Saturday, 17 May 2014

Spider-Man 2 (2004)





















So after the massive success of the first film and fears about a low budget horror director taking the helm put to rest, amongst other things, we get the obligatory sequel. A second chance for another Spider-Man thriller with better effects, better sets, better costumes, better CGI...better everything, but still just a tad exactly the same as the first film.

Two years on and Parker is trying to cope with his daily grind, his love for Mary Jane and of course being Spidey. Ah but wait, Peter Parker let me introduce the rather stocky Dr. Octavius and his obvious pending disaster he calls a self-sustaining fusion reaction (which he handles with large mechanical, artificially intelligent tentacles attached to his nervous system through a special chip). Before you can say 'my Spidey sense is tingling' it all goes tits up as the experiment goes, errr...tits up! A power surge disrupts the spinal chip that controls Octavius's mechanical tentacles making them sentient, which in turn start to influence Octavius. And voila! the Doc becomes a dastardly baddie hell bent on...umm doing his experiment all over again for some reason.

Yep the introduction of Alfred Molina was yet another brilliant bit of casting as his performance as the calm methodical Doc Ock (along with his perfect build and looks) save the film from becoming rather mundane. Just like the first film the villain is the winning ticket and gives this adventure a shot in the arm which is so clearly required. Now I'm not saying this film was bad but the strangest thing...back in the day I always preferred this film over the original, but now the tables have turned and I find myself enjoying the original much more. I think the problem with this film is it really starts to lose its sense of semi realism and my suspension of disbelief goes right out the window.

Although that being said, the sequence where doctors attempt to remove Octavius's mechanical arms from his body is actually pretty heavy on the horror factor. With the arms developing sentience they take out all the doctors in a pretty ferocious manner, its pretty dark. Raimi clearly has fun here and even manages to include a little chainsaw homage.

Now I always thought Spider-Man was merely a regular guy with extra strength, speed, endurance and jumping ability, along with the few special skills of being able to climb walls and shoot gooey web stuff. But he was still able to get hurt, cut, bleed and generally die. In this film Spider-Man is virtually invincible and practically as strong as the Hulk or Superman so it seems. I mean really...he's falling from massive heights and slamming into walls and cars, he can hold up huge metal structures, lift incredible weights and stop a runaway train with his gooey web stuff and arms! Was Spider-Man always this powerful??

There are also some really silly hokey issues dotted throughout that bugged me. Doc Ock hides out in the one and only run down shack in the middle of the harbour and it stands out like a sore thumb, no one ever thought of looking there? Even when the lights were on? When Doc Ock robs the bank no one notices him just standing there right next to the vault door in his long trench coat, hat and shades looking pretty suspicious. Oh and how do you hide four giant mechanical arms under a coat? Why does the Doc go from being a decent human being into someone who would kill innocent people? I realise the tentacles are influencing him slowly but would he really kill people? Plus when the Doc goes to see Osborn for the tritium why didn't he just force Osborn to hand it over instead of agreeing to get Spider-Man in exchange for it, surely that would have been easier and saved time.

How does the Doc get all that expensive equipment? I know he pinched some cash from the bank but that wouldn't cover it. Plus how was it delivered?! Didn't anyone notice all this stuff being delivered to this abandoned building in the harbour where no one goes or lives? Didn't anyone think it was odd or suspicious? And what on earth was his experiment about?? What was it for? What would it do? It just felt like an outrageously diabolical device just for the sake of being a diabolical device. If he managed to finish it then what? Would he become a good guy again? All he wanted to do was finish the experiment so its not like he was trying to do anything bad, and the experiment was suppose to be for the good of mankind right? Maybe let him do his stuff?

The special effects in the film were an improvement over the first film but again looking back they still look a bit dated. Seeing Spider-Man swing through the city (but what the hell is he attached too?? its hilarious!) is looking much better but most of the shots were we see Doc Ock walking along via his four mechanical arms are really bad at times. The entire runaway subway train sequence is really dodgy looking nowadays, the fight on top of the train and seeing the Doc throw those obviously bad CGI people from the train...blimey its bad!

So yes the action is bigger louder and more impressive than the first film but the CGI effects are way more obvious to me, far more hokey looking. Close up shots of Doc Ock and his arms are fantastic, the way the arms lift him up, the way the arms look...all brilliant, but the bad outweighs the good I'm afraid. There is so much dodgy CGI and bluescreen work in here, the sequence where Parker rescues the little girl from the burning building, rescuing May Parker from the Doc halfway up a skyscraper made me cringe especially, the car being chucked through the cafe window etc...

Oh and why does Parker seemingly lose his Spidey powers halfway through yet gains them back again from nowhere? I realise Parker goes through something of a mental breakdown what with everything going wrong in his life, but would that cause his spidey powers to disappear? Would he really lose his abilities through sheer depression and anxiety?

Surprisingly I didn't enjoy this as much as I thought I would...and I'm honesty being honest here. Molina is superb as Doc Ock and the action is deserving of kudos for the ambition, but visually it lacks quality in my opinion and there are lots more silly niggly bits that stand out to me. This sequel definitely felt more along the lines of a Schumacher Batman flick at times, its reasonable fun but the original still easily surpasses it.

6/10