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Spiderman sequal as impotent as its stars

Running time: 118 minutes
MPAA rating: PG-13

Don’t let all the hype fool you, “Spider-Man 2” is NOT the best comic-book movie of all time. In fact, it’s pretty darned mediocre.

Tobey Maguire returns as Peter Parker/Spider-Man, and he spends the first hour having the Bad Hair Day from Hell. He loses his job, he’s behind on the rent and about to flunk out of college. Spider-Man is Mopey-Man, and his depression results in — I kid you not — Web Impotence. So, Parker tosses his spandex suit into the trash.

To make things worse, his heartthrob, Mary Jane (Kirsten Dunst), is getting engaged to an astronaut with all the personality of lumber. This seems fitting, since Ms. Dunst appears to be on Thorazine during all her scenes. Maybe she’s just as bored with the movie as the rest of us in the audience were.

Somewhere near the 17th hour of this interminably long movie, we’re introduced to Dr. Otto Octavius, (Alfred Molina), a scientist who has discovered the key to nuclear fusion and is about to create a “mini-Sun” to power New York City.

Of course, things go horribly wrong in the lab, and Otto becomes Doc Ock, an evil villain with mechanical arms. And since the experiment was a miserable failure the first time around, naturally the Doc deduces that the only solution is to do it AGAIN, only BIGGER. Sure. I think that’s Step 4 of the Scientific Method.

Which means, Spider-Man needs to get motivated, fight the bad guy, save the city, blah blah blah. By the time we get to the action, I hoping Doc Ock’s mini-Sun fries the entire town.

The problem with “Spider-Man 2” is that it’s about 20 minutes too long, the pacing is slooooooow and the first hour is nothing but talk. The three big action sequences don’t appear until the second half of the film. So what you have is two films: The first half, which is more Soap Opera than Superhero, and the second half, which is a lot of CGI characters smashing stuff.

I really wanted to love this movie, but director Sam Raimi just got bogged down rehashing the same character-development ground he covered in the first film. This movie needed a lot more action and a lot less angst.

GRADE: C

(c) 2004 King Features Synd., Inc.