how well the movie controlled Doc Ock's mechanical arms. I really thought it was going to be clunky and unimaginative, but the animation is all their running very smooth. Spider-Man 2 has many moments that are simply breathtaking to watch. The train scene definitely shows this. Detail is also important with many of the building and outer areas looking very sharp with the contrast being high. The special effects team definitely deserves props for doing an amazing job with everything.

The soundtrack in Spider-Man 2 is more lively than the first film. Talented composer Danny Elfman returns to score the sequel. The score the first film had returns in this film too and sounding better than ever. Their was a rumor going around that alot of Elfman's music that he composed for Spider-Man 2 had been cut or not used in the movie since the studio didn't like it or something. I for one would trust Elfman alot since hes composed many great hits in his past so if their is music that Elfman composed for this film that the studio didn't use is a slap in the face for the studio. What we do get besides Elfmans wonderful music is other pop music that apparently goes quite well with the movie. Spider-Man 2 also features better bass and surround use. The bass is cranked up more than the first film and is used very effectively with the film's music. Spider-Man 2 definitely screams reference material.

Spider-Man 2 may have not beaten the box office record that was set by the first film, but this sequel is much more better and satisfying than the first film. The story is great and more diverse with more story lines continuing this great trilogy. The cast is better than ever with many of the returning cast giving better performances and Alfred Molina playing a great Doc Ock. The visual effects are top notch and definitely and improvement from the first film. The soundtrack is more lively and richer with Danny Elfman returning to compose the score. In the end, Spider-Man 2 is a worthy sequel to the 2002 smash hit, Spider-Man. Its got better stunts, better story and a more compelling villain. I highly recommend this film to people who have seen the first Spider-Man film or is interested in a great movie. This is one of the best superhero movies since Batman and X2: X-Men United.

Grade: B

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