If the first Spider-man film was all about how with great power comes great responsibility, then it’s follow up was about how you balance that great power and responsibility with all the other baggage that comes with it.

Picking up approximately 2 years after the events of the first film, things are not going well for Peter Parker.

Struggling to balance his ordinary life with his superhero life, we learn that while Spider-man may be a great crime fighter, when it comes to commitments to family and friends he is pretty useless and unreliable.

Naturally, his friends and family don’t know about his double identity, meaning that they just think he is being a jerk.

Mary Jane is growing frustrated with the confusing signals she’s getting from Parker, while Osborne is increasingly getting the hump with him because in his eyes Spider-man killed his father and Parker is protecting him because Spider-man is his bread and butter (being his unofficial photographer).

It’s all pretty much fluffy soap opera stuff and had Spider-man 2 not featured the brilliant Alfred Molina as fantastically designed Otto Octavius, the film could’ve been a very frustrating experience.

Like most villains in the Spider-man series, Dr Otto Octavius is simply misunderstood.  A brilliant scientist with a brilliant vision of affordable energy, he shown to be a man of ambition and at times, a soppy romantic who likes to read poetry to the woman he loves.

He is also seen to admire Peter Parker and for a moment you get the impression that Otto would like to take Parker under his wing.

Revealing these little nuggets of information, makes Otto’s transformation to Doctor Octopus all the more tragic.

As the robotic arms are fused into his spine and nervous system, his sanity is compromised and he becomes a victim and slave to his own creation.

The scene where he is unconscious and the surgeons are working out a way to remove these robotic limbs is textbook Raimi stuff.  What starts off as a quiet operating scene, soon descends into complete chaos and visually is akin to something from one of the Evil Dead films.  In fact, for a PG it is pretty strong stuff and for me is one of the most memorable moments in any Spider-man film.

James Franco’s Harry Osborne also grows into his own, with his obsession of avenging his father’s death complicating his friendship with Peter Parker.

Despite the aforementioned soap opera feeling, the scenes between him and Tobey Maguire are actually played out quite well and convincingly invoke the impression of a friendship deteriorating.

James Franco as Harry Osborne

James Franco as Harry Osborne

This plot line also sets up the third film rather nicely, with Harry’s final scene in the movie being one of the best cliff hangers since The Empire Strikes Back.

The rest of the plot plods along at a fairly good pace.

If there is one misfire in the story though, it’s the clunky storyline regarding Spider-man losing his arachnid abilities.

It doesn’t actually go anywhere and is never properly tied up.  Insinuating that Spider-man lost his mojo because his alter-ego had the grumps is pretty lazy writing and opens up the question why this never happens again in the series, since in this trilogy Peter is pretty miserable most of the time.

It’s well known that this idea was partly inspired by Superman 2 which features the story’s hero abandoning his duties in search of a normal and happy life, but with Spider-man 2 the execution is slightly off. In fact it feels a bit like an attempt to shoehorn in certain elements of the classic comic “Spider-man no more!” just for the sake of it.

However, it’s a minor complaint when consider the set pieces that are on offer here, as Spider-man 2 features some of the finest moments in the series.

The fight between Spider-man and Doctor Octopus on top of a moving train is simply amazing and the special effects wizards should be commended for their efforts.  And not only does the scene feature some breathtaking moments, it’s followed up with a touching scene in which Spider-man loses his mask and the citizens on the train see his true identity.

This scene gives Peter Parker and not Spider-man, the recognition he deserves and it’s a nice moment for the character to see the appreciation for his efforts in protecting the city of New York.

Overall, Spider-man 2 is very much more of the same.  It’s more polished than Spider-man, but naturally being a second part it lacks it’s predecessor’s freshness.  That’s not to say it’s bad.  Alfred Molina give a compelling performance as Otto Octavius and with everyone picking up where they left off, continuing down the long and winding road, Spider-man 2 is a worthy companion to the first film.

About The Author

Colin lives in south west London. Looks like a hobbit and has been watching films ever since he saw Return of the Jedi at the age of 3. You can follow Colin on Twitter @obicolkenobi.