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Dan the Man's Movie Reviews

All my aimless thoughts, ideas, and ramblings, all packed into one site!

Spider-Man 2 (2004)


Just when you thought saving the world from evil, maniacal villains was enough.

Last time we left Peter Parker, he was trying to save the world from the havoc of a super-duper evil villain; win the heart of his lovely neighbor, M.J. (Kirsten Dunst); ace his college courses; still have a roof over his head; and be able to sleep soundly at night, knowing that he’s saved the day. And well, not much of that has changed a bit. Well, maybe instead of having the Green Goblin as a villain, he now has the incredibly smart Dr. Otto Octavius (Alfred Molina), and the four metal arms that control his every action and thought, leading him to want to destroy the world that’s been so crummy to him as is. Or, you know, something like that. Also going on, Peter has a problem with telling his Aunt May (Rosemary Harris) the truth about what happened to their dear old Uncle Ben, on that one, fateful night. And then of course, there’s Harry Osborne (James Franco) who is rich and powerful now, after inheriting the family business from his deceased-father and still having a bit of a problem with Pete and the fact that he takes the man who killed his father’s pictures all of the time.

I’ve seen this movie many quite a couple of times and it hardly ever ceases to amaze me. Of course when I was a lot younger, this was considered “the best movie ever made, by far”, but now that I’m older, and hopefully wiser, it’s stooped-down to being “just as good, if not better than the first”. That’s just what happens with age, though, people. You get older, you learn a lot more and you know what you like, and dislike.

Here though, I like pretty much everything, even if I have seen this movie about ten or more times. That’s not an understatement either; I was brought-up on the Tobey Maguire – Sam Raimi Spider-Man movies, which is why I have such a hard time loving these new ones, as well as being able to hate on the magic these two made in the first place. Sure, they’re definitely a lot goofier and lighter on their feet than what most of us are used to with superhero movies (thanks for that, Chris Nolan), but there’s something about their fun spirit and excitement that’s too hard to hate or ignore. Even when it comes close to running into “campy territory”, there’s still an essence that everybody involved is having a great time making this and for that, my soul just cannot hate any of them.

"Dammit M.J.! I mean, I love you and all, but you got to stop getting captured!"

“Dammit M.J.! I mean, I love you and all, but you got to stop getting captured without wearing a damn bra!”

Even the third one. But that’s a different review, for a different time (aka, tomorrow).

But anyway, like I was saying before, what Sam Raimi does so well here is that he does keep the same frothy, sometimes goofy and joy-free mood and tone of the first one, but ups the intensity of this by adding both bigger, bigger stipulations, but also giving us characters we can care and love a lot more than we did with the first one. It’s not like we didn’t get any character-development in the first Spider-Man movie, but it definitely didn’t go any further than “good guy”, or “bad guy”. Here though, we get characters, in a comic-book movie no less, that also happen to have dimensions and qualities that most human beings contain.

Sounds crazy, right? Well, that’s because it totally is! However, Raimi has just about each and every moment here that’s dedicated to building and making these characters who they are, feel somewhat genuine. He also does something strange for a mainstream, superhero blockbuster in that he lets a lot of scenes where two characters may be having a heart-to-heart or talking about something rather emotional, play-out in total silence, as if he isn’t telling us when the sad moments are coming. We’re just supposed to know what to feel, and cry, shake, tremble, or smile on our demand.

We so rarely see that with superhero movies, but Raimi took a big time risk here, and it paid-off especially well.

Another risk he took was in actually showing us the shitty side of being a superhero. Most of the time, we always see the person in the suit, messing shit up, being a boss, saving the world and getting the girl, the glitz, and the glamour by the end of the day, but what most of us really don’t see is what goes on when that said person gets out of that said costume and becomes what most of us are: Actual humans. Here, with Peter Parker, we get an idea that not only does it suck being depended on just about every second of every day, at every location in the heart of New York City, but that it’s even more of a drag having to deal with all of your other problems when you’re not out saving the world, one criminal at a time.

For Peter Parker, life kind of blows – the girl of his dreams is with some total meat-head, his best-friend doesn’t trust him, he’s not paying his rent, he hasn’t told his Aunt the dreaded secret that may ruin their relationship forever, and he can’t seem to hold down a steady job, or wage. But when he puts that suit on, life is suddenly better, if only by a bit. Still though, it’s apparent that being a superhero, no matter how many people look up to you as a result, it’s still a hard life to live. That’s why when Pete decides that it’s time to take a sabbatical of sorts, we want him to get all of the rest and chillaxing he can get; but also, not to wait too long either. Because, let’s face it, he’s Spider-Man and he’s a pretty awesome superhero when he’s kicking all sorts of butt.

