My Gift, My Curse
Spider-Man 2
Review by Ross Anthony

This is one of the best films of the year. It's a love story with action. Perhaps the most introspective multi-million-dollar action-comedy ever. Spider-Man is a superhero with issues. And the integration of the touchy-feely, the smashy-crashy, the lovey-dovey, and "webbed" flight of fantasy makes for a cinematic entertainment experience worth twice the ticket price. (And it's peppered with good solid laughs to boot.)

The production opens with some sweet water color paintings (done by Alex Ross) that recap the first film. Viewing Spider-Man (the first movie) isn't a prerequisite, but I'd suggest it. (In fact, I'd wished I'd re-watched it). There are several threads that continue here and you may be a bit confused for a while about some of them. Still, the filmmakers have outdone themselves with this sequel. I absolutely loved the first half of the first movie: the Spider-Man 2self-discovery, Peter Parker's getting to know himself as Spider-Man, the swinging. It was the overblown villain of that film's second half that I didn't like. As soon as Spider-Man started fighting him, the film just got silly. In "2," they've found a new angle on introspection: "Can Peter and Spider-Man live together in the same person?" "What of the dreams Peter Parker must sacrifice -- is that fair?" This is the internal struggle. And it's a good enough one to base the entire film on; in fact, this episode's super-villain (who's easier to enjoy anyway) takes a back seat to that conflict. Further, instead of breaking the film in half (first part inner struggle, second part fight the super-bad-guy), "2" chops those threads up and weaves them together like err, well, a web. The love story is the third thread.

Atop this juicy plot-blueprint, throw in seat rumbling special effects, really good acting, great casting, a driving pace, splendid cinematography, strong score, strong direction and you've got a film with some serious entertainment impact.

The only areas for improvement (and these are minor flaws): The film strikes the comedic "Peter Parker is a dweeb" cheap site-gag a few too many times. And, though probably necessary, the characters occasionally speak important lines to themselves. This feels just a bit awkward, as regular people would normally just "think" those lines, not say them out loud for an audience's benefit.

Spider-Man 2 But boy, I just love the downtown trapeze, cityscape swinging scenes. The CGI has greatly improved from the first time around (which I loved -- even in its imperfection). The motion capture, inertia, weight and feel of this "monkey" like spider are fantastic. Add in a "flying" camera, and these scenes give you the feel of being inside them, of swinging from skyscraper to skyscraper yourself. A truly immersive experience. "Spider-Man 2" is an easy A film. Very nearly "A+."

(Oh, of note, the action scenes are quite course, they rumble with tremendous power and people get hurt -- the point: these parts may actually be a bit too scary for little kids.)

Incidentally, This is a New York film. Peter Parker has moved from his Aunt's home (in Queens) to a Manhattan apartment.

  • Spider-Man 2. Copyright © 2004. Rated PG-13.
  • Starring Tobey Maguire, Kirsten Dunst, James Franco, Alfred Molina, Rosemary Harris, J.K. Simmons. Donna Murphy.
  • Directed by Sam Raimi. Screenplay by Alvin Sargent.
  • Screen Story by Alfred Gough and Miles Millar and Michael Chabon.
  • Based on the Marvel Comic Book by Stan Lee and Steve Ditko.
  • Produced by Laura Ziskin and Avi Arad at Columbia/Marvel. (c) 2004.

Grade..........................A (3.5/4)

Copyright © 1998-2019 Ross Anthony, Author - Speaker - Solo World Circumnavigator In addition to reviewing films and interviewing celebs at, traveling the world, composing great music, motivational speaking, Mr. Anthony also runs his own publishing company in the Los Angeles area. While traversing the circumference of the planet writing books and shooting documentaries, Mr. Anthony has taught, presented for, worked &/or played with locals in over 30 countries & 100 cities (Nairobi to Nagasaki). He's bungee-jumped from a bridge near Victoria Falls, wrestled with lions in Zimbabwe, crashed a Vespa off a high mountain road in Taiwan, and ridden a dirt bike across the States (Washington State to Washington DC). To get signed books ("Rodney Appleseed" to "Jinshirou") or schedule Ross to speak check out: or call 1-800-767-7186. Go into the world and inspire the people you meet with your love, kindness, and whatever it is you're really good at. Check out books by Ross Anthony. Rand() functions, Pho chicken soup, rollerblading, and frozen yogurt (w/ blueberries) also rock! (Btw, rand is short for random. It can also stand for "Really Awkward Nutty Dinosaurs" -- which is quite rand, isn't it?) Being alive is the miracle. Special thanks to Ken Kocanda, HAL, Jodie Keszek, Don Haderlein, Mom and Pops, my family, R. Foss, and many others by Ross Anthony. Galati-FE also deserves a shout out. And thanks to all of you for your interest and optimism. Enjoy great films, read stirring novels, grow.

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Last Modified: Saturday, 16-Sep-2006 07:54:12 PDT