Peter Parker (Tobey Maguire) is having difficulties balancing his life as Spider-Man with his life as Peter Parker. Meanwhile, Dr. Otto Octavius (Alfred Molina) is tasked by Harry Osborn (James Franco) to hunt Spider-Man for revenge for his father’s death.
After the success of Spider-Man, Sony didn’t waste any time getting into Spider-Man 2. As with X2, since the character introductions were out of the way, the film had the room to just jump right into the story. No need to set up the characters and no need to give exposition. Spider-Man 2 takes the best of its predecessor and makes it even better.
As I said in my review of Spider-Man, one of Peter Parker’s defining characteristics in the comics is his attempt to balance his duties as the wall crawler with his desire to maintain a personal life. This film showed Peter’s struggle to balance his two lives better than any Spider-Man movie before or since. It deeply explores what being Spider-Man means for Peter and the sacrifices he has to make to uphold his responsibilities. Not many other superhero movies truly explore what being a superhero means and its costs the way Spider-Man 2 does. To me, that is one of the many reasons that this is not only one of the best Spider-Man films but one of the best films in the genre.
Otto Octavius, aka Doctor Octopus, is a terrific followup to Green Goblin. He is another one of Spider-Man’s biggest rogues, maybe even surpassing Green Goblin over the last several years. Alfred Molina played Otto wonderfully. Spider-Man’s best villains are the ones with tragic backgrounds. Otto doesn’t want to be the villain and actually has a noble heart, looking to use his brilliance to create for the benefit of mankind. After losing his wife and being bound to his mechanical arms in an accident, he goes crazy when the AI from his arms negatively influence his mind. Whether it is the innocent and cheerful Otto or the more sinister and villainous Doc Ock, Molina is brilliant. His acting elevates what is already a well-written character. Watching this and Spider-Man after the Batman movies of the 90s, I began noticing that when superhero films have only a single villain, it (usually) creates both an improved story and better villain.
Director Sam Raimi has a history in horror, so his pick to direct this action-oriented superhero series might have seemed like a strange choice (one that he has managed to prove was the right one). Throughout the film, Raimi had the chance to flex some of his horror roots. Several scenes contain sequences similar to something you might find in a horror film rather than a superhero one. The scene with where the doctors try to remove the metal arms after they fused with Otto in particular stands out as one where you can feel Raimi’s previous horror experience. It’s exciting to see him bring his own personal touch from other genres into this film.
When your hero can jump around doing all kind of aerial acrobatics and your villain has mechanical arms fused to his body, there’s going to be CGI in some capacity. However, where possible, this film uses practical effects. And it makes all the difference. Especially in the early 2000s, when films where just beginning to utilize the technology much more after the Star Wars prequels used it so prominently, it can not look the cleanest. So by using practical effects at every opportunity, the movie looks so much better and not nearly as fake as it could be for a film about superheroes.
I thought Spider-Man 2 was GREAT 😀 I wish I had a higher ranking than great because this movie is more than great. It’s fantastic, it’s spectacular, it’s amazing, it’s perfect. Not only is this one of my favorite superhero films but it is up there as one of my favorite films of all time.
Betty Brant: Boss, your wife’s on the line, she said she lost her checkbook.
J. Jonah Jameson: Thanks for the good news!
Cast & Crew
Sam Raimi – Director
Alfred Gough – Story
Miles Miller – Story
Michael Chabon – Story
Alvin Sargent – Screenplay
Danny Elfman – Composer
Tobey Maguire – Spider-Man / Peter Parker
Kirsten Dunst – Mary Jane Watson
James Franco – Harry Osborn
Alfred Molina – Doc Ock / Dr. Otto Octavius
Rosemary Harris – May Parker
JK Simmons – J. Jonah Jameson
Donna Murphy – Rosalie Octavius
Daniel Gillies – John Jameson
Dylan baker – Dr. Curt Connors
Bill Nunn – Joseph ‘Robbie’ Robertson
Ted Raimi – Hoffman
Elizabeth Banks – Betty Brant
Elya Baskin – Mr. Ditkovich
Megeina Tovah – Ursula
Bruce Campbell – Snooty Usher