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Last Updated: Tuesday, 20 July 2004, 10:39 GMT 11:39 UK
Review: Spider-Man 2
Tom Brook
By Tom Brook
In New York

Spider-Man 2
The blockbuster sequel reportedly cost $200m (109m)

Spider-Man 2 is that rare Hollywood phenomenon, a sequel that is actually better than the original.

It opens with Peter Parker, as a pizza delivery-boy and college student refreshingly free of hubris. Ambivalent about his superhero powers, he remains preoccupied with his one-time girlfriend Mary Jane, now a model and actress.

The sequel is essentially a coming-of-age story in which Parker comes to terms with his superhero gifts and redefines his romantic involvement with Mary Jane.

The special effects in the film have a seamless quality that far surpass those in the original. The action sequences are impressive too, they follow the human drama, driving the narrative rather than interrupting it.

But the film just wouldn't be a success without Tobey Maguire, whose involvement in the sequel was initially in doubt.

Emotional terrain

Maguire, who does much of his acting through his eyes, manages to present Spider-Man as a superhero with real soul.

Tobey Maguire as Spider-Man
Maguire claims he has a lot in common with the superhero

Kirsten Dunst as Mary Jane and the other principal actors have had their roles strengthened, with each character navigating intriguing emotional terrain.

The British actor Alfred Molina makes a fine debut in the franchise, giving life to a villain who is far from one-dimensional. The menacing, multi-tentacled Doc Ock is clearly a tortured soul struggling with the demons that have taken control of him.

One unexpected character development comes in the guise of Peter's Aunt May, played by British-born actress Rosemary Harris. Hardly a gymnast, Aunt May surprises the audience when she appears in an action scene where she is saved by Spider-Man.

In fact, Aunt May proves a major influence on Parker. In a moment that is probably too emotional for hard-core Spidey fans, she strongly suggests to her disillusioned nephew that the world is in dire need of a benevolent superhero like Spider-Man.

Contemporary hero

Indeed with Spider-Man 2, Hollywood has brought us a super-hero who may resonate with many Americans. Especially those who, in these unstable times, feel their country lacks larger-than-life contemporary heroes to give it a sense of purpose.

Alfred Molina as Doc Ock
British actor Alfred Molina plays multi-tentacled villain Doc Ock

The film isn't without imperfection - there are some loose ends in the narrative, specifically a tentative and unexplained romantic overture towards Parker from his landlord's daughter.

But overall, director Sam Raimi has done a fine job. Spider-Man 2 is original, complex and very satisfying.

At its heart, it is a film where the screenplay is star, a well-written big budget blockbuster that artfully combines compelling action with intelligent, coherent human drama.

Spider-Man 2 opens in the United States on 30 June and in the UK on 15 July.

Your reviews:

I have been a Spidey fan for a long time and I feel that this movie is a real homage to the comic books and Raimi's direction and Maguire's acting are both superb...BUT...they are doing a Batman. They are killing the bad guys. And how many people now know who spider-man is? Too many. They are rushing through the comic book stories as quickly as possible that they are going to run out of ideas. But these films will continue to be a success as long as the director and the star remain attached....which will only be one more film. Look for a new direction in Spidey 4.
Andrew Anderson, Brentwood, Essex

Superb movie. Runs the emotional gamut going from amusingly cheesy to touchingly dramatic. As for the cake scene with the neighbour, that was a subtle visual representation of a resolution to one of the internal character conflicts of the movie: you can have your cake and eat it too. This movie is smart as well as entertaining.
JV, Manila, Philippines

If you want to waste your money, go and watch Spiderman 2 :)
Mohsin, London

What can I say, we watched this last night, a colleague and I and came out stunned! What a masterful piece of acting and directing!! We spent an hour afterwards discussing it and how it went above ALL expectations. Those people slating it need to keep their views to themselves, 90% of people of here loved it and i'm afraid majority counts. What a film, is all I can say!! Roll on No. 3!!!
Garen Tejevbo, High Wycombe, UK

