Directed by Sam Raimi, starring Tobey Maguire, Kirsten Dunst, James Franco, Alfred Molina, Rosemary Harris and JK Simmons.
The web has once again been spun, but this time director Sam Raimi has made sure that you will get tangled up in it, with Spider-Man's second big screen adventure compensating for everything that the first one lacked.
Despite Raimi's obvious understanding of and connection with the comic book, the tameness of Spider-Man's first movie outing marred all the aspects of the superhero that should dazzle on screen. Lacking in enthralling action sequences, as well as the fireworks of passion that should have erupted between the two protagonists, something about 'Spider-Man' left you feeling very vacant. But here Raimi has securely covered over all these pitfalls.
This time the novelty of being gifted has worn off for Peter Parker (Maguire) and the ordinary guy turned superhero is carrying the weight of the world on his shoulders, to the detriment of his crime-fighting capers. Slowly crushing and alienating everyone who is close to him, Peter finds himself very alone in the world, so much so that doing the right thing no longer seems rewarding. Struggling to keep up with his college work and trying to please everyone except himself is taking its toll.
And then there's Mary Jane Watson (Dunst), his one true love whose absence leaves a gaping hole in his heart. And in the sequel this unspoken relationship is handled much more delicately, as Peter realises that he cannot have everything. "With me she is always in danger from those who fight against me. Without her, I travel a lonely road." Essentially that is what this movie comes down to – a boy and a girl. And although the myriad of storylines and subplots are captivating, it is the simplicity of Peter's dilemma that shines through, with Maguire excelling as the ordinary guy who magnetically connects with the audience.
As a superhero needs a nemesis, Spider-Man finds a new arch-enemy in Dr Otto Octavius (Molina), brilliant scientist turned possessed monster, wielding mechanical arms. Intent on destruction at every turn, Doc Ock seems unstoppable. And what makes him a more challenging foe for Spider-Man is the fact that Peter Parker idolised this man, only to see an evil force consume a once brilliant individual. It is at this point that Peter realises the true extent of the dark side of the world and his evolution here really draws you into the film.
As he toys with the idea of abandoning his responsibility to the public and pines for the now engaged Mary Jane, we see a human being - no webs, no strings attached. And it is this vulnerability that endears his dual-personality character to us. Delving further into the Peter Parker side to the character has been a definite plus for director Raimi. With Peter embracing the weaknesses of humanity in a way that his alter-ego cannot, we get to see the full picture this time around.
As with its predecessor, the sequel is all about tough decisions for Spider-Man and when Doc Ock goes on a rampage, it is inevitably someone close to Peter that he targets, forcing him to once again make the choice between the greater good of humanity and his own happiness. His clash with best friend Harry Osborn (Franco) also escalates as Harry begs Peter to lead him to the superhero, so that he can avenge his father's death.
The action sequences and special effects in 'Spider-Man 2' make the first movie pale in comparison. Realistic hardly seems the right word to use when talking about a bug-man scaling walls and swooping over the city on his man-made webs, but it's certainly more impressive, seamless even. The beautiful comic strip montage that recaps on the first outing is a wonderful introduction to what is a superb summer blockbuster. Loaded with comedy and bursting with action, original creators Stan Lee and Steve Ditko must feel very proud to see what the fruits of their labour have inspired.