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Spider Man 2
Posted to Movies at 08:50 PM on Feb 7, 2005

2004. Colombia Pictures. Directed by Sam Raimi. Starring Tobey Maguire, Kirsten Dunst, and Alfred Molina.

I think I'm in the vast minority.

Willem Dafoe is one of my favorite "guilty pleasure" actors. He leaves little slimy, chewed-up pieces of scenery wherever he goes, but I love to watch him. He looks like he loves being in movies and gets a huge thrill out of acting. His performances are always a hoot. He was the absolute best choice ever to play genius scientist Norman Osborn (aka the Green Goblin) in the original film.

The Green Goblin is a villain I can get behind. This time, Peter is facing a much less interesting arch-nemesis. He, too, is a scientist. He is attempting to launch a machine that achieves fusion. Things go horribly awry and, long story short, he winds up with octopus arms and terrorizes the whole city.

Now, admittedly, I don't read comic books. There must be a lot of subtext and plot and all kinds of things that I missed that a comic book fan could appreciate. But honestly, this film did nothing for me. I liked how the first film ended. I still liked the Peter Parker character and there were just enough unanswered questions to keep one thinking and speculating after the film was over. I rather liked the first film.

We join the story where it left off. Peter is broke; his love interest, Mary Jane, is dating an astronaut; and his best friend, Harry, is mad at him because he refuses to give up the killer of his father (the Green Goblin himself). There is much hand-wringing. Peter is especially tormented over his relationship with Mary Jane. He loves her. But he says he doesn't. But he does. So he pouts. He tells her he loves her. She says she's engaged. She breaks off her relationship for him. He says he's not into her. And on and on, for two hours. Peter is the most passive aggressive man since any of Woody Allen's characters. For a superhero, he's kind of a wuss.

The CGI used throughout the film is the star of the show, and I don't mean that in a good way. Instead of a strong plot, we have lots of expensive special effects. At times, the effects are distractingly obvious. The octopus arms look like an abandoned prop from The Matrix

Alfred Molina plays the villain, Dr. Octopus. He's not bad. He's a veteran actor (Chocolat, Magnolia). He does what he can, but he's really much too good for the role. A lesser actor could have injected a campiness or an irony into the role that would have made Dr. Octopus more entertaining. Molina takes it really seriously and plays Dr. Octopus like a tortured soul with deep-seated issues. And it's not believable, because we just don't get to know Dr. Octopus that well.


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