Movie Poster
Spider-Man 2
Sam Raimi
Tobey Maguire, Kirsten Dunst, Alfred Molina, James Franco
127 min.


You can practically feel the pressure lift off Sam Raimi in Spiderman 2. The first one would have been an expensive and career-killing failure. But since, instead, it set box office records, Raimi was free to let his hair down a little on the sequel. And let it down he does. And take off his glasses, transforming him She's All That-style into a real beauty. This is more evidently a Sam Raimi picture: his humor is all over the whole film, not limited to the newspaper office. Granted, the scenes with J.K. Simmons' J. Jonah Jamison are still indisputable highlights: he's got the best jokes in the movie and he nails all of them.

But as the reviews all say, this is an improvement over the first in almost every respect. Bruce Campbell lands a better role, a jerk usher with the second best jokes in the movie, and almost, but not quite, reminds me of Crimewave.

Much as I love Willem Defoe (I mean, the man was Bobby Peru), Otto Octavius (Dr. Octopus) is a much better character than the Green Goblin was. And Alfred Molina is fantastic as the villain, where Defoe seemed to be struggling to ham enough to make the Goblin interesting. Alfred Molina smiles in just the right way to make his villainy amusing, even endearing. Especially in a scene on a sub car that openly mocks one of the cheesiest moments from the first.

The biggest problem with the first was, of course, the, at times, almost insufferable dialogue: Uncle Ben's forced sitting-around-at-home monologues and his responsibility speeches (almost seems like the improvement is just that Ben's dead, yeah?). They did beef up their writing roster: Pulitzer Prize winner Michael Chabon worked on the screen story, and Ordinary People's Alvin Sargent wrote the script. But for all that, the dialogue is rarely great, it just never grates like it did in the first (Go ahead, read that again. You earned it).

At times it reminds me more of Darkman than of Spiderman (1). Whether or not this is a good thing is up to you. I was pleased. And surprised at how often I think about PERMDAS.

Pat Jackson