There’s an inherent irony to someone such as myself who writes movie reviews as a hobby to even contemplate saying this but often it’s impossible to reconcile what one reads about a film with what one sees personally. Not even on an artistic interpretation level but simply the buzz surrounding a project.
Take Inception for example, which despite being superior in quality in no way matched up to the praise being heaped upon it by others, at least in my mind. On a much greater scale exists “Spider-Man 2” with an approval rating rarely matched by anything else and yet I found to be distinctly average.
But I ramble, so best get to hacking and slashing.
Assuming the mantle of Spider-man has weighed heavily on Peter Parker (Toby Maguire), his grades plummeting along with his personal and professional life taking a substantial hit. Terrified to risk Mary Jane’s (Kirsten Dunst) safety by becoming involved with her, Parker instead question whether or not he should return to his normal life, however his very ability to do so with a new criminal Doc Ock (Alfred Molina) running amok will be called into question as the once respected scientist threatens the safety of Manhattan.
Maguire still lacks the charisma to sustain the role or even our attentions for long. Despite the possibility that he’s a wonderful person to know, his incarnation of Peter Parker is devoid of any distinguishable personality traits resulting in a movie hinged upon very little. “Cute” techniques and story elements are constantly employed to breathe life into the character but are gimmicks and little else, not only damaging the story progression but general consistency.
Even with both Franco (as best friend Harry Osborne Jr) and Dunst having their own distinct subplots, the characterisations border on crass, if not outwardly hollow. The first, overacts a terribly contrived obsession with the later stifled entirely by the narrow re,it given to her, other than to appear fickle and at times needlessly romantic.
Molina, repeatedly praised elsewhere for the supposed life brought by his performance in actuality has the same issues with writing, initially being granted a reasonably comfortable framework for his character to develop within before being reduced into a garish threat for a man of his apparent intellect.
Specialising in the B-movie genre before helming the first installment, Raimi has obviously been allowed more input as to the style and feel of the piece due to the original’s success. Unfortunately, most of the changes have done it a disservice. His sense of humour in particular leads to a significant lag where it is not needed such as Octavious’ violent awakening in the hospital and his capture of Aunt May not soon after. Both are so preposterous, so infantile and derivative in execution, it’s impossible for me to think how anyone would accept this as genuine talent. Absurdism is to be commended due to implied difficulties it carries with it but never for the sake of it or to simply sate the director’s personal appetite.
More importantly, a generic trait of any superhero movie is the idea of a secret identity, a fact that no one here is prepared to respect. Yes there are exceptions and instances where the hero may be unmasked but the sheer frequency under Raimi’s direction begs the question of how much respect they have for the project as a whole.
Visually the movie is passable. Far from exuding the most seamless of CGI (evenly the standards of the time), this shiny, desensitised metropolis serves as enough of a distraction to make up for the subpar story and direction. In most action scenes, there is an overall slickness seen nowhere else.
Focusing on a poorly-painted hero and juvenile direction, this sequel only redeeming trait is the CGI and action present enough to make it watchable.