Director Sam Raimi weaves a wonderfully seductive web of arachnid action, human drama, and wink-nudge comedy in comicbook caper Spider-Man 2. It's been two years since Tobey Maguire first charmed audiences in the role of Peter Parker, the unassuming geek turned sticky-fingered superhero. Now he returns older, wiser, and dangerously world-weary. He ditches the Spidey suit after his superhero antics drive lifelong friend MJ Watson (Kirsten Dunst) into the arms of another. But his timing couldn't be worse...
As is wont in comicbook world, a scientific experiment goes horribly wrong and spawns a super-villain in Dr Otto Octavius (Alfred Molina), aka Doc Ock. (Note: side effects of cold fusion include sprouting four mechanical arms and a psychotic obsession with ruling the planet.) The welfare of the world sits heavy on Peter's shoulders, as does repressed guilt over his uncle's death and for killing best buddy Harry Osborn's father (aka The Green Goblin). It's a tangled web of intrigue, although screenwriter Alvin Sargent falls through a plothole when - despite being powerless to negotiate - Harry (James Franco) strikes a deal with Octavius for the head of Spider-Man.
"FINEST MARVEL ADAPTATION EVER"
Even with this pesky oversight, Spider-Man 2 is the finest Marvel adaptation ever committed to celluloid. That's largely thanks to Raimi, who treads the tightrope between comedy and tragedy with spidery stealth. Not since Butch Cassidy And The Sundance Kid has the use of freeze frame and Burt Bacharach's Raindrops Keep Falling On My Head been this funny and so poignant. Another scene, where Spidey is forced to ride the elevator, is just roll-in-the-aisles hilarious.
The action is also first class: the aerial shots of Spider-Man swinging through the city are breathtaking, and his one-on-one with a runaway train is as memorable for its emotional power as for its high-speed kinetics. Even better than the original, Spider-Man 2 will have you crawling the walls in anticipation of the third.