Spider-Man 2 (PG-13)
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Set two years after the original movie. I think I saw this in the theater, when it came out in 2004. But I'm just writing a review in 2012, watching it on DVD. I've had the DVD for several years, but I can't recall if I've watched it before now. If I did, obviously I somehow managed to not write a review. Weird. Anyway, it's July 3... the movie The Amazing Spider-Man (a reboot of the character, in a totally new continuity) opened tonight, and of course I couldn't see it. But I thought... I still haven't seen the third movie of the old franchise, so I should watch that. But first I had to watch the second movie (again) so I could finally write a review. And now it's too late in the day for bothering with the third movie. So I don't know when I'll get to that. But whatever, none of this matters. I do so love including personal context in my reviews, in spite of the fact that it couldn't possibly be of interest to anyone but me.
Anyway... Peter Parker is now a pizza delivery guy. And his work as Spider-Man makes him late. Nothing new there. But it is kind of funny how the music made it seem so dramatic as he tried to make a delivery on time, to save his job. Sigh. But he failed, and he got fired. Also, Jameson kind of fires him because he doesn't want to take pictures of Spider-Man for the Bugle anymore. And he's in trouble with Dr. Connors, because he's always late for class. But he's planning on writing a paper on this scientist named Dr. Otto Octavius (who Connors says is a friend of his). Later, when he gets home, he finds his Aunt May, Mary Jane, and Harry all waiting for him. He hasn't seen MJ and Harry for quite awhile. Um... MJ and Harry aren't a couple any more, but she's seeing someone new, apparently. And she's in a play, and stuff. And Harry's running Oscorp, now that his father's gone... and Dr. Octavius is involved in some project there, so Harry says he'll introduce Peter to him. Aside from that, Pete's still having trouble dealing with his feelings for MJ, but also feeling they can't be together, to protect her. And he's concerned about May, who's behind in her mortgage payments, or whatever. Actually, I said "when he gets home," but he wasn't. Because he doesn't live with Aunt May anymore, and... it seems he wasn't expecting company, so I'm not really sure why he was there, but I suppose it's not that odd to stop in on his way home. But later he does go home... to a crappy apartment where he's late on his own rent payment.
Anyway... Dr. Octavius's project involves creating a stable fusion reaction. He's also created these four mechanical arms (more like tentacles with claw-clamp things) that he connects to his nervous system or whatever, so he can control them like real limbs, because they can withstand, you know, fusiony type stuff, to control his project. The limbs have artificial intelligence, but there's a built-in inhibitor chip that makes sure he controls them, and not the other way around. But his experiment goes awry, which leads to the death of his wife Rosalie. It also leads to the arms being permanently fused to his spine, and the inhibitor chip being destroyed, so they'll start to affect his thinking. When surgeons try to remove the arms, the arms kill everyone. And later they convince Octavius to steal money to finance an attempt to rebuild his project. Of course, Jameson's happy to have a new villain (who he dubs "Doctor Octopus") to write about, and sell papers. Meanwhile, Peter's life continues to get worse, as MJ gets terribly upset that he fails to make it to her play, as he promised. And after Octavius's project failed, Harry was left with nothing but his hatred of Spider-Man (who he still blames for his father's death), and his feeling of betrayal over Peter's supposed "friendship" with Spider-Man leads him to end his own friendship with Peter (though we'll later see that Harry still cares about him). Oh, and Jameson rehires Peter to photograph a gala celebrating his son, astronaut John Jameson... who turns out to be the guy MJ's dating. Oh, also, Spider-Man's web-shooting abilities have started to intermittently fail him (presumably because of the perfect storm of stresses in his life, of late).
And after awhile, his other powers begin to fail him, as well. He even has to go back to wearing glasses. So finally, he decides to give up being Spider-Man. Which means he can finally concentrate on his studies, so his performance at school improves, and presumably he's able to make some money, for a change. And he tries to win Mary Jane back, though that's not so promising. But basically, life is better for Peter Parker when he's Spider-Man no more. And yet... it's hard to just turn his back when he sees people in need of help. And later, Aunt May says some things that make him reconsider his decision. Meanwhile, Doc Ock still needs to obtain the substance that powers his experiment, so he attacks Harry and demands he provide some. Harry agrees to do so if he brings him Spider-Man, whom he tells Doc Ock that Peter could find. And... I feel like I've said far too much. I'm not going to reveal any more of the plot. If there's anything that needs telling for the sake of setting up the next film, I'll tell it in my next review. Suffice to say... Peter eventually gets his powers back, and... things end well.
So... critics seemed to think this movie was better than the original. I don't remember for sure, but I think when I first saw it, I thought it was quite good, but still preferred the first movie. Now... well, it's hard to say, but it's better than I remembered it being, and I think it's of a higher quality than the first one, in some ways. The rating I'm giving it is slightly lower than the one I gave the first movie, in spite of that. It's hard to say why. Trust me, I don't understand the way my brain works any better... well, not much better than you do. Yes, I think this is a better movie than the first one, and yes, I still like the first one better than this. Who cares, they're both awesome movies. Anyway... yeah, I thought there were a lot of funny moments in this movie, and a lot of touching personal drama, and lots of cool action. Also... Spidey took his mask off a lot. It was freakin' ridiculous. Also I'm pretty sure the science doesn't make any sense... unless you think a river is stronger than a sun. But you don't watch superhero movies for the tremendous amount of sense-making that they do, right? Anyway... the story was a major downer for most of the movie, aside from the humorous moments, but the end was an upper. And the fact that most of the movie was so soul-crushing is a large part of what's great about it (and probably also a large part of what makes me rate it lower than the first movie). I may be forgetting things I wanted to say... or not. I dunno. Anyway, I suppose I've said enough....
Oh yeah, and Peter's landlord's daughter clearly had a crush on Peter, though that never went much of anywhere. But it was cute. And there were some cool cameos. It goes without saying (but I'm saying it anyway) that Stan Lee had a cameo, and so did Bruce Campbell, and... other people. Joel McHale, for example, who I wouldn't have known when I first saw this, but now I'm a fan from Community. And... once again, I'm shutting up....