Fantastic film. OK, the script did have a few cheesy lines, but then, which Hollywood blockbuster doesn't? The basis of the film's appeal is how well they have managed to bring Spider-man to life. The casting, costuming and storylines are as close to the comic as possible. If you haven't seen this film, you're missing out!!
Gareth Jones, Bangor, Wales

Very impressive special effects, a suitable plot, rubbish script, poor acting. I am amazed it has been so well received.
Mike Jones, Bucks, UK

Better than the first one. But I can't stand Romantic nonsense that fills films like these. We don't need so much focus on this side of the film. Everyone know what is going to happen in situations like these. Also portraying the Peter Parker character as some complete down and out living in abject poverty always failing at social interaction is not how I remember the cartoon character, and spoils the film for me. Overall 6.5/10 Certainly wouldn't pay to see it again. Give us some action from start to finish in Spidey 3 !
Chris Sandiford, manchester

Considering i'm not much of a Spidey fan, the film was amazing and true to what I've read in the comics of Peter wrestling to decide whether or not to stay Spider-man. Lets see the big heroes come back like the dark knight and the man of steel (i.e Batman and Superman!)
Richard Grayson, Newcastle, UK

Entertaining in a predictable way. Exactly what you would expect, stunning special effects - but what makes it stands out is the quality of the acting from Maguire. I've seen loads of Hollywood movies with stunning special effects but poor actors with badly written lines - this is better than that.
Alex Liang, London UK

This Spider-film is bigger, funnier and has a much better villain that the first film, but it's a bit over-long and dwells on character development for over long periods but this is in keeping with the current style within the comic of which the film is based on. Saying that, when the film shifts into gear it really is edge of the seat stuff. Not as clever as X-Men 2, but still wildly entertaining, do yourself a favour go see it and enjoy yourself.
Hugh, Glasgow, UK

Without a doubt the best film of the year. I've seen it twice now and I love it. The first one was good this one was great. Don't miss out - go see it now !
Conrad Hill, UK

Saw the movie last evening with my 12 year old. He came out saying "one more thing to add to my list of scary"! It was all very real and I was genuinely concerned for the characters' safety, which was a sign to me that I was in the zone where you are so "in" the film that you have totally suspended real life for 2 hours or so. I love that!! Much better than the first one, with more depth of character, more angst and reality. Especially liked the baddie, excellent casting and a much more believable one that that awful green thing the last time out. Well done to all.
Ursula, Wales.

It ws alright. Far too overhyped though. The 'Blade' series are better comic-to-action films by far. Too much heartstring pulling, that was too drawn out, really affected the flow and pace of the film.
Matt, Chelmsford, UK

Am I missing something here? Yes the original was brilliant, but the sequel was simply not as good! The effects are great, the bad guy is a far more interesting character and some of the action scenes are brilliant. But the film spends so much time retreading the same ground the first one did, slowing the pace down to the point where I found it very boring. Still, I'm sure we've got another 7 sequels to look forward many enemies did Spiderman actually have?
Matt, Canterbury, Kent, UK

Strange for a cinema to burst into applause when the curtain draws back but that's what happened last night and were we given a treat. A amazing film which was way better than the original. The action sequences leave you holding your breath and the contrasting torture of the main characters was brought to life in an engaging and compelling way. Go see it, you wont be disappointed.
Brian Boag, London

I was so dissapointed and bored with this film that I opted to leave the cinema 30 mins before the end. The plot was poor, the acting from Tobey Maguire was wooden and at times cringeworthy. I found myself questioning whether this was an action film or a poor romance. I enjoyed the first film and I hope that the inevitable third instalment delivers what this second one lacked. Maybe MJ will have a baby spider with 1000 eyes that turns and eats its mother. Now that would be cool.
Shaun Malone, Warwickshire, England

I thought the film was top class!. I've seen almost every episode of the Spiderman cartoons, and I can honestly say this fits the bill. Maguire IS Peter Parker!
ZD, Nelson, Lancashire

