Troubled times have always called for superheroes and Spider-Man 2 gives the world a superhero who is also a troubled young man torn between his love for his girl and his responsibilities to fight crime. The latest film succeeds largely because it is so human and covers the gamut of emotions including love, death, hate, friendship, frailty, responsibility and the very modern concept, commitment.

Spider-Man 2 is a sequel of gigantic budgetary and special-effects proportions. The first Spider-Man graced the big screen in 2002 and went on to become one of the top 10 box office successes of all time. For those of you addicted to the comic book series, the film’s plot is based on number 50, Spider-Man No More, and director Sam Raimi had considered using the same title for the film.

All the usual characters make a return in the sequel. Tobey Maguire is Peter Parker/Spidey, still angsting for his girl, played by the gorgeous if underwritten Kirsten Dunst. Rosemary Harris plays the aunt still struggling with the loss of her beloved husband and J.K. Simmons is funnier than ever as the rambunctious Daily Bugle editor, J. Jonah Jameson. Alfred Molina plays the new villain, Dr Otto Octavius, the formidable good-man-gone-wrong who morphs into Doc Ock. Rumour has it that many actors, including the likes of Sam Neill, Robert De Niro, Ed Harris and Chris Cooper, were considered for the role but Molina is an inspired choice. He has also had previous experience battling spiders in Raiders Of The Lost Ark.

American Sam Raimi has directed both instalments of the adventures of the superhero first created by Stan Lee and Steve Ditko for Marvel Comics in 1962. Raimi, who is 44, established himself directing cult horror films such as The Evil Dead, Evil Dead II and Army Of Darkness. In recent years he has had some success with A Simple Plan and The Gift but will be better known to fans for his television success with Hercules: The Legendary Journeys and Xena: Warrior Princess. Raimi brings assurance and a powerful team, many with Academy Awards behind them, to Spider-Man 2. But a film, even about superheroes, has to be more than its special effects, a fact we know only too well from the abysmal Daredevil. Thanks to Alvin Sargent (Paper Moon) as well as the Pulitzer Prize-winning Michael Chabon who wrote The Amazing Adventures Of Kavalier And Clay, the script is witty and the characters well rounded. The special effects, at US $54 million, are extraordinary too and add to the pure, old-fashioned entertainment that is Spider-Man 2. Watch out for Spider-Man 3, due mid-2007.

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