by Chris “Excelsior” Mason
I tried my best to not include spoilers, but I failed. Read on at your own risk.
I looked up WOW in the dictionary and there was an ad for Spider-Man 2! Wow is the best word I can use to describe Spidey 2â€¦ In 2002 after almost two years of ‘hype’ and rumors here at SHH!, organic/mechanical web-shooters, power ranger goblin, all of itâ€¦ I was still blown away by the first film – it was everything we expected. Now here we are again two years later and a whole bunch of rumors nearly behind us. Spider-Man 2 is set to open and will no doubt set all new box office records. Now, not every blockbuster film can have its sequel out-shine its predecessor! Spider-Man 2 does just that! I saw the film with a packed house in Westwoodâ€¦ there was a definite buzz in the air, as I overheard stories of what people’s expectations were for this one and how much they loved the first film.
Working on SHH!, I’ve heard all the rumors, and I’ve tried to stay away from what I knowâ€¦ in some cases trying to forget what I knowâ€¦ once the lights went down and the curtains opened my mind was a blank slate. The now familiar Danny Elfman opening credit cues start up, the Marvel logo flips on screen as we go into a series of Alex Ross painted pieces that retell the story of the first film in a stylized comic form. I got little goose bumps; I was back in that theater two years ago about to see a Spider-Man movieâ€¦
In the two years that Peter has been Spidey his life has taken a nose dive, he can’t hold a job, his grades in school are suffering, his true love is engaged to another guy, his best friend wants Spidey’s head on a platter, JJJ is not interested in pictures of squirrels and poor Aunt May is loosing the house. With everything that’s going on in Peter’s life, and as much as he loves and wants to be Spider-Man he’s haunted by the life he could have had. Now this film could have just picked up where the first one left off, and had Spidey doing Spidey-stuff saving people and fighting any number of the Spider-rogues gallery, and this sequel does open with some great Spidey STUFF – Spider-Man delivering pizza is just too funny! To Sam Raimi’s credit the film instead goes quickly and wisely deep into the characters, the characters ARE the story here, not the effects. Although this time around the special effects are much better and fluid – in the end it’s the characters that make the stunning effects work so well. Without character there are no effects.
Enter DOC OCK.
Those that were more than a little disappointed in the Green Goblin can breathe easy because Ock in his full glory is one cool menacing villain, what would a superhero film be without a colorful baddy? Alfred Molina ends up stealing the show as Doctor Octavius, Doc Ock. His character is mean & nasty and yet you feel a certain sympathy toward him, you feel for him and knowing this makes his motivation worthwhileâ€¦ even if he is throwing people from a speeding train. Doctor Octavius has invented a fusion device that could solve the world’s energy problems. In his few important scenes in the early part of the film before the spectacular lab accident that fuses the articulated tentacles to his body, Molina fills Octavius with heart and passion. In a dinner scene between Peter, Octavius and his wife, we learn all about the good doctor’s back-story. It’s brief but very important. It’s a way to get to know the man before we see the monster. Where the Green Goblin was the evil reflection of Spider-Man, Doc Ock is in a way the symbiotic twin to Peter & Spidey – both saddled with a gift and a curse filled with that need to do what they feel is right. And that is what makes Doc Ock such a great character in this film; his ultimate redemption brings him and Spider-Man full circle by the film’s close
Peter Parker by the middle of the film has reached the final straw with his alter ego, not to mention coping with a nasty case of the spider-flu, which has hampered his ability as a superhero and filled him with self-doubt. Peter tosses his hero ways in the trash. Here a great visual tribute to John Romita, a pivotal image from the comics is brought to life. The sight of the Spidey costume in the trash can as the words “Spider-Man no more” echo as Peter walks away a free man down a stormy alley, literally walking away from his responsibility as a “hero”. Peter is repeatedly tested, asking himself, has he made the right choice? Tobey Maguire as Parker really shows the wear & tear and the torture that life as both Peter Parker & Spider-Man has put him through. Spider-Man 2 proves once and for all that Maguire was the perfect choice to play Peter Parker and the wall crawler.
The balance of the characters and the requirements of a film of this nature (fast-paced-action-packed-summer-blockbuster), are near perfect, just the right blend. This wouldn’t be a Sam Raimi film without humor. One particular scene involving Spidey in an elevator is a stand outâ€¦ and brings out the geek in all of us who have ever walked around uncomfortably in a costume in front of normal folks. Raimi is one of those directors that has a certain “style” – mention Sam Raimi and more often than not you hear EVIL DEAD. Spider-Man 2 (as well as the first film) are no doubt Raimi films, but the director has put his style in the backseat for this franchise, instead focusing on letting the stories of our favorite neighborhood Spider-Man take front stage. Not every director is confident enough o do that. Which in my book makes a SAM RAIMI film a must see.
The special effects this time around are amazing. The seamless interaction between live action actors & CGI stunt-doubles is nearly flawless. The clock tower & train fights are some of the best superhero fight sequences ever put on film. Both actors and stunt men poured all into this film and it shows and they should be commended. To quote Ray Lykins: (Alfred Molina’s OCK stunt double) “For seven weeks we rehearsed the train fight, every move, every step, to the point of where I couldn’t lift my arms anymore”. The fights between Ock & Spidey make the battle between Spidey & Green Goblin seem like a warm up round. They are truly a ballet of fists, claws and websâ€¦ Not to mention the sound of Ock approaching, it’s enough to give you the heebie-jeebies!
Mary Jane is as beautiful as ever, and we never tire of seeing her in some sort of peril – or wet! Harry on the other hand, as much as he wants to be nothing like his father Norman, he has become his father, picking up the reins of OSCORP. The film ends with as many answered questions as unanswered ones. Is Doc Ock dead? What does Harry find behind that hidden mirror? Does MJ get married? Does Peter save Aunt May’s house? And was that Stan Lee again saving another kid from fall debris? The film certainly leaves many things open for Spider-Man 3.
I for one will be seeing this film again and again. And rest assured The Hype! will be there every step of the way as the seeds of Spidey 3 begin to take root!
Source: Superhero Hype!