And kicking all sorts of butt is what Sam Raimi allows for Spidey to do, more times than he did in the original. Though there is plenty of dramatic moments here where it’s just a couple of characters or two just sitting around and talking, Raimi still never forgets about the action, which features some of the most memorable brawls of recent-memory. That bank-robbery that turns into a fight on top of a skyscraper? Damn! The train-battle? Gosh! The moment Octavius becomes “Doc Ock”? Well, yeah, it’s pretty disturbing, even for a PG-13 superhero movie, but man, it was awesome!

In other words, Raimi gives us all the goods an average, everyday moviegoer could want, especially if they were coming to see a Spider-Man movie.

And of course, the cast is great too, with a few even putting in their best work of the whole franchise. Tobey Maguire may get a lot of crap for being the good-looking nerd everyone aspires to be (myself included), but it’s totally undeserved because the kid can act and handles his own as Spider-Man, and most importantly as Peter Parker. In fact, if Maguire wasn’t putting in great work here, this movie probably would have failed considering mostly all of it is focused in on Peter Parker, the person, rather than Spider-Man, the superhero the person becomes. Maguire may get a bit too earnest for his own good at times, but it’s easily forgivable since he’s just so likable and easy-to-root-for, because you know that while he wants to be at his girl’s play more than anything else in the world, he’s got a world to save and maintain peace within. If that doesn’t sound like a total dream-boat, I have no clue what does.

Ladies, we know the sex with him would be awesome. Let's just keep our heads out of the gutter for the meantime.

Ladies, we know the sex with him would be awesome. Let’s just keep our heads out of the gutter for the meantime.

Speaking of “his girl”, Kirsten Dunst is another who seems to get a lot of crap from those who think she can’t act, and I think that’s terribly wrong. For starters, she totally can and as she’s gotten older, she’s only been able to prove that moreso, time and time again. However, back in those good old days of the early-21st Century, I could see why some people got on her case as M.J. definitely isn’t the best-developed or most believable character out of the whole bunch, but at least Dunst seems like she knows what she’s doing when she’s delivering some of the cheesy-lines to be heard here. Same goes for James Franco as Harry Osborne, another one not many knew what to make of back in the day, but clearly has made a huge name for himself by just being him.

God, how time has changed.

With the absence of Willem Dafoe as the main baddie, we get Alfred Molina as Dr. Otto Octavius and the guy’s very good, as many could probably predict seeing as how Molina’s been a stand-out actor, putting in great work, time and time again. With Octavius though, Molina not only gets to show a human-side to a person who could be seen as a total monster, but even makes us see those small spots of humanity, even while his mind is practically being taken over by the evil chip in his brain. Though he’s clearly not as hammy as Dafoe was (therefore, eliminating some of the fun), Molina still feels like a real person who has been utterly driven to do bad things, for bad reasons and under extreme circumstances. Sort of like how Sam Raimi must have felt doing the third movie.

But like I said: Different review, for a different day, folks. Just you all wait.

Consensus: With a perfect mixture of heart, humor, action, excitement, and fun, Spider-Man 2 will go down in the books as one of the best superhero sequels of all-time because it never forgets what makes its story kick as well as it does, while also not forgetting to give the audience the high-flying, ass-kicking action they come to expect with a product like this.

9 / 10 = Full Price!!

How could you hate that heart-throb? I mean, heck, it's a freakin' subway he's holding back!

How could you hate that heart-throb? I mean, heck, it’s a freakin’ subway he’s holding back!

Photo’s Credit to: IMDBColliderJobloComingSoon.net

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24 responses to “Spider-Man 2 (2004)

  1. Mr. Movie April 30, 2014 at 5:03 am

    I saw ‘The Amazing Spider-Man 2′ a couple of weeks ago and I’m afraid to say that it doesn’t truly reach the heights of Raimi’s films!

  2. ninvoid99 April 30, 2014 at 5:03 am

    I still think this is the best Spider-Man film. I have no interesting in seeing the new one.

  3. Joseph@thecinemamonster April 30, 2014 at 5:43 am

    Without question the best “Spider Man” film ever made and definitely one if the better Marvel universe flicks! Excellent post :).