Outstanding movie, I loved nearly all of it, especially the breathtaking train scene. I'd disagree with Tom Brook about the unresolved thread of Parker and the landlord's daughter. Resolution here isn't the point. Instead it neatly demonstrates to Parker that he's not the only one who can't get what they want in love. The cake-eating scene was so quiet and understated, it's the sort of thing that would have been cut from any other big-budget movie by the first Hollywood execs to review the script. It's a far more subtle character turning-point scene than the over-the-top flashback with Parker and Uncle Ben. What was that in aid of?
Richard Salter, Toronto, Canada

Thoroughly enjoyed movie! Super action, touching love scenes and a little comedy thrown in too! Bring on Spidey 3!
Kerry Arnold, West Mids, England

Spider-Man 2 deserves the accolade of being a vast improvement on its predecessor. This time round the audience gets to enjoy a far meatier villain in Doc Ock (Molina). The narratively-driven action sequences are beautiful to watch and feel like you are viewing a violent ballet sequence at times. Maguire and Dunst are again spot on in their roles and create enough sexual chemistry to make anyone flustered under the collar. This film surpassed all of my expectations and more as it is not a sequel as it is a continuation from the first box office smash. Finally a human superhero we can relate to! Well done Sam Raimi, keep up the good work.
Jimi Williams, Redditch, England

Thought it was absolutely amazing. The special effects blow your mind, the love story is really warm and there are just enough funny moments to make you laugh, without ruining the film's credibility. Excellent movie and I'm definitely awaiting Spiderman 3.
Jordan Dias, London, UK

Reasonably good movie, not to be seen a second time. Too much staring from Maguire got me urging him to do or say something. Too drawn out in places. Very good action. Villain very good. The love bit didn't seem to work right.
Pete Whittingham, Sharjah, UAE

I thought that the film was much over-hyped, and didn't live up to expectations. Hopefully things will improve in the next film.
Temi Adesanya, UK

Euphoria! Tobey Maguire is a brilliant actor and as someone had previously stated he IS Spiderman. I couldn't imagine anyone else taking the role, and it is indeed all in the eyes. The emotion that exudes from his eyes reflects the dilemma that Peter Parker faces. Sam Raimi's directorial skills equal that of perfection. The effects were much better this time round but what made the film superb was the story of Peter Parker's life. The film could have easily been just another action film with no real emotion or appeal by short changing the audience with just action and no real story. The humanistic side is what makes it believable. The Green Goblin was a joke simply put but Alfred Molina as Doc Oc knocked my socks off. If this film does not ca! ptivate you than you should seek help immediately.
Tiffany, USA

Far better than the first one!!!! The particular scene with the train was breathtaking.
Vikas, Mumbai, India

Yeah man, great movie! Worked on several levels - story, characters, dialogue and settings. Like the Stan Lee and John Romita comic book arcs brought to life, I almost expected Gwen Stacy to stroll into a scene.
Christian Hesse, NYC, USA

It was the best movie ever, emotional, but jam-packed with a lot of action, and Tobey Maguire was the best. The actors did a very fine job. I loved it!!!
Anna , Auckland, New Zealand

Very, very, very good! What more can I say?
Ian Collier, Falmouth, England

It rocked. Go see it, it's worth the price of admission.
Tom M., Harrisburg, PA USA

Greatest comic book movie ever! The emotional core of the movie perfectly captures the true spirit of the comic. The effects are breathtaking - truly a leap forward in filmmaking. There are always critics of CG work, but they have no idea the level of quality this film achieves. I'm sure most people wouldn't even realise which elements are real and which are CG.
George, Los Angeles, CA

