There are two personal touches in ”Spider-Man 2” director Sam Raimi’s makeshift office on the Sony lot. Tucked into a corner of the otherwise anonymous space is a freestanding gum-ball machine — a gift from Spidey himself, Tobey Maguire. And on the paper-scattered desk there’s a supersize bottle of Maker’s Mark bourbon.
If anyone understands the potent and profitable alchemy of mixing sweet fun with a whiskey-dark sensibility, it’s Raimi and his cast. After seeing 2002’s ”Spider-Man” become one of this millennium’s largest studio franchises (it hauled in more than $400 million in domestic box office to become the fifth-largest-grossing picture of all time), the superpowers of Maguire, Kirsten Dunst, and Raimi have reactivated for part 2 (unmasked June 30).
Also returning are Rosemary Harris, James Franco, and J.K. Simmons. And the villain? He is, as he refers to himself, ”the new kid on the block.” British actor Alfred Molina (”Frida”) joins the ranks as the half-man, half-octopus Doctor Octavius (Doc Ock to the cool kids). The heart of the story remains the same: Peter Parker’s emotional roller coaster — can a superhero have a personal life while saving the world? But it’s jazzed up with special effects designed to make even the most jaded cinemagoer gasp.