  4. Writer Loves Movies April 30, 2014 at 7:07 am

    I much prefer the cast in the recent reboot but Raimi’s sequel has a lot of spark where the action and bad guys are concerned!

  5. thomasjford April 30, 2014 at 7:42 am

    This might be, other than Batman, the last superhero movie I actually enjoyed. Good review Dan.

  6. James the Movie Reviewer April 30, 2014 at 10:21 am

    Very good review Dan! I am glad to see that you a positive review. The amount of hate Raimi’s Spider-Man movies get sometimes is mind boggling, because Spider-Man 2 is a classic. I still rank it higher than any Batman film, although that is an unpopular opinion.

    -James

  7. mikeladano April 30, 2014 at 11:09 am

    Just saw this again on the weekend. I really liked it as always — probably the best of the 3.

  8. Tim The Film Guy April 30, 2014 at 11:23 am

    Easily one of the best superhero films :D

  9. beckybeckyb April 30, 2014 at 11:59 am

    Like quite a few of the superhero movies, the second one is easily the best (X2, The Dark Knight… high expectations for Avengers 2!) – I love Raimi’s classic humour-horror combo here. That Doc Ock sequence is terrifying! Good movie, good review.

  10. MovieManJackson April 30, 2014 at 12:46 pm

    Saw some of this last night on TV. It is still pretty enjoyable but doesn’t hold up as well from my childhood (of course!). And at times, it is a bit cringeworthy between the campy/cheesy elements and the chemistry between MJ and Peter. But for that hour I watched, I was engaged. Almost forgot there was an NBA playoff game on! Great review.

  11. abstracticality April 30, 2014 at 2:29 pm

    This really makes me want to watch this movie again. Great movie and a good review.

  12. Rachel April 30, 2014 at 2:32 pm

    Probably one of the best superhero films of all time. I really like how you mentioned that the characters are realistic, it never occurred to me like that.

  13. Zoë April 30, 2014 at 3:14 pm

    Excellent review here Dan! I will watch the Raimi films again one of these days (seeing as I have just watched the two new ones) and see. I enjoyed them as a kid, and would like to see how they compare now again. But I am sorry, I am not a fan of Dunst at all.

  14. butterflymumma April 30, 2014 at 3:48 pm

    My kids love this movie and return to it at every new age and stage, especially my son. Guess they agree with you ;)

  15. Chris April 30, 2014 at 4:17 pm

    Nice review, Dan. Definitely a good movie. We’ll see if this new part 2 will be able to hold a candle to it. ;)

  16. CinemaClown April 30, 2014 at 6:15 pm

    Now this is actually The Real Amazing Spider-Man film. Great review as usual, Dan.

  17. Jackie April 30, 2014 at 10:24 pm

    Although a future part of my favorite movie ranking says differently, I do prefer the second movie to the first. The origin story was great for sure and seeing it theaters was one of those amazing cinematic experiences I’ll always remember (the first superhero movie I saw in theaters).
    But everything about this movie, it’s just awesome. Great cast, great story that really went into the character development and it’s pretty cool that we have a villain that didn’t start out that way and winds up redeeming himself in the end. Something I felt was a rarity in these types of movies 8-) but thought was a really nice touch.

  18. whitdenton98 April 30, 2014 at 10:47 pm

    Remember seeing this in theaters when it came out and liking it. I think it’s time for a revisit. Awesome review Dan!

  19. stephen1001 May 1, 2014 at 2:18 am

    The 9/10 rating is spot on!

  20. Wendell May 1, 2014 at 3:40 am

    This is easily best of all the Spidey films (haven’t seen TAS2, yet). My biggest quibble with this movie is not Dunst, but James Franco. I just think he sucks in all three movies. Molina was great, btw. Great review!

  21. Three Rows Back May 1, 2014 at 9:41 pm

    Ab-so-bloomin-lutely my friend. Top work.

  22. Ben May 23, 2014 at 4:14 pm

    This still stands as one of my favourite superhero movies! I loved the train scene and Alfred Molina is cast perfectly. I was desperate to see Spidey 3, the moment this movie ended.

