Dr. Octopus presents eight times the trouble for Spider-man.
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.