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ReelTalk Movie Reviews
To Be or Not To Be a Hero
by Betty Jo Tucker

When a sequel surpasses the original movie, especially a splendid one, there’s cause for joyous celebration. Such is the case with Spider-Man 2. Having just returned from seeing this terrific film, I’m definitely ready to party. Still, don’t think I begrudge taking the time to share my enthusiasm with you first, dear reader, for I want everyone to know what a fun movie experience this second Spider-Man adventure is.  

What’s so good about it? Everything.  From heartwarming performances by Tobey Maguire and Kirsten Dunst to mind-blowing special effects for Dr. Ock (Alfred Molina) -- one of the most eye-popping villains seen in any comic book adaptation to date – or from Spidey soaring through the skyscraper canyons of New York to Peter Parker ruining his only white shirt by washing it with his scarlet Spider-Man outfit, or from each of these cinematic treats to what comes before, after and in between, Spider-Man 2 delivers sheer movie pleasure. 

Just like Spider-Man, this sequel has much more going for it than action and special effects. In fact, Peter Parker reminds us of William Shakespeare’s Hamlet as he ponders over whether “to be or not to be” Spider-Man, the superhero. It’s getting harder and harder for Peter to live up to his Uncle Ben’s (Cliff Robertson) philosophy of “with great power comes great responsibility.” No actor today is better than Maguire at evoking empathy for the characters he portrays, so I agonized right along with Peter about how to juggle demanding Spider-Man crime fighting duties with his two jobs, his college studies, his responsibility to his aunt (Rosemary Harris), and his love for Mary Jane Watson (Dunst).

Director Sam Raimi continues to earn my respect and admiration as a filmmaker. He’s become a master at blending fast-paced action, gentle humor and poignant human interest themes. I wonder if he learned how to do that while serving as executive producer of TV’s Hercules: The Legendary Journeys and Xena: Warrior Princess? Or from his work on The Evil Dead horror movies? Maybe not, but this Spider-Man effort, with help from screenwriter Alvin Sargent, showcases his impressive talent in full bloom.

Raimi, a Spider-Man comic book fan since he was 7 years old, hopes people really love this film. “I want them to leave the theater and say, ‘I had a blast, I was moved by it, I feel uplifted,’” he told Entertainment Weekly. Here’s one viewer who said those very words after seeing Spider-Man 2.  

And now, it’s time for me to party.

(Released by Columbia Pictures and rated “PG-13” for stylized action violence.)

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