Spider-Man 2 (2004)
Directed by: Sam Raimi
Premise: Spider-Man 2 picks up where the original film left off, with Peter Parker, played by Tobey Maguire, trying to balance his personal life with his identity as Spider-Man.
What Works: The relationships and conflicts that were left unresolved at the conclusion of the previous film become the dramatic thrust of Spider-Man 2 and it is obvious that the filmmakers put effort into making the interpersonal relationships work. This strengthens the film and gives it a human touch, especially in Parker’s conflict between his desires and responsibility. Another aspect in which this film surpasses the original is in its lead villain. Where the Green Goblin was rather hokey and delivered some cheese-filled lines in the first picture, Doctor Octavious (Alfred Molina) is a much more human and much more interesting villain. The special effects in this film also take a step up. In the original picture, some of the computer work was a bit sloppy, but in this film the computer-generated Spider-Man has a harder, more textured, and better integrated look.
What Doesn’t: As in the first film, the screenplay sometimes cheapens Parker’s dilemma in the end by letting him have his cake and eat it too. I am not a happy ending grinch, but this film has set up its narrative tension based on the dilemma that if Parker fulfills his desires to be with Mary Jane (Kirsten Dunst) it will have consequences for the two of them. Spider-Man 2 faces a problem when our hero suddenly has his desire fulfilled without consequence. But perhaps that will be the plot of Spider-Man 3.
Bottom Line: Overall, Spider-Man 2 is an enjoyable popcorn ride that will satisfy fans of the original but should also appeal to those who don’t normally go to comic book films.
Episode: #9 (July 11, 2004)