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SPIDER-MAN 2 (2004)

"Spider Man II" is the gripping action-packed sequel that continues the death defying adventures of Peter Parker as altruistic superhero Spider Man. This time around Spider Man will have to confront his life-long mentor, the brilliant physicist Doctor Octavious who, after a an experiment goes horribly awry, is transformed into the power-hungry mutanoid "Doc Oc" whose plans to initiate a nuclear power source threaten to destroy all of New York, and arguably the world. Meanwhile Parker's best friend is still on the lookout for a means to avenge his father's death via undermining Spider Man no matter the cost. Further complicating matters, Parker's love, Mary Jane, is betrothed to another and while Parker wrestles with his own feelings about love, he too will have to contemplate forever foregoing his alter ego Spider Man, or once again returning to save the day.

The cast includes: Tobey Maguire, Kirsten Dunst, James Franco, and Alfred Molina.

Written by: Stan Lee and Steve Ditko (comic book), Alfred Gough, Miles Millar, and Michael Chabon (screen story), and Alvin Sargent (screenplay).

Directed by: Sam Raimi.

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Genre: Action, Fantasy, Sci-Fi, Thriller, Romance.

Tagline: He's back to save the day!

Rated: PG-13 for stylized action violence.

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The movie commences with what is quite possibly the worst day of Peter Parker’s (Tobey Maguire) life. Having just been fired from his job at the local pizza place, Peter next discovers he will be let go from his photojournalism job at Bugle news. But though his spirits are down, leave it to Aunt May (Rosemary Harris), long time friend Harry Osborn (James Franco), and the love of his life Mary Jane (Kirsten Dunst) to cheer him up with a quaint yet endearing surprise birthday party.

However long Harry and Peter have been friends, the former still harbors deep resentment for his father’s death, allegedly caused by Spiderman nearly a year ago. Intent on revenge, Harry is disgusted with Parker’s incessant desire to take photos of the ‘bug’-man. Nevertheless, a true friend he is to Parker and he lands him an interview with leading fusion scientist Otto Octavious (Alfred Molina). During his interview for his fusion paper, Parker discovers Otto’s latest project; the harnessing of fusion power into a sustainable energy force. But when Otto tries to showcase the project, instead of a successful reaction, the process goes out of control, killing several people including Otto’s wife, leaving Otto with 4 artificial-intelligent appendages attached to his spine.

To make matters worse the explosion fried the inhibitor chip, nullifying Otto’s ability to override the semi-conscious appendages from their own destructive wishes. When doctors try to saw off the appendages they come to life wreaking havoc and killing everything in sight. Though Otto is initially terrified at his own mutated form, he eventually becomes possessed by the artificial limbs and together he and his eight appendages set out to rebuild the fusion bomb and take over New York City, then the world.

Of course Spiderman has many a run-in with Otto, beginning with the bank where much mayhem and money-flying ensues. While at the bank Otto kidnaps Aunt May, leaving Peter Parker in a vulnerably precarious position. Meanwhile Harry Osborn is still hunting down Spiderman, and Mary Jane has begun seriously dating another man, tired of waiting for Peter to make up his mind and stop disappointing her with empty promises.

Amidst all the hullabaloo of angry friends, distraught lovers, etc., Bugles news director J. Jonah Jameson (J.K. Simmons) rehires Peter to cover the story of Doc Ock and his rivalry with Spider-Man. While attending a grand ball for the editorial company he runs into Mary Jane who is allegedly to be married to the night’s guest of honor, Jameson’s son John. The night caps off with both Mary Jane and Harry calling off their friendship to the boy who is too busy to spend time with his friends.

As if that weren’t enough, while donning his Spider-Man get up he continually finds himself losing his spider powers, including his ability to shoot webs, crawl up walls, etc. It seems as if Spider-Man’s world is falling apart, and his powers are fading to boot. Seeking help from the doctor’s Peter is given the sage old advice, ‘you always have a chance’: And so Peter chooses. Determined not to hide from life any longer he throws away his superhero suit and calls off his nightly travails. Instantly it’s as if a weight had been lifted from his shoulders. He cleans up his act, starts going to school and doing homework. He even goes to see his best friend Mary Jane’s play.

But as the film works its way to an action-packed suspenseful climax, things get sticky between a very tense Mary Jane and Peter Parker. When a car comes flying into a café where the two are having their farewell conversation, Peter Parker instinctively saves Mary Jane. But his nonchalant heroic act pricks Mary Jane’s curiosity and she begins to suspect what she might have known all along; Peter Parker is Spider-Man. But just as Mary Jane begins to show renewed interest, so too does Peter begin to feel as if he needs to re-mask himself and save New York from the perils of Otto.

But when Otto seeks out Harry, the two cut a deal and Otto promises to bring Spider-Man to Harry in exchange for the invaluable Tritium needed to rebuild Otto’s fusion machine. But when Harry has Spider-Man incarcerated in his own house, will he change his opinion about the infamous character once he learns that it has been his best friend behind the mask after all these years; it was his best friend who killed his father. Moreover, what will happen if Spider-Man doesn’t make it to Otto’s lair in time to stop him from ending the world with his nefarious scheme?

“Spider-Man 2” is arguably the best superhero movie of all time. With flawless cinematography and numerous special effects, “Spider-Man 2” is as visually spectacular as it is psychologically and emotionally evoking. Far from a typical comic-book action plot, “Spider-Man 2” brings us a love story, a coming-of-age plot, and man vs. man/God plot that all juxtapose wonderfully into a fluid film that is action-packed and enthralling.

Tobey Maguire, James Franco, Kirsten Dunst, and Rosemary Harris reunite for a sequel that rivals its former film. Tobey Maguire is as convincing as ever as the psychologically tormented teen who wrestles with his precarious situation. Nerd by day, superhero by night, Spider-Man upsets as many people with his heroic acts as he makes them grateful. Moreover, the nerdy boy, Peter Parker, most confront the trials of living a double life, one that takes time and loyalty away from those he cares about most. “Spider-Man 2” is a great film with a universal message about selflessness, mercy, and compassion that all wrap themselves into the cloak of a Spider-Man coming to save the day from the wily evils of comic-book fantasyland. This film is non-stop action and there is enough substantive content to keep one interested even when the fighting sequences wane. Perhaps the best part of the film is the mergence of man and superhero when Spider-Man becomes unmasked in the action. Think a cutting edge version of the Batman series and you’ve got yourself the latest and greatest superhero tale to date.

Main Characters:

Tobey Maguire plays Peter Parker/Spiderman, the geeky teen with a supernatural secret.

Kirsten Dunst plays Mary Jane, Peter Parker’s true love.

James Franco plays Harry Osborn, son of the late Dr. Osborn who’s determined to avenge his father’s death by Spiderman.

Alfred Molina plays Otto Octavious, the fusion scientist whose vision goes terribly wrong.

Rosemary Harris plays May Parker, Peter Parker’s Aunt May.

J.K. Simmons plays J. Jonah Jameson, the director of Bugle news who’s determined to undermine Spiderman’s efforts.

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