Spider-Man 2 does not even deserve the lofty accolade of getting described as being 'better than the original'. It does not even need a rival for comparison as it probably will stand on its own merits and be hailed for its achievements as one of the best filmmaking bonanzas in history. A great cinematic experience in that it not only spans a whole spectrum of genres from drama, comedy, black humour, romance and superhero fantasy fun all the way up to its revolutionary trend-setting CGI charged action sequences that will leave even the biggest action fan riveted, it also can thus stand testament to being a film that truly appeals to all tastes. Spider-Man 2 proves that you can achieve filmmaking excellence if you pull yourself up when you're down through these very qualities director Sam Raimi highlights. Put all this together and we can truly celebrate what we have possibly as, the greatest superhero film of all time.
Stephen Charles Thanabalan, Singapore

Brilliant performances combined with seamless special effects make this film a huge success. Toby McGuire and Kirsten Dunst are simply wonderful together. As Rosemary Harris (Aunt May)says to Peter in this film, "There's a hero in all of us." I believe most of us can identify with Peter Parker and really believe that to be true.
Michael Mazzola, Boston, Massachusetts, USA

Didn't think it was as good as the first. The plot got dragged down with Spiderman's emotional rubbish. This film is nothing special!
Chris, UK

The original was hysterically overrated: a weak, laborious script, a literally laughable villain and overall, a major lack of fun or humour. In the aftermath of the Fellowship of the Ring, the special effects were second-rate at best. Could Sam Raimi have given a better reply, then, than this barnstorming sequel? Everything the first lacked, this has in buckets. I never dreamed I'd say this, but I can't wait for number 3.
Craig Cunningham, Strathaven, Scotland (holidaying in US)

Spider-Man 2 is about a good a time as you can possibly have at a movie during the summertime, period. And that's not to say that it's laden with wall-to-wall action and perpetual explosions. This is a movie that, much like its widely adored predecessor, values character above all else. You can throw $150 million worth of eye candy at the screen and you'll tickle a whole lot of retinas, but without a foundation of basic humanity ... well, then you're stuck watching something called Van Helsing: a hollow shell of a film, a flimsy framework of false fronts and meaningless ruckus. Allow the moviegoer to feel some sort of sincere and basic emotion and they'll be putty in your hands, both knowingly and willingly. Both Spider-Man movies put most blockbusters to shame, simply because they offer the formula that so many filmmakers simply ignore: it starts with plain ol' people.
Jimmy Fitzpartick, Sydney, Australia

Unbelievable! I had shivers down my spine as I left the cinema. Pure, unadulterated action and emotion. Can't wait for number 3!
Lisa, Dubai, UAE

Absolutely awesome film-making. A rare blockbuster sequel that is not only far better than the original but has real heart, properly-drawn characters and weaves story and action perfectly. You'll come out of the cinema genuinely overwhelmed by how forceful it is. The action scenes are just out of this world. If only Van Helsing and Troy could have had just an ounce of the greatness on display here. I've never cared about comic books in the slightest, but this is a top film.
James, UK

It's Jane Austin on Marvel Comics crack. The emotional melodrama made me laugh. And why were all the women anorexic?? And the men (except for our hero and his foil) very overweight?? If you do see this film, drink before hand.
Theresa, Houston, United States

All I can say is WOW! I wasn't a fan of the first one. It was ok but a bit of a let-down. This one really is good! Just a shame they promoted piracy of the film by releasing it in different areas of the world at different times.
Morgan Pugh, UK

This movie was absolutely brilliant, with enough action and romance to make it the ultimate date flick. Sam Raimi surprised me completely with his masterful handling of both. In a story where things have to get worse before they get better, I often wondered how much worse things could get. Spiderman 2 made me cry, a lot. Hope Raimi gets to direct the third one.
Amy Dolphin, New Westminster, Canada

I must have seen a different movie than everyone else who's commented. The scene where the New Yorkers stand up for Spidey drew guffaws from the audience and eye rolls from me. The turning point for Peter and Harry's relationship was both flat and rushed. And Maguire's and Molina's superb performances were muted by the pacing. The script does set up a promising third act and, to me, that's the sole purpose of this movie: To move Peter, Mary Jane and Harry from Act One to Act Three. But that could have been accomplished in about 20 minutes, not two hours.
Christine Williamson, South Carolina, USA