  23. petrescucosmin August 27, 2014 at 6:25 pm

    Two years on from defeating the Green Goblin, Peter Parker is having a harder time meeting the ongoing expectations of the public. On top of this the double life is taking its strain on his job, his personal life and his ability to even cast webs. Parker decides enough is enough and throws it all in – after all, he is only one man. Meanwhile, A brilliant scientist, Dr Octavius sees his life’s work on a fusion reactor explode – killing his wife. Wife the protective device on his computerised arms broken, Dr Octavius loses his grip on sanity and starts to rebuild his reactor using money and materials from crime. With him seemingly intent on destruction, Parker must decide if the needs of others outweigh his own.

    With many blockbusters falling at the opening weekend this summer, the title of ‘summer’s best’ was still up for grabs when I arrived at the cinema to watch Spiderman 2 (having only the week earlier given it the miss in favour of lighter fare). Two hours later I emerged having enjoyed one of the most entertaining popcorn films I’ll probably see all year. The plot is more than able to fill the running time and, although the action scenes often have large gaps between them, there are no moments where I was bored – even if there are a few moments where the film slightly slows. The complexity of the hero is the main thing – he is an unwilling hero and the strain shows well on him. Even the potentially ponderous thread with Mary-Jane plays pretty well for the most part.

    The villain of the piece is similar to the Green Goblin of the first film in that he is a scientist driven to madness by ‘voices’ who we want to lose as well as feeling for – more tragic than evil. Where Dafoe was great as the Goblin, the silly costume hindered the actor, here Molina has no such obstacle and does very well – carrying off the ‘voices’ scene without it looking silly – it is only a shame that he has so little screen time as a person (he has little time anyway – but the vast majority of it is throwing cars around). With these complex people as the fronts it is any wonder that the script has no problem being surprisingly strong for a summer action movie. You could read meaning into most of it but it is hard to not see the New York people on the train carrying the prone body of Spiderman backwards as having a bigger significance – a surprisingly poignant movie after a big effects-driven scene. The script also throws in a real mix of emotions – perfect for a film that is more about being an exciting ride than a piece of art. Plenty of it is very funny, some of it is touching, some of it is about character and some of it, well, some of it is about cars being thrown through windows! And of course the latter is what we have come for.

    In terms of action, the several big action sequences are very enjoyable and put the skirmishes from the first movie very much in the shade. Part of this is down to the increased intensity of the fights due to the close combat nature of the character but it is hard not to be impressed by the impact of the vastly improved effects. In the first movie I struggled occasionally to get past the fact that some of it (not all but some) looked very much like an average playstation game. Here the effects are great; sure, you can still tell when a mid-shot of a character is real or CGI but they are much more convincing and they are used a lot better – making it easier to accept them as real for the purposes of the film. Of course what really makes the action sequences is Raimi’s great direction. He is very able in the smaller moments but he is fantastic in the massive action scenes that he pulls together. At times his direction is very clever and my favourite ‘reference’ scene is also the one that surprised me that it was rated PG. In a very clear reference to Evil Dead, doctors are hammered by Dr Octopus’ arms for the first time – dragged screaming (ED’s trees) and tackling it with bone saws (Ash’s chain saw). It was a very intense scene and, with it being in a PG, it acts as proof that the BBFC are not as strict as the moaners would have us believe.

    Working with this direction, the cast all do really well. Maguire takes the pratfalls, the moral questions, the romance and the action equally as well. He is very much the likable everyman that the film needs Spiderman to be and he is good throughout. Dunst has talked about her desire to do more than just this type of film and, from this, I can see why. Although she has some good scenes, generally she is sidelined and it is to her credit that she does as well as she does with comparatively little to work with. Molina is given too little time and lacks a really strong scene of emotion in the same way that Dafoe did in front of the mirror but he still does well. I didn’t feel his pain as much as I really should have done but that was more down to his low screen time rather than his performance. Franco is good but a bit too one-dimensional; given that the third film will be very dependent on him I’m hoping he can step up to the plate more than he did here. Of the support cast, once again it is a wonderfully OTT Simmons who steals every scene he is in – he is so good that I never once saw him as his Oz character – an association I never thought he’d be able to break but he did – and he did it hilariously. Cameos from Campbell, Raimi and Dafoe are all enjoyable and add to their scenes.

    Overall this is not a perfect film and I am bemused by its appearance in the top 250 list here but it does basically everything it sets out to do and does it in a manner that puts this years’ other blockbusters in the shade. The script is clever, interesting and involving; the characters are complex and pretty well drawn while the film delivers laughs as frequently as it does action. With improved effects and some very impressive action scenes this is definitely the movie to sue in a summer full of misses and average thrills.

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