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Still shot from the movie: Spider-Man 2.

Spider-Man 2

Peter Parker (Tobey Maguire) steps back into his Spider-man suit in this sequel, when he gets tangled up with the evil Dr. Octopus (Alfred Molina).

Overall Grade: B+
Violence: C
Sexual Content: A-
Language: B+
Drugs/Alcohol: C+
Release Date: 29 Jun 2004
Run Time: 127
MPAA Rating: PG-13

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In-Depth Review

Once again, Tobey Maguire dons the red and blue suit in Spider-Man 2 and frankly, it's nice to have him back.

Far too often the on-screen fate of the world is left in the hands of glorified criminals. Highly trained personnel stand around wringing their hands with worry while these delinquents are pulled out of seedy holes and given access to unlimited funds and equipment. They have the freedom to engage in disreputable behavior in order to save the day and their sordid pasts are easily forgiven and forgotten.

It's no wonder the term "hero" is quickly being redefined in the minds of young audiences.

Fortunately, Peter Parker (Tobey Maguire) stands out in the crowd of leering, ego-stuffed, rule breaking protagonists who have commanded the screen of late.

Struggling with school, overdue bills and the ability to hold down a day job, Peter's life is so consumed with saving others that there is little time for anything else. Airborne cars and screaming sirens make the masked hero take quick action. Urgent calls to rescue victims from burning buildings and runaway trains also weigh heavily on him.

While he wants to tell Aunt May (Rosemary Harris) about his part in his uncle's death and be able to confess his love to Mary Jane (Kirsten Dunst), there is never a free minute for the masked do-gooder. And the strain of it all appears to be taking its toll.

Ready to hang up his suit, Peter plans to take a new approach to life by spending time on homework and with his best pals Harry Osborn (James Franco) and Mary Jane.

However, in a nearby lab, an experimental demonstration goes seriously awry and transforms Otto Octavius (Alfred Molina) into the dreadful Dr. Octopus. When surgeons attempt to remove four metal tentacles fused to his back, the elite scientist goes ballistic, totally destroying the operating theater and leaving at least one doctor dead. Having turned to the dark side, he vows to recreate his fusion invention, and it'll take superhero intervention to stop him.

Although profanities and passion are minimal (we see some kissing), the film is full of stylized action. Characters are bounced off buildings like rag dolls, dangled from rooftops, beaten up and tossed from speeding transit cars. While the violence is relatively bloodless, the depiction of body and property damage is immense.

Still, for teens, this web spinner is an unusually positive role model. Saddled with an amazing power, he has to choose between using it for good and giving it up. He learns about the difficulty of sacrifice and tries to make the world a better place even when doubters mock him.

Those noble qualities are something muscle-bound, self-absorbed criminal-type heroes will never be able to exemplify--no matter how much we glamorize them.

Discussion Ideas: Talk About the Movie...

Why was the newspaper editor interested in stirring up controversy over Spider-Man? How did it affect newspaper sales? What is the ratio of positive versus negative news stories in a daily paper? Is that reflective of reality?

If people are free to make choices, can they also choose the consequences that will follow? What were the results of Peter’s decisions? How did his choices affect other people?

Who are the heroes in your life? What kind of sacrifices do they make?

Video alternatives

In Superman, Clark Kent is a mild mannered reporter who conceals his superhero identity. Between his stints as Spider-Man, Tobey Maguire portrayed a down-and-out jockey who gets a chance to make a comeback in Seabiscuit.

Home Video Notes

Blu-ray Notes: Spider-Man 2

Release Date: 12 June 2012

Spider-Man 2 releases to Blu-ray (with UV Digital Copy) with the following extras:

- Extended “2.1” cut with optional commentary by producer Laura Ziskin and screenwriter Alvin Sargent

- Two theatrical version commentaries: - Cast and crew & technical commentary

- Twelve-part Making the Amazing featurette

- Hero in Crisis behind-the-scenes featurette

- Ock-Umentary Featurette behind-the-scenes featurette

- Five-part visual effects breakdown

- Blooper reel

DVD Notes: Spider-Man 2.1: 2-Disc Extended Cut

DVD Release Date: 17 April 2007

Coming to DVD just weeks before the theatrical release of Spider-Man 3, this All New 2-Disc Extended Cut known as Spider-Man 2.1 offers eight minutes of new footage and extended action sequences, as well as a web full of other bonus extras. Producer Laura Ziskin and screenwriter Alvin Sargent provide an audio commentary. A trivia track with integrated pop-ups takes you to on the set during key scenes. Featurettes include Inside 2.1, VFX Breakdowns (an in-depth look at the visual effects of the movie), With Great Effort Comes Great Recognition, and Multi-Angle (Danny Elfman’s Score). Of course, there is also a sneak peek at Spider-Man 3. Audio tracks of this unrated edition are available in English (Dolby Digital 5.1), French (Dolby Digital 5.1) and Spanish (Dolby Digital 5.1), with subtitles in English, Spanish and French.

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About the Reviewer: Kerry Bennett

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