SPIDER-MAN 2 IS THE best movie adaptation of a superhero comic since Superman 2—one each to Marvel and DC, then. Like that 1980 Christopher Reeve (R.I.P.) super-vehicle, here the eponymous character, played by Tobey Maguire with muscular sensitivity, is torn between saving the world and giving it all up for The Girl (Kirsten Dunst as Mary Jane). This sets things up quite nicely for Peter Parker's biblical abdication of responsibility when the prospect of losing MJ becomes too great and inevitable return when he realises his true calling. Cue crowds of awestruck peons staring up as the messianic blue-and-red arachnid mega-webs back into view.
Director Sam Raimi gets the balance just right between fidelity to the 2D original and cinematic invention. The fight scenes between our hero and physicist Otto Octavius turned mechanically tentacled insaniac Doctor Octopus are as startling as any you will have seen, but it's not all whomp-that-sucker. Alfred Molina affords his super-villain tragic qualities, and there's real heat to the Maguire-Dunst passion play. The final scene is an even more breathtaking reprise of Spidey's aerial ballet from the coda to Spider-Man. An action movie with awesome power and real pathos.
Bring on Spider-Man 3.
Rating: 5 / 10
Rental and retail dvd&video (columbia tristar home entertainment)