It doesn’t happen often, but I do love it when a sequel is better than the original. I remember seeing the trailers for this movie and was immediately excited to seeSo no it because Doctor Octopus was always my favorite Spider-Man villain. To me, he had a lot of different aspects to his character; being a brilliant scientist and planning things out, while also reverting to a more thuggish approach at times and simply using brute force to achieve his goals. So I went into this movie hoping that they would do the character justice and I have to admit, Spider-Man 2 did not disappoint me.
The plot: It’s been 2 years since Peter Parker became Spider-Man and he is struggling to make ends meet with his life, losing his job and falling behind in his classes. Heading to his Aunt May’s house, Peter is surprised to see Harry and MJ there as May planned a surprise birthday party. As MJ helps May with the cake, Harry comments about how she still seems to love Peter, despite Peter saying he doesn’t have time for a girlfriend right now. Harry then comments about Peter taking pictures of Spider-Man, which is putting a strain on his friendship with Peter as Harry still blames Spider-Man for his father’s death, before inviting Peter to meet Otto Octavius, who is working for Oscorp now. After the party, Peter tries talking to Aunt May about her finances but she dodges the questions and goes to give him some money for his birthday, arguing with him that he needs it more. As Peter takes out the trash before leaving, he finds MJ sitting out back in her parent’s house and they talk for a few minutes, with MJ telling him that she is seeing someone now. The next day, Harry introduces Peter to Octavius, who is working on creating a sustainable source of fusion power, and Peter and Octavius appear to hit it off, spending an hour discussing the project and science in general. Peter has his concerns about the projects safety but Octavius assures him it will be fine and his wife Rosalie invites Peter to the demonstration to see for himself. That night, Peter goes to see MJ’s play but when, as Spider-Man, he is forced to stop a car chase, he ends up being late for the play and unable to get in. As he waits outside to try and talk to her after the play, he sees her kissing her boyfriend and leaves when he notices several police cars going by with their sirens on. As he is swinging through the air, he suddenly is unable to form a web and ends up falling onto a nearby rooftop and after recovering, he still can’t shoot a web so he ends up taking the elevator downstairs and walking home. The next day, Octavius gives his demonstration, revealing the mechanical arms that he will be using to help with the experiment. When a magnetic surge destabilizes the experiment, Peter quickly changes into Spider-Man and rescues Harry before trying to unplug the device. Octavius sees Spider-Man and uses the arms to swat him away, trying his best to regain control of the experiment, but another surge causes the nearby windows to explode and Rasalie is killed by the shards. When Octavius turns to look at her, another surge hits him and fries the inhibitor chip that keeps the arm’s AI from leaking into his own brain before Spider-Man is finally able to unplug the device and shut down the experiment. Octavius is taken to the hospital, where the doctors try to remove the arms and harness from him as they have been fused to his spine, but the arms come alive on their own and proceed to kill all of the doctors. The arms then help rouse Octavius, who cries out in grief and breaks out of the hospital and heads down to the docks. While there, he realizes that arms have gained sentience and that they are talking to him, convincing him to rebuild the device and he refuses at first but soon agrees with them. The next day, Peter and Aunt May are in the bank to try and refinance her home loan when Octavius attempts to rob the bank. Peter changes into Spider-Man and tries fighting him off but his powers start to fail again and Octavius is able to escape, taking Aunt May as a hostage. Spider-Man chases after him and continues fighting while trying to save Aunt May and he finally is able to do so while Octavius is able to get away. That night, Peter is working for the Bugle as a society photographer at an event honoring Jameson’s son John and he learns that John is MJ’s boyfriend. When Peter gets a moment to talk to MJ alone, she tells him that she can’t keep hoping something will happen between them and comments about how her friend who said he would always be there for her is never there. As the party continues, John announces that MJ agreed to marry him and Peter is forced to take a picture of the couple, then is confronted by a drunken Harry, who blames Peter for taking everything from him while covering for Spider-Man’s part in his father’s death. As Peter is swinging through the streets, his powers disappear again and he falls to the street. After seeing a doctor, who says there is nothing physically wrong with Peter and it might just be in his head, Peter decides to give up being Spider-Man, throwing his costume in the dumpster where he had last fallen. With the pressure of being Spider-Man no longer there, Peter is able to refocus in school and shows up to MJ’s play, surprising her. After the play, the two walk and Peter asks her to dinner but MJ says that she is with John and it isn’t fair for Peter to think things will change just because he showed up at her play. As Peter continues his life of not being Spider-Man, he is constantly forced to choose not to help people, such as walking away when he sees someone