Alfred Molina makes a more baroque supervillain than Willem Dafoe's Green Goblin, but the other stars seem happy to be giving us more of the same. Sam Raimi's direction, on the other hand, is even more fluent and well paced.
This triumphant sequel to the hard-to-top 2002 original may be the first great comic-book movie in the age of self-help and CGI wizardry, an entertainment in which both the thrills and the therapeutic personal growth are well earned.
Until it develops a bad case of verbosity toward the end, it improves upon its predecessor in almost every way, delivering flashier thrills while digging deeper into its characters and adding an overlay of wit.
Spider-Man 2 is full of bright colors, emphatic noises and elaborate special effects. That much is to be expected. But its distinguishing features, I'm happy to report, are strong characters and honest feelings.