Spider-Man 2 (PG)
Time Out saysWhat’s a superhero to do when he fancies – nay, loves – a girl but there’s a whole load of crime to fight in the big, bad metropolis? Peter Parker (Tobey Maguire) hits a mid-career existential crisis in this superior follow-up to the original, and the result is all the more interesting for it. Sure, Spidie still emits goo from his wrists and swings through the streets in pursuit of comic book criminals (there’s no terrorist threat in this New York City), but he does so with a heavy heart. Superman was always most intriguing when he was battling his own powers – cowering at the sight of Kryptonite or drunkenly flicking peanuts at bartenders in ‘Superman 3’. Now, poor old Parker joins the line-up of good guys having a crisis. He’s fed up and depressed. Hell, he doesn’t even know if he wants to be a crimefighter anymore, goddammit! Welcome to twenty-first-century America; where even superheroes need a shrink.
The problem? Sweet old Mary Jane Watson (Kirsten Dunst) is still on the scene, tempting Parker to renege on his earlier commitment to duty over domesticity. But there’s trouble brewing in the world of science: maverick nuclear physicist Otto Octavius (Alfred Molina) accidentally turns himself into an eight-limbed, metallic creature who looks pretty nifty in a black leather coat and sunglasses. Molina makes a great bad guy; less of a caricature than Willem Dafoe’s Green Goblin and more menacing as a result of scrimping on the camp histrionics.
It’s not all neuroses and nuclear science. Two centrepiece showdowns between Octavius (or ‘Doc Ock’ as the Daily Bugle tags him) and Spider-Man – the first on a speeding subway train, the second on a derelict pier – make for excellent, gripping viewing. All in all, this sequel is a blockbuster with both a heart and a brain. And Raimi leaves the door wide open for the next, hopefully welcome instalment.