being mugged. After going with Aunt May to Uncle Ben’s grave, Peter is sitting with her at her home and tells her the truth about what happened to Ben, and how he let the robber that killed him go by without trying to stop him and the guilt he has been carrying ever since, causing Aunt May to walk away as she accepts with what he told her. Meanwhile, Octavius finishes construction of his device and goes to see Harry about getting the fuel needed for it and Harry agrees to give it to him in exchange for Octavius bringing Spider-Man to him so he can kill him. Elsewhere, Peter sees a burning building and starts to walk by but when he hears that a kid is trapped inside, he goes in to try and save her. Peter manages to rescue the little girl but nearly dies in the process and when he learns that someone else had been trapped and died in the blaze, he starts questioning whether he made the right choice. Peter gets a message from Aunt May and when he heads over there, finds her packing her things, saying she decided to go ahead and move into an apartment but tells Peter she doesn’t blame Peter for Ben’s death and appreciates the courage it took for him to tell her what happened. After trying an upside down kiss with John, MJ meets up with Peter to talk and asks him to kiss her but they are interrupted by a car flying through the window. Peter saves MJ and they watch as Octavius approaches them, telling Peter to have Spider-Man meet him before knocking Peter into a wall and taking MJ hostage. Peter breaks free from the rubble and finds that his powers have returned and he grabs his costume from Jameson, who had bought it off of bum that had found it and had it displayed in his office, then goes on to face Octavius, with their fight carrying on to the top of a subway car. Octavius causes the subway to go out of control, then jumps onto a building to escape, leaving Spider-Man to try and stop the runaway train. Spider-Man eventually manages to stop the strain, though the strain almost causes him to fall to his death but he is saved by the train’s passengers, who try to defend him from Octavius but Octavius easily brushes them aside and knocks Spider-Man out. Octavius carries Spider-Man to Harry and leaves him for Harry to kill while he takes the tritium needed to fuel his device. Harry rips off Spider-Man’s mask and is shocked to discover Peter is Spider-Man and after Peter frees himself, asks Harry where Octavius is, saying what is at stake is bigger than the issues between them. Spider-Man heads off to Octavius’ lair just as Octavius activates his machine. He attempts to rescue MJ but Octavius spots him and the two start fighting again. Spider-Man is able to stop Octavius and unplug the machine but the device continues to function. Spider-Man approaches Octavius and asks for his help in stopping it, taking off his mask to reveal he is Peter. Octavius attacks him at first, but Peter convinces him to help and Octavius uses the arms to sink the device in the river, drowning himself in the process. Meanwhile, Peter saves MJ from the debris and after making their way to safety, he admits that he still loves her but because he will always be Spider-Man, and will have enemies that might hurt her to get to him. When John arrives with the police, MJ reunites him but watches sadly as Peter swings away. Meanwhile, Harry is drinking when he has a vision of his father telling him to avenge his death and Harry throws his drink through the mirror, discovering his father’s hidden lair with all of his Green Goblin material. The next day, MJ stands up John at the altar and heads to Peter’s apartment, telling Peter she is free to make her own choice and face the risks being with him and the two kiss before they hear sirens and MJ tells Peter to go after them, watching as he swings away.
Spider-Man 2 met with high praise from the critics, holding a certified fresh rating of 94% on Rotten Tomatoes. The critical consensus on the site is, ” Boasting an entertaining villain and deeper emotional focus, this is a nimble sequel that improves upon the original.” Since the movie came out, it has been judged as one of the best comic book movies of all times among the various critics. In spite of receiving better reviews from the critics, the movie did not fare as well at the box office as it’s predecessor, earning $783.8 million off of a $200 million budget.
This is definitely a great movie to watch and deserving of all of the praise that it received. The acting was really good, with Tobey Maguire (Peter), Kirsten Dunst (MJ), James Franco (Harry), and Rosemary Harris (Aunt May) all did good jobs in reprising their roles. I thought Alfred Molina was great as Doctor Octopus and did a good job of showcasing the character’s intelligence as well as his arrogance. The story was very good, showcasing a lot of character development in Peter as he struggles with his life as Spider-Man and his life as Peter Parker. On a personal note, I thought the nod to Superman when Peter was trying to stop the subway train was really funny. I also liked Harry’s obsession with killing Spider-Man started driving him to the same madness that plagued his father (much like in the comics). The special effects were definitely improved in this movie and did a great job blending CGI and stunt work for the various fight scenes. About the only thing I didn’t like in this movie was how they were portraying MJ, but I can’t really say why it bugged me. My personal gripe aside, this is a fantastic movie that can stand up to any of Marvel’s recent movies (and definitely most of DC’s) and well worth watching.
Rating: 4 1/2 out of 5