PG-13 for stylized action violence
Teenagers to adults
June 30, 2004
2 hrs., 7 minutes
Tobey Maguire, Kirsten Dunst, Alfred Molina,
James Franco, Rosemary Harris, J. K. Simmons, and Bruce Campbell
Laura Ziskin and Avi Arad
Stan Lee, Kevin Feige, and Joseph
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By Ted Baehr
The best action movies are those which not only entertain but
are also profound contemplations on issues of morality, and sometimes
on the nature of heroism. They also have a great charismatic villain
(sometimes two such villains), who presents a real physical and mental
challenge to the hero. A little humor doesnt hurt.
Spider-Man 2, the sequel to one of the biggest blockbuster movies
of all time, has all these things and more besides. Its an intelligent,
passionate action movie with something for everyone, young and old
The movie picks up where the first movie left off. Peter Parker,
a.k.a. Spider-Man, is still pining for M.J., even though hes
decided to give up his love for her in order to protect her from Spider-Mans
evil enemies. Peters life of fighting crime, however, is ruining
his friendship with her, as well as his friendship with super-rich
Harry Osborn. The Spider-Man persona is also hurting his college studies,
not to mention causing his boss at a pizza delivery joint to fire
Meanwhile, to help Peter get back in the good graces of his science
professor, Harry gets Peter an interview with Dr. Otto Octavius, a
kindly, but intense, scientist whos working on a method of creating
and marketing fusion power for the company Harry inherited from his
late father, who happened to be the evil Green Goblin whom Spider-Man
had to kill in the first movie. Peter has doubts about Ottos
experiment, but he and Peter hit it off. Dr. Octavius and his wife
even offer a word of advice about love to Peter, that you have to
share the love inside you, or else emotionally and spiritually implode.
Just as Peter suspects, Ottos experiment goes awry. The fusion
energy, which appears as a tiny sun, becomes a powerful magnet in
the room, with pieces of metal and metallicized glass hurtling toward
it. Long mechanical arms powered by the energy and attached to Ottos
back start going berserk. When people try to detach the arms, the
arms strike back. Finally, the chip protecting Ottos brain from
the artificial intelligence of the mechanical arms breaks off, and
only Spider-Man is able to shut down the experiment and turn off the
deadly artificial arms.
Later, the mechanical arms force Otto to escape from the hospital,
killing several doctors and nurses. The computerized brain powering
the arms takes over Ottos mind, and he agrees with it that they
must set up another experiment, but that they need to rob a bank to
get the money for it.
Otto and the arms begin terrorizing the city, even endangering Peters
Aunt May. Jameson, Peters mean boss at the newspaper where he
sells action photos of Spider-Man, nicknames Otto Doctor Octopus,
or Doc Ock for short.
Eventually, Peter must decide whether to keep fighting evil criminals
like Doc Ock or quit being Spider-Man forever and restore sanity to
his private life, hopefully reuniting with the beautiful M.J. Moreover,
Peters contradictory emotions are tearing him up inside and
he seems to be losing his super spider powers because of it.
Spider-Man 2 is terrifically entertaining, with lots of action and
amazing special effects, plus a few unexpected plot twists. That doesnt
stop director Sam Raimi from stopping every once in a while to take
stock of his complex characters and their personal situations. This
heightens the emotional power of the story, which is often very poignant.
Raimi also has a little fun with Peter Parkers angst and the
fantasy of being a superhero. All the actors do a super job portraying
the relationships and emotional connections between their characters.
Despite some intense action violence and very light foul language,
Spider-Man 2 has excellent lessons for older children and their parents.
It teaches that people should use their talents, including their intelligence,
for the good of all people and that self-sacrifice is a good thing.
Ottos wife tells Peter that her marriage is good because she
and Otto work at it. Aunt May reminds Peter that people, especially
children, need heroes and role models. These positive messages give
added heartfelt depth to the story and characters.
Like its predecessor, Spider-Man 2 has a very strong Christian worldview.
Although God, Jesus Christ, and the Bible are not specifically mentioned
in the dialogue, the story wraps its theme of self-sacrifice and heroism
in explicit visual Christian metaphors. There are visual references
to Jesus Christs suffering on the Cross, His death and resurrection,
the crown of thorns that the Romans placed on Christs head,
and the biblical theme of moral and spiritual discipleship.
The last metaphor or allegory is very interesting, because both Peter
and his nemesis, Doc Ock, are torn between their negative or sinful
side and their better natures. Doc Ock is a kindly, intelligent scientist
who is seduced into evil by his ambitious pride and the evil mechanical
voices in his head. Peter is seduced by his own selfish desires. Both
must learn how to overcome their sinful natures and walk in a spirit
of light rather than darkness. In that way, SPIDER-MAN 2 reflects
the biblical passages in the Christian New Testament that talk about
the battle between the two natures at war in the human spirit when
someone accepts Jesus Christ as his savior and is born again. In this
movie, Peter Parker and Spider-Man are not just a Christ figure, they
are a symbol for all of us who are trying to be imitators of Christ
for the benefit of our fellow man and the good of society. The movie
skillfully blends this redemptive symbolism into its provocative theme
on the nature of, and need for, sacrificial heroism.
If you like thrilling, redemptive action movies with lots of positive
values and lots of heart, then Spider-Man 2 is the best ticket to
cinematic bliss so far this year. It stirringly raises the bar for
what a summer action movie should be.
NOTE from Dr. Ted Baehr, publisher of Movieguide Magazine: For
more information from a Christian perspective, order the latest Movieguide
Magazine by calling 1-800-899-6684(MOVI) or visit our website at
Movieguide is dedicated to redeeming the values of Hollywood
by informing parents about today's movies and entertainment and by showing
media executives and artists that family-friendly and even Christian-friendly
movies do best at the box office year in and year out. Movieguide
now offers an online subscription to its magazine version, at www.movieguide.org.
The magazine, which comes out 25 times a year, contains many informative
articles and reviews that help parents train their children to be media-wise
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