Time: 127 Minutes
Tobey Maguire as Peter Parker/Spider-Man
Kirsten Dunst as Mary Jane Watson
James Franco as Harry Osborn
Alfred Molina as Dr. Otto Octavius/Doctor Octopus/Doc Ock
Rosemary Harris as May Parker
Donna Murphy as Rosalie Octavius
Director: Sam Rami
When a failed nuclear fusion experiment results in an explosion that kills his wife, Dr. Otto Octavius (Alfred Molina) is transformed into Dr. Octopus, a cyborg with deadly metal tentacles. Doc Ock blames Spider-Man (Tobey Maguire) for the accident and seeks revenge. Meanwhile, Spidey’s alter ego, Peter Parker, faces fading powers and self-doubt. Complicating matters are his best friend’s (James Franco) hatred for Spider-Man and his true love’s (Kirsten Dunst) sudden engagement to another man.
Sam Rami’s Spider-Man impacted the comic book genre in such an immense way. Looking back at it now, some of it holds up, some of it doesn’t, but its enjoyable overall. While Spider-Man was a good movie, Spider-man 2 is a great movie. Spider-Man 2 improves in every way over Spiderman 1, better villain, better special effects, better story, better character development, better everything really. Out of the trilogy, this was the one time I felt Rami balanced all the elements well, and made it the best Spider-Man movie yet.
The pacing of the movie is a lot steadier than in Spider-Man 1. Peter does have a strong arc, with him questioning whether he should continue being Spider-Man, and him trying to deal with the pressures of living both as Peter Parker and Spider-Man (this was in the first movie, but it’s explored a lot more in the sequel). This movie has quite a lot going on. I found myself a lot more invested in this movie and its characters, particularly Peter and Dr Ock). I didn’t really mention the humour in my review of the first movie, but it was pretty much cheesy humour (though a lot of it is quite funny). Here it’s legitimately funny, with some quirky humour appropriately thrown in. The tone in 2 is more serious than the first movie, but it does have some funny moments, for example there is a montage set to the tune of “Raindrops keep falling on my head”. But I do appreciate the change in tone, I could take everything a lot more seriously.
Once again I really liked Tobey Maguire as Spider-Man. As I said earlier, he has a strong arc here, an arc which involves a lot of internal conflict. Maguire in the first movie was a little too quirky and geeky, and I wasn’t invested in him. Here though, I actually cared about what Peter was going through, and Tobey did a very good job. Alfred Molina is Doc Ock, the villain of the movie, and he is hands down the best Spider-Man movie villain. He is given some form of complexity, he is a human being. The film doesn’t always handle him the best, as some of his more villainous actions like attempting to crash a train and the way he acted at times really didn’t quite fall in line with his character. He is a little goofy and over the top at times, but it didn’t really bother me (like what happened with Green Goblin in the first movie), he was really entertaining, but sympathetic at the same time. The supporting actors/characters are also a lot better than in the first movie. While I still don’t like Mary Jane and don’t think the romance between her and Peter is done well, Kirsten Dunst does have a lot more to work with, and she once again she does the best she can to make Mary Jane as 3 dimensional a character as possible. With that said, Mary Jane is still a 2 dimensional character, not really that interesting and is just another comic book movie girlfriend. James Franco is great here, in the first movie he really didn’t do much asides from being Peter’s friend, but here he does have a lot more to do, with Harry Osborn looking to get revenge on Spider-Man. J.K. Simmons is also effortlessly entertaining as J. Jonah Jameson, he gets a lot more scenes and he steals every single one of these scenes. And there’s another Bruce Campbell cameo, which is always nice.
Spider-Man 2 is a technical improvement over the original film. The CGI isn’t quite up to today’s standards but its still really good. The action is so great. While the first movie was good, the action really wasn’t that great, aside from the last action scene. Spider-Man 2’s action is a significant improvement over the first movie. There are so many great action sequences. There’s also a horror like scene with Doc Ock. The highlight however was an action sequence between Spider-Man and Doc Ock on a train, definitely one of the best comic book movie action sequences. The soundtrack by Danny Elfman, like from the first movie, is really good.
Spider-Man 2 is the best Spider-Man movie we have got yet. Most of the Spider-Man movies are good but flawed, Spiderman 2 is the only Spider-Man movie that I would call great. All the elements of the movie, the story, the acting, the action, everything about it really worked to result in a well-balanced, investing, deep comic book movie, which is endlessly entertaining. It is probably one of the best comic book movies ever made. Definitely a classic.