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Spider-Man 2

I try not to believe hype, but that policy has this time left me out in the cold. It really is amazing! An action movie with great action, pretty girls, a believable plot (story-line, actually) and characterisation, too!

Peter Parker is one of the best-written real-life personas of a superhero; he’s lacking in confidence, he has a sad background and loses even the family members he does have to his mortal enemies. He has revealed his super-powers to his aunt and uncle, but they still accept him as their bumbling nephew. He’s somehow won the heart of the girl next door (although I have to complain loudly that none of the girls living next door to me were ever ‘girls next door’; they were usually either ‘girls next league’ or ‘girls next planet’, while there were also a few 'girls - next please'). He’s gained Mary-Jane through no effort of his own; he's just been dull and clumsy, but more constant than the flash harries and wide boys she’s been dating.

Compare Clark Kent; musculature and winsomeness sufficient to win Lois Lane with his pants worn on the inside. Okay, he is a bit straight and wears horn-rimmed spectacles, but then they’re quite appealing features in their own way. He’s already a super man, as the girl comments, in the middle of the one-shot quick-change scene.

Compare also Bruce Wayne; musculature and vast wealth, coupled with a playboy lifestyle and the Boy Wonder as a sidekick. What’s not to like? Yes, yes, he’s an orphan, but with stately Wayne Manor and Aunt Harriet and Alfred the Butler, he’s going to get the girl despite the Batman alter ego.

And what about Diana Prince? Major, dazzling babe in t-shirt and jeans, with the pulling power of a team of white horses. A few spins and Wonder Woman’s showing off her thighs too, and that’s no bad thing, but she really doesn’t have to try very hard, does she?

Anyway, I’ve gone off topic.

So.

Ah yes, this new film, then. The action is better than ever, with set pieces and wonderful gymnastics and huge destruction and last-second rescues. The technology to show us Spidey swinging through the skyscrapers is spectacular and exciting.

The baddie is so much better this time, too. The Green Goblin hid behind his steel mask and rode a surfboard menacingly; Doc Ock has real madness as well as a personality buried deep behind his wicked ways. The physical realisation of the many-tentacled one is perfectly achieved, because of the excellence of the acting from Alfred Molina. The foolish mistake of hiding the villain’s face in the first movie is corrected, as everyone knows that Dr Octavious’ experiment went wrong and the little blue control chip was damaged. I fear that young Harry may take on the mantle and the steel mask of the Green Goblin in the third film, and we’ll lose the impact of seeing the evil in the bad guy’s eyes again. But we shall see.

Tobey Maguire and his occasional pectorals do well, and Kirsten Dunst looks good and acts with a refreshing realism not seen since Sandra Bullock in Speed. It’s like she has found MJ inside her and is living her on screen, rather than being an actor who is pretending to be another character. Perhaps that’s a credit that belongs to the casting department; they saw MJ in KD. But the result is that the observer feels her pain when PP doesn’t appear at the play; when he lets her down; when he doesn’t respond; and when she tells him she’s going to marry Astronaut John. It’s a tender, beautiful part brilliantly written, exquisitely played.

The original story by Stan Lee and Steve Ditko stands up, as does their artwork; director Sam Rani had a storyboard right there, to which he stuck, wisely.

This is a sequel which, like X-Men 2, is hugely better than the original, and could stand alone, except this one has a cliff-hanger ending. But unlike X-Men 2, this one hasn’t foolishly bumped off the pretty girl at the end.

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