Spider-Man 2 is quite simply the best action film of the year. This is a rare example of a sequel that not only surpassing its predecessor but also exceeds every expectation. Spider-Man 2 is a stunning example of how to make a great superhero flick. Without being cheesy (X-Men), dull (Batman & Robin) or almost unbearable (DareDevil), Spider-Man 2 surpasses Tim Burton’s dark vision of the caped crusader in Batman and Batman Returns as comic’s best big-screen adaptation.
Sam Raimi carefully transitions the extensive Spider-Man mythology into an action film with a strong emotional core that pushes the ongoing theme of discovering the person you are meant to become.
Tobey Maguire and Kirsten Dunst ignite the screen with performances that demand attention. Maguire is more comfortable in the instantly recognizable blue and red spandex this time around, continuing to define Spider-Man’s movie persona. Dunst radiates the girl next door vibe that gives her character a warmth that translates past the silver screen.
Peter Parker’s (Maguire) world is falling apart as Mary Jane Watson (Dunst) gets engaged, Aunt May’s (Rosemarry Harris) home is foreclosed, and he’s behind on rent. Making matters worse for the wall-crawler, new supervillain Dr. Octopus (Alfred Molina) is born through a freak science experiment. With four tentacles attached to his spine, the mad doctor engages his quest to create an energy source with power equivalent to that of the sun.
Spider-Man 2’s most memorable scene is Peter’s confession to Aunt May that he’s responsible for the death of her husband and Peter’s uncle, Ben. The scene is so well shot it’s hard not to feel the emotions each character is dealing with. Peter feels guilty for not taking the responsibility when he had a chance to prevent Uncle Ben’s death and the grief Ben’s death has caused his poor aunt. Aunt May is overwhelmed by this unexpected confession and leaves the room in tears. This highlights Raimi’s talent to piece together a scene with the utmost believability.
Screenwriters Alfred Gough, Miles Miller and Michael Chabon craft a powerful conflict that for once isn’t a struggle against a super-human villain, but instead the internal struggle of finding one’s own identity and sacrificing cherished dreams. In Spider-Man 2, Peter, a once stellar, responsible student has lost his job and is failing college, all to save a city that doesn’t seem to care.
Raimi meticulously pieces together a film with a solid storyline, noteworthy performances and special effects that make those of the first film look bargain-bin. Raimi — and a generous $200-million budget — make the flimsy-looking CGI Spider-Man from the previous film appear more realistic while flying across the New York skyline.
Raimi masterfully mixes drama, action and humor seamlessly to deliver this summer’s most satisfying picture. Spider-Man 2 also gives audiences a glimpse of what a comic book flick should be: fun, fast, while boasting an emotionally driven screenplay with a cast of talented actors.
Maguire proves once again that he’s the perfect actor to portray nerdy Peter Parker. He perfectly captures the frustration haunting the reluctant hero and his realization that sometimes one has to desert their dreams for an inescapable destiny.
Mary Jane is given more elaborate scenes than in the previous Spider-Man and Dunst hits the nail on the head. She shines in with lovelorn emotions at the precise moments and takes Mary Jane to the next level.
Molina is pitch-perfect as the sinister Dr. Octopus, out to complete his life’s work and harness the strength of nuclear power. Harry Osbourne (James Franco) finally lands the opportunity for revenge, only to learn that his father’s murderer is also his best friend.
Spider-Man connects with millions because Peter’s just an average Joe living in a run-down motel and struggling to make ends meet. While his contemporaries reside in an upstate Mansion (X-Men), a secluded estate (Batman) or a high-rise apartment (Superman), poor Peter is forced to work meager jobs to sustain his depressing situation. This aspect of the story has attracted a ravenous fanbase that follows the web-slinger’s evolving life religiously and purchases gaggles of products.
Spider-Man 2 has raised the bar that all comic book flicks will be judged by and has already become this year’s best action thrill ride. With all the elements in place, Spider-Man is more than just eye-candy — it’s a beautifully executed story with equal parts action, drama and comedy.