I thoroughly enjoyed it. however it is overlong, dragging at times. Taking a little to long to get going, then seeming to partly lose its way in the second half.. Also, though the effects were good, there was way too much CGI and not enough live action (a strength of the first film was the gritty combat). the big set pieces were rather less believable than in the original movie - which was a more entertaining film i thought. But not by much.. I like both films and really do hope they make another instalment. - Alfred Molina was excellent!
Russ, uk

Awesome Movie!! Can't wait for Spider-Man 3 :D
Apurva, North East, UK

Absolutely amazing movie. It's an all team effort - everyone has done their job. This movie will break all previous records. Maguire is the superstar of the future.
Sher Ali Tabrizi, Karachi, Pakistan

Spiderman 2 is miles better than the first one. Sam Raimi's trademark styles are visible throughout. Tobey Maguire did a superb job adding the human qualities to a superhuman hero, and Spidey's relationship with MJ was given much more depth than in the first movie. It's a great summer flick. Go see it!
Annie, Hong Kong

No doubt Spidey fans will get a thrill from the second instalment of the tribulations of this Marvel action hero. This film delves deeper into the plight of our favourite web slinger's identity crisis. The film balances the intensity of Parker's crisis and reign of misfortune with some cheeky moments and some really well timed action sequences. Kudos to the casting director in creating Doc Oc. It is a film that portrays both hero and villain as tragic figures adding to the epic feel of this film. Lots of surprises and great moments in this one. Don't miss it!!
Irin, Brooklyn

I would have to say this is a must-see. One of the best sequels ever. Absolutely brilliant action scenes and a great plot with rather decent acting. I would watch it again just for the subway scene. You have to see it to find out what I am talking about.
Ashwal Swarup, Guelph, Canada

I don't understand people who say this is a perfect example of a comic book film. Tobey Maguire is horrible at Peter Parker. Where are the wisecracks that Spidey was known for? The comic is not very close to the film. Horrendous
Jake, Philadelphia, USA

It was a thoroughly enjoyable movie with a perfect combination of drama and action, not to mention a near-perfect performance by Tobey Maguire.
Sreya Banerjee, Manila, Philippines

Overall liked it. The action scenes were great and had me on the edge of my seat. All actors were good. There were a lot of laughs - maybe a touch too many for my liking. Thought it didn't make sense that Spiderman didn't want to show his feelings to MJ because she might be used by the baddies to get to Spiderman but this is exactly what happened in both films because Parker goes around telling everyone he is Spiderman's photographer. Liked the twist at the end and yes, Alfred Molina's American accent slipped all the time (maybe you have to English to recognize that because my American girlfriend didn't). I personally don't agree that it was better than the first because the plot of the 1st had a little less needless dialogue in it. Overall 8/10 but I would give the 1st film 9/10. Go see it tho'. Its a fab film, just not without some flaws.
Richard B, New York, USA

Fun, exciting movie, but, I found it a tad slow and saw lots of scenes to edit out or speed up. The guy next to me feel asleep! And there were a few too many up-close shots of Tobey's weepy eyes. That said, the movie earned its ending and the actual action scenes (once they happened) were very inventive.
Jean Sheridan, Brookline, USA

I thought the movie was all hype and did not deliver what we were all told it would. I was disappointed in the plot, characters and action. In truth, nothing really happened in the movie. Whether or not they are setting up for a third is irrelevant. When will an actual entertaining movie be released!?! Free us from this terrible silver-screen hell!!
Dan Bano, Milwaukee, USA

A genuinely pleasant shock showing that a sequel can indeed be more successful than it's predecessor. Full of all the emotional, romantic, action and character interaction sequences that Hollywood mixes into its blockbusters, it will be one of the, if not the, biggest movie of the year. From amazing sfx to the expected "drenched Mary Jane in a tight dress", everything is here and mixed expertly by Sam Raimi to produce another hit!
Matt P, Toronto, Canada

