Guest Post -James M's review of Spider-Man 2 (2004)


Welcome back, good friends. Today, we're here to review the sequel to the 2002 Spider-Man film, Sam Raimi's Spider-Man 2, released in 2004 over two years later.

Lets dive in, shall we?

Story time!

Sometime after the events of the first movie, Peter Parker is struggling to balance his life as a normal person and as Spider-Man, the latter part happens to be causing him issues too. At the start of the film, he works as a pizza delivery guy and is tasked with making a delivery, but he ends up arriving at his destination late when he saves some kids in the street as Spider-Man. 

Peter gets fired from his pizza job and ends up facing issues at the Daily Bugle too when Mr. Jameson seemingly fires him as well for getting pictures of other things unrelated to Spider-Man. Peter tells Jameson that Spider Man won't let him take any more pictures as he, Jameson, has turned the whole city against him. "That I'm proud of." Mr. Jameson says smugly. Peter then relents and gives him a picture of himself as Spider Man.

When Peter arrives at Aunt May's place that evening, he finds Mary Jane and Harry there with May as they're preparing to rejoice his birthday. Peter and Harry talk and Harry, who is now the head of Oscorp following the death of his father Norman in the previous movie, offers to introduce him to Doctor Otto Octavius, which Peter accepts as he will be writing a paper on him. After a chat with MJ outside and learning that she's seeing someone else, Peter talks with Aunt May, who gives him some money.

He heads back to his place of residence, a rundown apartment, where his landlord Mr. Ditkovich is demanding for rent. "If promises were crackers, my daughter would be fat." Ditkovich says jokingly when Peter makes a promise related to the rent.

Harry soon introduces Peter to Doctor Octavius, who reveals that he knows Peter's college science class teacher Doctor Connors and tells Peter, "Intelligence is not a gift, its a privilege, you can use it for the good of mankind." Otto then reveals he's preparing to do a fusion reactor experiment and Peter gladly accepts the invitation to see his work the following day.

That night, while on his way to see one of Mary Jane's plays, things don't go as planned for Peter as he has to suit up as Spider-Man to catch some criminals. As he pursues the bad guys, Peter suddenly loses his powers for a while. He manages to get to the theater where MJ is having her play, but the usher (played by Bruce Campbell) dismisses him due to Peter being late.

A day later, Peter attends Otto's experiment with Harry and many others, watching as the doctor reveals one of his inventions; a set of mechanical arms that are heat-resistant that attach to his back and have an inhibitor chip to prevent the arms from controlling Otto's mind. The experiment seems to go well, but then a spike happens with the fusion reactor and things go south quickly. 

During the chaos, Otto's wife Rosie is killed by a shard of glass and Otto's chip is damaged. Peter suits up as Spider-Man and saves Harry's life while shutting down the machine before it can do any further harm. Otto is rushed to a hospital, where he wakes up and attacks a group of doctors with his mechanical arms. Afterwards, he fleas to a pier where he starts planning to redo the experiment as the arms begin corrupting his mind.

When Mr. Jameson hears of what happened, he decides to name the new villain as Doctor Octopus aka Doc Ock (while taking credit for his assistant Hoffman's suggestion). Jameson reprimands Peter for not getting any pictures of the incident at Otto's lab and then tells him that he's needed to fill in for a high-society photographer at the local planetarium for a party in honor of his astronaut son. When Peter asks if Jameson will pay him in advance, Jameson just laughs.

"Pay you for what, standing there?" He asks, "Tomorrow night, eight o clock, there's the door."

Peter joins Aunt May at the bank as she's trying to get some money in an attempt to prevent her house from being foreclosed, but the visit takes a turn when Doctor Octopus arrives to steal some money. Peter heads off to suit up and returns as Spider-Man, a battle unfolds inside the bank and Doc Ock kidnaps Aunt May during the fight. 

Doc Ock and Spider Man's fight continues in the city outside and Peter manages to save Aunt May, who helps in return by hitting Doc Ock with her cane right before he can land an attack on Peter. Doc Ock gets away and Peter accepts Aunt May's thanks before heading off with her unaware as to who is under that mask.

That night, Peter arrives at the planetarium and, as he's taking photos of Jameson and his wife with the city elite, the guest of honor of the party, Mr. Jameson's son John Jameson, arrives with none other than Mary Jane herself. Harry, who is attending the party, voices his contempt for Peter stealing his father's love along with his "friendship with Spider Man". As if things couldn't get more crazy for Peter, he then discovers that Mary Jane has agreed to marry John, much to his dismay.

While swinging through the city as Spider-Man afterwards, Peter loses his powers again and falls in an alleyway. With his life taking a toll on him, Peter eventually gives up on being Spider-Man, deciding that he's "Spider-Man no more". In the days that follow, Peter's life seems to get better for him, especially in college as he starts studying more and seems to get higher grades than ever. 

However, despite giving up on being Spider-Man, Peter is eventually faced with doubts about his decision after he braves a burning building to save a couple's baby girl while someone dies on a higher floor. As he's visiting his aunt's place as she's preparing to move, Peter talks with Aunt May, who gives a speech about the importance of being a hero and that there is a hero in all of them. 

