Since the news is filled with violent images, I was a little wary of spending two hours watching even more violence. As it turned out, I shouldn't have worried: "Spiderman 2," though not without its share of violence, is a film that focuses more on the inner struggles of its protagonist.
Tobey Maguire returns as Peter Parker, the intelligent, sensitive young man who leads a double life as the hero Spiderman. It has been two years since the fateful day Parker was bitten by a genetically altered spider on a school trip. In that time, he has grown from a wimpy teenager to a more mature college student who also works as a
pizza delivery boy, a photographer and his city's resident superhero.
This hectic and complicated lifestyle is catching up with Parker. While his "career" as Spiderman is flourishing, his grades are dropping, his jobs are in jeopardy, and his relationships with Mary Jane Watson (Kirsten Dunst), Harry Osborn (James Franco) and even his Aunt May (Rosemary Harris) are suffering. He has enough on his plate without the arrival of a new evil genius, but that is precisely what happens.
Alfred Molina plays Dr. Otto Octavius, a renowned scientist and Parker's idol. After an experiment with fusion leaves him with four extraneous mechanical limbs that control his brain, the aptly renamed Doctor Octopus terrorizes the city in hopes of rebuilding his fusion reactor. It is all up to the stressed-out Parker to save the day.
Maguire shines as the confused and overworked hero. He brings sincerity and humor to the role, and his tension over his failing relationships is very believable. Molina also does an excellent job as the tormented "Doc Ock." Franco plays the part of Parker's vengeful best friend with intensity, and Harris is wonderful as his elderly aunt. Each fits their role established by Stan Lee's successful comic while managing to expand the characters and make them relevant today.
This is a truly wonderful film. The action sequences are so realistic that I felt like I was really there. The bond between Parker and his aunt is incredibly moving, and the growth of the relationship between him and Mary Jane is realistic and convincing. At once poignant and amusing, touching and exciting, "Spiderman 2" is a movie for everyone.
This piece has been published in Teen Ink’s monthly print magazine.