More than 800 000 people disappear off the streets every year. In Captivity it's a top fashion model Jennifer Tree (Elisha Cuthbert) who falls prey to a sadistic mind capable of many creepy ways of torturing her both physically and mentally. It turns out this guy Ben (Pruitt Taylor-Vince) has been watching her long before he drugs and kidnaps her. As he puts her in a dank and dark cell she learns that he has kept a close eye on her personal life and has been in her apartment many times. The only thing keeping her sane is her friendship with a young guy named Gary (Daniel Gillies) who's being held in the cell next to her. But little comfort that is. After being strapped to a table and tortured with worms rats gas and other devices Jennifer is forced to drink down an eyeball shake. Things go downhill from there. Poor Elisha Cuthbert. You would think she would have had her fill with being kidnapped after playing Kim Bauer in her breakout role in 24. The model is snatched so quickly and so early in the film it's hard to develop any sympathy for her but even still she doesn't seem like she deserves much. In fact all Cuthbert really does is scream. She hugs her teddy bear for some emotional thumb-sucking moments but most of the time she just screams. Pruitt Taylor-Vince is always creepy even when playing a sympathetic character (he has that roving eye thing) while Gillies is handsome in that kind of greasy grungy way but a far stretch from the hero type. It would be nice if someone anyone could be even remotely sympathetic in Captivity beside the dog. Perhaps the teddy bear—and the rat. Director Roland Joffe has done some decent movies. He trotted Patrick Swayze to Calcutta for City of Joy and Jeremy Irons and Robert De Niro to the Amazon in The Mission. He even got an Academy nomination directing his first feature film The Killing Fields. The question is: What happened? Captivity is a mess beginning with a nonsensical plot and ending with a twist you can figure out 10 minutes into it and may even be obvious after watching the trailer. The film is also unusually light on gore (except for the eyeball smoothie) and boring two things you definitely don’t want if you’re trying to make a horror film. Unfortunately Captivity will be remembered more for its controversial billboard campaign which had to be toned down more than anything else.
Sometimes it sucks being Spider-Man. Two years of playing superhero has finally gotten to Peter Parker (Tobey Maguire) who finds himself in the middle of an identity crisis. Not only does he feel underappreciated as Spider-Man he's also broke flunking out of college and of course still can't get the girl. He wishes more and more he didn't have this "gift " so he can live a normal mild-mannered life and declare his love to Mary Jane (Kirsten Dunst). She wants to love him too if she could only get some kind of signal but Peter keeps pushing her away (for her own good of course) until she decides she has to move on with her life. Poor Peter. The reluctant hero is also on tenuous ground with his best friend Harry Osborn (James Franco) who is now working for his late father's company but whose growing vendetta against Spider-Man clouds their friendship. While Peter wavers on giving the whole superhero gig up for good across town there's a new even more powerful nemesis in the making. Dr. Otto Octavius (Alfred Molina) a scientist working on a breakthrough fusion-energy invention for Harry's company has a freak accident (is there any other kind?) in his lab which leaves him with four deadly mechanical tentacles fused to his back--and his mind diabolically twisted. Suddenly the city is desperate for Spider-Man's help as the madman dubbed Doc Ock runs amok. For the love of god pull yourself together Peter accept your fate and put those Spidey powers to good use!
As if there are still any doubts Tobey Maguire's performance in Spider-Man 2 reaffirms the fact he fits the Peter Parker/Spider-Man persona perfectly. It's in his eyes his red-rimmed soulful eyes which show every sentiment. Maguire is not afraid to embrace Parker's sensitive albeit nerdy nature. Beneath the buffed out exterior and superhuman abilities he's still a lovable geek deep down (watch him trip over his feet when he walks down the street). As Mary Jane Dunst is thankfully no longer just the damsel in distress but also a thriving and successful actress who displays her own fair share of emotions over their unrequited love. Spider-Man is in essence a love story and these two talented actors continue to spark like the best of them (although rumor has it they can't stand each other in real life. Oh actors.) The intense Franco chews it up with gusto as the angst-ridden Harry. But what truly makes Spider-Man 2 rise above the original is the malevolent Doc Ock played with relish by the brilliant Molina (Frida). Far more menacing and formidable a villain than the Green Goblin (sorry Willem Dafoe) the multi-tentacled mad scientist just plain scares the bejeezus out of you. Yet he also elicits sympathy if you can believe it watching the relatively sane man buried deep within the madness struggle to break free. Heck just about everyone's conflicted in this flick.
It's no wonder Spider-Man 2 surpasses its predecessor. Thanks to comic-book guru Stan Lee who created something operatic in the Spider-Man story the film's heartfelt and inherent conflicts--tortured souls undying love vs. duty to fellow man villains with a conscience--just keeps getting more and more interesting. And luckily director Sam Raimi rarely strays from the main source. From the opening credits where scenes from the first film are shown through glorious artwork Raimi crafts the movie to combine the best in visuals with the compelling story fashioning a thrill ride with heart. One of the best examples is when Spider-Man uses all his strength to stop a speeding train and falls exhausted only to be caught by the people on the train and carefully placed on the ground. Exposed and vulnerable Spider-Man's faith is renewed when the folks around him tell him they'll keep his secret safe. Classic stuff. The only minor drawback is the time it takes for Peter to get over his identity crisis; the "will he won't he?" drags a bit. Maybe we just get a little anxious for Parker to realize people really do need Spider-Man and to finally go webbed head-to-mechanical tentacle with the nasty Doc Ock. It's what a must-see summer blockbuster is all about baby.