The original Spider-man was a good film -- in fact, it probably was the best movie to come out of the recent comic book craze in the film industry. That, of course, should stand as a testament to how great Spider-man 2 is since it blows the original out of the water. Spider-man 2 is not only the best comic book film, but it will go down as one of the best films of 2004 and one of the best summer blockbusters ever.
Tobey Maguire is back as the wall crawler, as is his buddy Harry (James Franco) and his love interest MJ (Kirsten Dunst). This time around, though, Spider-man must defeat Doc Ock (Alfred Molina), a scientist who must live with intelligent tentacles after a fusion experiment goes awry.
Spider-man 2 doesn't reinvent the wheel. Frequently, Raimi will acknowledge the first film's plot with a joke, but essentially Sam takes the first film and nearly perfects what it set out to accomplish. The original film was a bit too colorful and tried too hard to maintain its comic book roots. In the sequel, Raimi strikes the perfect balance between the real New York and comic book New York -- even if the Elevated Train scene was shot in Chicago.
Much like X2, Raimi ratchets up the intensity and importance of the story in this sequel. Early on, it seems as if Peter Parker and Mary Jane will play out the same "Will they or won't they?" scenario that never gets decided, but Raimi puts an end to that, while also continuing the story arcs of other important characters, like Franco's Harry and J.K. Simmons' J. Jonah Jameson.
Still, the masses will flock to see the Web Slinger. Spider-man doesn't have as much screen time this time around -- especially in the first half of the film -- yet it's not disappointing. The sequel is just as concerned with Peter and Parker and his life as it is with Spider-man's duels with crooks and Doc Ock. Despite featuring less action, Spider-man 2 is a better action film than the original. The action is sharper, the intensity is higher, and the special effects are much more consistent in the sequel than in the original. Much of the credit goes to Alfred Molina's Doc Ock, a character that is much more fluid and restrained than Willem Dafoe's cackling, metallic Green Goblin.
This attention to detail is what makes the sequel and original such great movies. Raimi and his cast aren't interested in blowing everything on one film. At this point, it would take a lot of bad work -- as well as Spider nipples -- to send this film into the dumps with the Batman series. Even if the main players aren't involved in future Spider-man films, they have left their successors with a rich storyline and deep, true characters.
For once, moviegoers have a summer blockbuster that does not only set high expectations, but meets them as well.