Since he discovered he had the power to protect the defenseless, Peter Parker’s life has become one big scheduling conflict. Between his 9-5 job as a pizza delivery guy, college classes and keeping the streets of New York safer, Peter (Tobey Maguire) has no time for a personal life… including seeing his childhood crush, the pretty red-head, MJ (Kirsten Dunst). Struggling to keep up on his rent in a crummy apartment, Peter must also dodge his landlord – a problem compounded by losing his job. The recent success of MJ as a Broadway actress makes Peter proud but his best-laid plans to finally see her perform after re-connecting are foiled when he is again pulled into helping police and then not allowed admittance. Dejected over disappointing the girl of his dreams yet again, Peter watches from the sidelines as she puts her faith elsewhere.
Living in anonymity is something Peter relies on as Spider-Man which means he cannot reveal to anyone who he is – especially since his best friend Harry (James Franco) continues his thirst for revenge, blaming Spider-Man for the death of his father. Meeting the great scientist Doctor Octavius (Alfred Molina) and standing in on his latest invention is something Harry arranges for Peter but when the experiment goes horribly array, the man is left injured and his beloved wife dead. Before doctor’s can detangle him from the robotic arms, Dr. Octavius finds himself unable to control his experiment and his scientific project is no longer controlled by him leading to nothing but evil doings as Peter realizes that choosing between lives is not as easy as it sounds.
Working my way through the Marvel adaptations has been lots more fun than it should be. Such is the case with round two of Spider-Man’s adventures. I found this sequel just a smidgeon more fun despite the fact that the villain was equally… well, ridiculous! This franchise takes an interesting approach to their villains. Unlike most counterparts that bring their scripts to the table, here are villains who are fighting against themselves – both of the bad guys aren’t “bad” people prior to an experiment that goes horribly array giving them powers that see them battling against their own worst enemy: Their self. Giving Peter a new enemy each movie is also something I appreciate as I detest seeing the same villain repeatedly come up against the good guy – max, you can get away with it twice before it becomes old and feels like the hero never wins.
Part of this series appeal is Peter’s crush on MJ – it is so pure and just plain adorable! I love their banter though at times, she royally gets on my nerves! Nevertheless, I loved their final scene together (about time she had some gumption!) and the preceding one as she runs through the streets, which I suspect, had something to do with her gown and the filming. Same as before, the cast is impressive and in addition to its top-billed stars we see Elizabeth Banks, J.K. Simmons (The Closer) and in a surprise appearance, Emily Deschanel (Bones), watch closely though or you’ll miss her. Filming saw an improvement in this movie and the overall direction it went in was greatly improved (plus the opening title sequence is not just creative but also a snapshot reminder of what happened in film one). The messages by the end were poignant and by that, the story-telling was approached with more heart. In particular, the scene closer to the end in which the people Spidey just saved was well directed and hits a nerve in sticking up for a cause – a champion, to believe in without reservations. Still not my favorite hero from Marvel, Spider-Man is nothing if not a good time.
(Use discretion: There are some tense moments in the battles Peter takes up – he gets beat up several times and Doc. Ock terrorizes citizens. One “intense” scene finds a train almost going over a dead end portion of tracks into the water. MJ is kidnapped. Profanity is rare if anywhere in the script. The film is rated PG13.)