I met my first super-hero—the amazing Spider-Man—when I was around 7 years old. I am 24 now and still keeping up with many of those same comics on a monthly basis. Like the Greeks and Romans, these characters—Batman, Superman, Flash, Spider-Man, the X-Men and thousands of others—comprise American mythology. Everyone knows Spider-Man, particularly after the first "Spider-Man" movie, directed by Sam Raimi, broke box-office records and was so well received by the public.
In "Spider-Man 2," Peter Parker (Tobey Maguire) returns with tons of daily problems and a new list of foes. Peter's life is in the crapper, big time. He can't make rent for his one-room New York apartment, and his grades are dropping. His love life with Mary Jane (Kristen Dunst) is going down the drain, and his best friend Harry Osborn (James Franco) is obsessed with Peter's alter ego Spider-Man for killing Osborn's father. Peter wants to walk away from the double life that he leads with the crushing responsibility of being Spider-man. He is full of guilt about his Uncle Ben's death (from the first film); he really hasn't had time to be just Peter.
Enter Dr. Otto Octavius (Alfred Molina). Interestingly, this character wasn't developed much in the comic prior to his becoming a mechanized death machine, but the film provides a back story with an intimate scene and group discussion including Octavius, his former wife and Peter. This is a nice touch to make you feel for Dr. Octavius later in the movie.
Peter, by the way, is also dealing with the loss of his powers (which in the comic was due to the spider-flu, not mentioned in the film). His lovely Aunt May (Rosemary Harris) gives him a talk about heroism, making the point that a true hero is not made by what he does, but how much he gives up in order to make a difference.
"I believe there is a hero in all of us," she tells him. "Give us strength and makes us noble. Even though we have to give up the things we want the most."
Uncle Ben's famous words will always live with Peter (and me): "With great power comes great responsibility." I won't give away scenes or spoilers, but the character development in this movie is great. It's funny when it needs to be funny, and it can shift to serious a moment later.
This is a summer blockbuster that can stand with the big dogs such as "Raiders of the Lost Art," "Star Wars," "Terminator 2," "Die Hard" and other great action movies. "This is the greatest comic book movie ever made," Roger Ebert said of "Spider-man 2." I would have to agree.
In terms of sequels, it actually improves upon the first movie by giving you a double helping of action, comedy, drama, and a guy bouncing around in blue and red spider tights. The computer graphics have been vastly improved, making "The Matrix" look like a silly puppet fight. The movie has entertaining cameos by many people like Hal Sparks ("Queer as Folk"), Donnel Rawlings ("Dave Chappelle Show"), Phil Lamar ("Mad TV"), and the father of the core Marvel Comics universe—Stan "The Man" Lee.
If you have six or seven bucks to go to the movies, make sure you check out the biggest blockbuster of the summer. If you're like me, this movie won't just have you on the edge of your proverbial seat; you'll actually go see it 10 times or more.
In the opening six days of "Spider-Man 2," receipts were $180.1 million, beating "The Matrix Reloaded" at $146.9 million. The first "Spider-Man" made $144.2 million in six days and was released on a Friday, as opposed to a Wednesday for the sequel. The first movie still holds the record of biggest weekend with a huge total of $114.8 million; "Spider-Man 2" has made $88.3 million, making it the biggest movie to open on the 4th of July weekend, defeating "Austin Powers Goldmember."
Ken Patterson is a graphic designer/illustrator for the Jackson Free Press. He has been reading comics for almost two decades.