Spiderman 2

Feline Dunst and spurting white goo? It can only be Hollywood's latest assault on your senses.

By Nigel Swine

'With great power comes great responsibility.' Responsibility for what, exactly? Wrecking shit and blowing shit up? Keeping us entertained by swooping at top speed through a hyperreal city behind a dude in a tight costume on bungee ropes? Whatever. This film has a great power to entertain, a responsibly it shoulders assiduously.

In all the explosions and general malarkey that goes on it's easy to forget about plot, but that's not important in enjoying this movie. Several things do happen, it's true, just the order doesn't really matter: a big ball of SFX in the wrong hands; Spidey reviled for causing havoc; feline Dunst, pissed off with nerdy Maguire's refusal to commit, propelled into the arms of an astronaut who looks like he prefers pedigree chum to proper food. Spidey loses his ability to shoot white goo because he is deprived of his one true love (mixed psychoanalytic metaphors – shouldn't that make him horny?). This embarrassing deficiency causes him to turn his back on a life of superheroism and concentrate on normal teenage things, like mopeds and advanced physics.

But people won't let him. Principally Harry, his best friend – a splendidly perplexed James Franco, and Dr Octopus. A worthy opponent? Not really, but entertaining nonetheless. Alfred Molina plays the role as half Baldrick, half Stephen Fry, though he does slither round very nicely. Sometimes he converses with his malevolent claws (big pliers on hoover tubes), looking disturbingly like Rod chatting up Emu. This is nothing though: Maguire talks to a dial tone, a window, and his dead uncle in a heavenly car; Harry even talks to Willem Dafoe in a mirror, a plot device straight outta the comic strip functioning to underline any nuance that might otherwise have escaped the unwary. This all results in Parker donning his costume once more and following Dr Octopus to his lair (which appears to be Brighton's West Pier) because, unsurprisingly, he's kidnapped Mary Jane – exactly what Peter didn't want to happen (see the irony there?).

And the ending? Well let's just say that it's all nicely set up for a big-buck sequel. And that Peter gets the girl, though the coward still never actually tells her he loves her. All in all, fairly good then. I love movies like this, and left the cinema grinning wider than Jack Nicholson in The Shining – my favourite bit was watching Toby pull ridiculous old-man faces during moments of extreme exertion. Sure, there are slow patches, easy payoffs, and a very questionable ideology at work behind it all (Dunst sets the feminist project back at least 40 years), but the overexuberance and the ludicrous spectacle of it all make me forget these trifles. Any film that at its romantic high-point has Dunst say to Maguire, 'I've always been standing in your doorway', and totally gets away with it, even managing to be strangely touching, is alright by me.

It's a classic summer blockbuster: big and stupid, like Beethoven, obvious like Nadia, great like cheddar on spaghetti bolognese. All this and the best credits since North by Northwest. Go and see it, but take a leaf out of Maguire's book, whose eyes seem almost constantly bloodshot during the film. This is a subtle hint to the viewer: spend some time with Mary Jane before you go see it, then buy a jumbo size bag of revels and prepare to be entertained.
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