Posted on 8/13/11 02:54 PM
On a worldwide basis, Spiderman 2 is the lowest grossing of the Spiderman films. That's ironic, as in my opinion it is the best out of all 3 of the Spiderman films and one of the best superhero movies ever.
The film picks off sometime after the original. Peter Parker is struggling having to balance between his life as a normal college student and as the web swinging Spiderman. His grades are falling back, he's struggling to pay his rent, he's getting fired from part time jobs, and he's unable to spend much time with Mary Jane which is putting a stress on their relationship to the point where she becomes engaged to someone else. Harry Osborn, meanwhile, is spending endless nights searching for Spiderman and since Peter is the one who's always taking pictures of Spiderman he's angry at Peter becasue he feels he's still being friends with Spiderman. As Peter's frustration at leading a double life grows, he begins to hate the powers he was given, causing him to start to lose them, and making him seriously consider giving up being Spiderman, which is bad news for the city, as a scientist named Doctor Octavius, whom Peter admires, tries an experiment that goes horribly wrong, turning him into the menacing Doctor Octopus (or Doc Ock for short)
Spiderman 2 is the perfect example of a succesful sequel. It takes everything the worked for the original and builds upon it. The characters are more fleshed out, the pacing is quicker, and the drama is even better than the first. This is one of those rare superhero movies where I was more interested in the scenes with Peter Parker than the ones with Spiderman.
And that's not to say the scenes with Spiderman are weak. On the contrary, this film has some of the best action sequences for a superhero movie. The battles between Spiderman and Doctor Octopus are fast, thrilling, and easy to follow, unlike all those Shaky-Cam action film where you can't tell what's going on.
The drama, however, is simply better. The story is a simple one of a hero struggling to balance his life as a crime fighter and a normal civilain, and yet it is told to almost perfection. In lesser hands, there are a lot of scenes that could have killed the movie, and yet director Saimi Raimi handles them so well and with such heart that these scenes end up ranging from you-can't-help-but-smile (like the "rain drops are falling on my head" sequence) to downright touching (the train scene) Even little bits like the lady on the street singing songs about Spiderman over the course of the film manage to add a certain charm to it.
Not only that, but this film features the greatest romance I've ever seen in a superhero movie. A lot of times, the romance feels unimportant to the film, sometimes even hindering it. Here, the romance between Mary Jane and Peter Parker is the heart of the film. Rarely have I rooted for the main character to get the girl the way I did for this film, and the final scene was so moving that it left me with a big smile on my face.
The climax of the film is another thing worth noting. I had enjoyed the film so much for the first hour and a half that even if the climax had just been an average superhero versus villain I still would have really liked the film. However, Raimi makes sure the climax is not the least bit underwhelming compared to the rest of the film, making sure that there still remains a strong sense of drama behind the action, while also giving also giving us some truly unexpected momments where he shows he's not afraid to move the story forward instead of making it just another villain of the week (spoilers: after watching so many animated series where the creators go out of their way to make sure the love interest never finds out about the secret identity of the superhero, I was totally surpised when Peter turns around with his mask off and sees Mary Jane watching him. It truly is the highlight of what was already an incredible movie)
As I already mentioned in the review of the first film, the cast is great, so there's little need to go over all of them once again, but I will say that this film proves that a good Peter Parker is far better than a good Spiderman. Who cares that Tobey Maguire can't deliver the sarcastic lines of Spiderman when he practically brings tears to your eyes when he confuses to his Aunt May what happened the night Ben died? Also, Alfred Molina is a great addition to the cast. He manages to be so warm and understanding as Doctor Octavius and yet so cold and menacing as Doc Ock.
Speaking of Doc Ock, he still remains my favourite villain in the Spiderman trilogy, not only thanks to the preformance of Alfred Molina, but also to the outstanding special effects used to create his mechanical arms. I mentioned that the CGI used in the original Spiderman was a little too cartoony and was one of the weaker aspects in the film. Here, the film's oscar for Best Visual Effects was well deserved. The arms of Doctor Ock react so believably with the enviroment around them that it's hard to believe they're CGI.
Spiderman 2 was and still remains to this day my favourite Marvel film. It's also my third favourite superhero film ever after The Dark Knight and Batman Begins, though comparisons are a little difficult, as while those films were great because they revolutionized the superhero genre, Spiderman 2 is great because it's everything you'd expect a superhero film to be. It manages to balance great drama with thrilling action, while delivering humour, romance, and a fair share of tearjerking moments.