This almost implies that Aunt May somehow figured out that she knows Peter is Spider-Man, doesn't it?

In the meantime, Doc Ock almost has the new transfusion reactor complete and all he needs is tritium. Peter attends one of MJ's plays and chats with her, but he can do nothing to change her mind from marrying John and says that she'll be getting married in a church. Otto meets with Harry, who tells him to find Spider-Man through Peter while promising to get him the tritium he needs.

"Don't kill Peter!" Harry tells Doc Ock.

After talking with John and having a kiss with him, Mary Jane starts to have second thoughts about the whole thing and meets up with Peter at a diner. As the two are talking, Doc Ock arrives to kidnap MJ and threatens to kill her unless Spider-Man meets with him at the West Side Market clock tower by 3 o clock. Doc Ock heads off with MJ hostage and Peter's powers return to him.

With his strength back, the first thing he does is head to the Daily Bugle and snatch his superhero costume, right as Mr. Jameson is lamenting what he did to drive Spider-Man away. "Spider-Man was a hero, I just couldn't see it." He says, "He was a..." Jameson notices the suit taken and gets very angry, declaring Spider-Man a thief and a criminal who should be strung up by his web.

"I WANT SPIDER MAN!" Jameson yells.

Peter confronts Doc Ock on the clock tower and the fight leads to them battling atop a train, which the scientist sabotages by taking out the controls. As Doc Ock gets away again, Peter works to stop the train and succeeds, but not before people see him without his mask, which he removed when the wrecked controls of the train blew up in his face. 

Thankfully, the people vow to never tell anybody. Then Doc Ock returns and takes Peter into custody, taking him to the Osborn residence. Harry unmasks Peter and is shocked to see who is under the mask, Peter learns what Doc Ock is up to and then heads off to the pier to confront the villain.

Doc Ock is in the midst of starting up the reactor and Peter arrives to confront him, while discovering that MJ is there as well. Doc Ock is furious that Spider-Man is still alive after he thought Harry would be the one to kill him. "I should've known Osborn wouldn't have the spine to finish you." He says.

"Shut it down, doc." Peter says, referring to the reactor, "You're gonna kill a lot more people this time."

Peter and Doc Ock battle with the scientist pulling no punches and Peter manages to unplug the reactor, but it does no use. The reactor is self-sustaining now and New York will be devastated unless its stopped! Peter unmasks himself and reveals his identity to Otto, who initially tries to strangle him, but he manages to get through to the scientist and Otto vows to destroy the reactor by putting it in the river.

MJ is shocked to see that Peter is Spider-Man when she sees him unmasked and Peter saves MJ from the collapsing pier while Otto Octavius sacrifices himself to destroy the reactor and they both fall into the river while Peter and MJ make it to safety. Peter confesses his love to Mary Jane, but they almost know that they "can never be".

The next day, MJ is about to wed John, but she makes her decision at the last minute and runs away to Peter, leaving John at the altar alone. She meets with Peter at his apartment, having decided it doesn't matter what will happen with Peter as Spider-Man. As they are kissing, sirens go off in the city, indicating bad guys are up to no good. "Go get 'em, Tiger." MJ says.

Peter suits up as Spider-Man and swings through New York to fight crime while Mary Jane looks on from his apartment room window. Meanwhile, winding back time to the night of Doc Ock's defeat, Harry is at his place when he hears the laugh of the Goblin and his father Norman appears in the mirror and tells him to kill Spider-Man to avenge him.

Harry is reluctant and screams no, but when he throws the knife meant for Spider-Man in the mirror, it shatters and Harry discovers a secret room that his father apparently used for when he was the Green Goblin. Harry picks up one of the performance enhancers, setting up what he will do soon...

Final Thoughts:

When Spider-Man 2 came out in 2004, it was a massive hit and people see it as one of the greatest superhero movies of all time to this day. We saw this days after we saw the first Spider-Man and it is really good, no questions asked. Sam Raimi knew what he was doing and the special effects seem to hold up today if you view it again. Casting Alfred Molina as Doc Ock was a fine casting choice and, by the time I'd seen this film, I was oblivious to the fact I'd seen him before in 1981's Indiana Jones & The Raiders Of The Lost Ark and I'd kinda forgotten about that film. 

The story of this film is very well-paced and deeply thought out, the characters' portrayals are on the mark and the musical score really helps add to the flavor of the sequel. Fun fact, I actually briefly saw the train fight scene of Spider-Man 2 when I was blipping around on TV years ago. Heck, sometime after that (in 2008 I think), I saw some footage of the movie at one point when a TV in a trailer showed some stuff related to Spider-Man and this was before I was fully invested into superhero stuff.

Spider-Man 2 is somewhere along the lines of a masterpiece for its time, it is a very memorable superhero film that fans will be watching over and over from time to time. If you have the time and haven't seen it yet, watch it. I've you've seen it before, give it a rewatch. I've seen this twice already and I'll be happy to see it again down the line, depending on the mood.

Farewell, true believers, and have a good day...


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