Problems Peter Parker's got his share.

The protagonist of the new blockbuster film "Spider-Man 2" must support himself and recently widowed Aunt May while taking classes full-time. He loves a woman, Mary Jane Watson, he can't have. As a free-lance photographer, Parker gets no respect from his boss. As a pizza delivery man, he's a bust. Parker has $20 to get through the week and the landlord of the dump Parker rents is eyeing that little bit greedily.

Parker's talents he's an exceptional science student and a gifted photographer don't mean much because he's so overwhelmed. The one plus in the young man's corner is that a freak accident in a laboratory environment two years earlier endowed him with the agility and proportional strength of a spider. But Parker's use of those abilities as his alter ego, Spider-Man, always seems to bring him in conflict with a bizarre array of villains, each more sinister and powerful than the last.

But Parker, played in the movie by Tobey Maguire, keeps trying to do the right thing in the face of overwhelming odds.

That's what makes "Spider-Man 2" worth seeing.

My intent here is not to review the movie; Adann-Kenn Alexxander does a great job of handling that job for The Valdosta Daily Times. I'm also not solely concerned with praising the Sam Raimi-directed film's technical achievements, although they are plentiful. Watching how seamlessly flesh-and-blood actors carried off action sequences that mesh with computer-generated imagery will make your jaw drop.

What I loved about the film, based on the adventures of the longtime Marvel Comics superhero, is the message it imparts in its own subtle way to audiences. Sure, "Spider-Man 2" is, in the great scheme of things, just another summer blockbuster. But the film strikes a chord.

When was the last time you saw characters honor the idea of following through on responsibilities, even when doing so exacts harsh self-sacrifice? I gazed around me for a moment as the film rolled, hoping the kids of all ages in the audience soaked up the speech Aunt May (Rosemary Harris) delivers to Parker at one point.

A hero, May tells Peter after he's thrown away his role as Spider-Man, is someone who inspires us to hang on in the face of adversity just a little longer. Parker digests his aunt's speech, then lives it out during an epic battle on top of a train with the maniacal Dr. Otto "Doc Ock" Octavius (Alfred Molina).

(By the way, there is one poignant scene in the film I don't want to spoil, but it caused me to think of Sept. 11. Moments after Spider-Man saves a group of fictional New Yorkers, they carry his battered body aloft to safety. If that scene doesn't get you a little misty, I'm sorry your heart is made of stone.)

I've always believed that if someone crafts a work that upholds virtue in an entertaining way, you should praise it.

Add "Spider-Man" to a list of films preceded by "The Lord of the Rings" and "Master and Commander" that ask audiences to consider the importance of honor, responsibility and duty.

Heath Griner is city editor of The Valdosta Daily Times. To contact him, call 244-3400, ext. 274; or email him at

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