Action scenes - superb. Computer graphics - sublime. Tobey Maguire - born to play this role. Kirsten Dunst - convincing actress, excellent eye-candy. Alfred Molina - American accent is unconvincing and jumbled. He also doesn't seem menacing or physically fit enough to be an action villain. Story - deep and emotional, but the dialogue gets verbose. Little humour in this instalment, however well worth admission price overall. Can't wait for Spider-Man 3.
Brendan Delfino, Hong Kong

This movie was a success, I was enthralled by its animation, action and the basic good verses evil, and boy that Kirsten Durst is a brilliant actor.
Pryderi Hughes, Auckland, NZ

Spider-man 2 is not just an action movie. Most of the action scenes are correlated with the emotion of the characters and the story as a whole. It also has a very good balance between action scenes and dialogue scenes. Not one minute is wasted in the movie. Sam Raimi had created a lot of dramatic dissonance in the characters that are expected to be resolved.
Sam Chiu, Hong Kong

SUPERB movie, better than the first. I loved all the web-slinging moves that Spidey does in this movie. Lots more action from Spiderman than in the first one. Loved Dr. Ock, although his ending was kinda blaaaah (could've been better). Even Aunt May gets involved in the action. Good laughs, makes Spidey look more human than superhuman. Looking forward to #3.
Vinod, Troy, MI, USA

The film is the business! It is almost as good as reading the comic strip when I was 11, 12, 13 ... 40 something. The knockabout fisticuffs with Doc Ock brought it all back. Just goes to show that Hollywood isn't all bad.
Patrick, Lima, Peru

Enjoyable blockbuster flick. Much better than part one... but the story just doesn't work for me. Script had plot holes and silly scenes and too much of Parker being upset with himself.
Matt , Hong Kong

Bravo !! One of the best movies I have seen in quite some time.
Tom, Florida, US

Stellar! I Loved It!... I'm a Spidey fan from way back - I was thrilled, this movie was a perfect complement of great acting, directing, and cast with both a great hero and villain. If you want cheese - you'll have to go to the deli - because there's nothing cheesy about this movie!... I'd give it a 10 star rating.
Beverly Smith, Round Rock, Texas - USA

Watching the first half of the film made me feel like I was reading an issue of "The Amazing Spiderman." It was so fun! The second half was completely dynamic and pleasantly surprised me with a lot of the directions it went in. I left the theatre elated. I've seen it twice after.
Jayson Badessa, Providence, Rhode Island, U.S.

I saw Spider-Man 2 last night, and it was amazing. The entire movie was so pleasing however the best thing about the movie was the ending. Raimi and the writer (I apologize to him/her for not knowing his/her name) created an ending that both ties up loose ends and leaves the audience satisfied and yet also quietly leaves an opening for a third instalment. See it, over and over again.
Lou Nunez, NYC, United States

Spiderman is damn awesome! Special effects are just beautiful, while the acting is top notch. Tobey Maguire simply IS Spiderman; his expressive eyes tell the whole story, while Doc Ock is played by Alfred Molina to perfection. One of the things I wasn't expecting with this film was the demonstration of Doc Ock's 'tortured soul,' his Richard III soliloquy's. For me, the fact that Hollywood has shown a villain who is more than a one-dimensional character is fantastic. My hat is off to Sam Raimi and the cast of the film.
Patrick, Canberra, Australia

Spiderman 2 is a real winner. It is exciting the whole way through, exceeding the high mark set by the original. It also manages to maintain high standards, making it fit for the whole family! Bravo!
Shandy Russell, Witter, AR, USA

Oh, what a splendid web they've weaved! Splendid escapism - and a welcome relief from Michael Moore's contrived histrionics.
Robert del Valle, Detroit USA

The movie is is indeed a great sequel to a great movie. spectacular special effects & satisfying story. Have fun!!
Anush Kris, San Diego, US

Awesome. Better than the first. Thrill to the end.
Dustin, Missouri, USA

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