I used to miss the old Sam Raimi. The one who would brave winter shoots in the wilds of Virginia in his Caprice Classic, whose favorite leading man was Bruce Campbell, who made cutting off your own hand with a chainsaw funny. After I saw what happened when someone finally threw him some money, my opinion was that Raimi’s strength as a director had lain in making something out of nothing, a skill he no longer had need of and that would fall off like some unnecessary Lamarkian tail. No, I did not like Spider-man. I didn’t even enjoy it very much. But with the sequel, Sam Raimi has done what I thought was impossible: integrate his definite skill as a filmmaker with his new toys and make me enjoy it.
In short, this film is pretty much everything I want in a superhero movie. And I’ve never been one to tailor my demands to the perceived limitations of the genre. Yes, this movie takes extreme liberties with science and logic. Yes, it must be watched with a liberal application of salt. But what we get here isn’t your typical do-gooder strives to keep his identity a secret for reasons we don’t understand. Nor is it your revenge-fantasy anti-hero fare. What I’ve always wanted to know was the inner workings of the hero. Why does he do these things? Why is his identity a secret? If I were a superhero, would I want to fake the guy who has to go to work every day, socialize with co-workers, and go through the really hard stuff I can’t just punch my way through or would the silly costume be my disguise instead of the glasses and mild-mannered reporter schtick? Peter Parker’s life is a study in those questions that plagued me as a kid watching this stuff. The film is an exploration of Peter’s life and the complications which arise from that phrase that makes anyone who’s ever known anyone who read comics either wince or hold their breath in anticipation whenever Uncle Ben comes on screen. This film is exactly what Marvel says they were trying to do in making comics accessible and relevant to the reader, only thankfully without the Stan Lee dialogue, true believer.