Spider-Man 2 ★★★★

She looks at me every day. Mary Jane Watson. Oh boy. If she only knew how I felt about her. But she can never know. I made a choice once to live a life of responsibility, a life she can never be a part of. Who am I? I’m Spider-man, given a job to do. And I’m Peter Parker, and I too have a job…

So begins Spider-man 2, the next of Sam Raimi’s Spider-man series. An exception to most sequels; this one is an improvement in almost every way over the first. While the 3rd is personally my favorite, #2 has many strengths, including a strong story.

The Story
Peter Parker has gotten a job at the local pizza shop as the delivery man. The job gets worse as Peter is continually late due to his usual bad luck and the fact that he tries to anonymously save the world in-between pizza runs.
Meanwhile, his relationships with his friends are crumbling. Peter’s best friend Mary Jane falls in love with a young captain. His friend Harry holds Spider-man responsible for his father’s death. Though Harry doesn’t know Spider-man’s identity, the fact that Peter is the Spider-man photographer for the Daily Bugle only causes increasing tension in their friendship.
Though Peter has decided to use his powers for good, he continues to struggle between his two identities: a famous New York hero with super powers, and that of simple Peter Parker. His resulting lack of focus causes him to start failing in his classes. However, he decides to write a paper about a rising scientist being funded by Harry’s company: Oscorp Industries.
Dr. Otto Octavius has been researching for years working on a design to initiate and sustain fusion. He finally is ready to test his plans, which include attaching 2 sets of mechanical arms to his body in order to be able to use them in areas no human hand could enter. In the middle of the demonstration, the containment field can’t control the amount of energy being released and in the resulting explosions, a chip in Octavius’s mechanical arms blows, causing his mind to lose partial control of them. With his wife gone, he concludes that there is nothing left to live for other than the work he started. Confident that his calculations were correct, he decides to rebuild with an enlarged containment field, and begins robbing money in order to pay for it.
Meanwhile, Peter has made the decision that he cannot live as both Spider-man and Peter Parker, and gives up being Spider-man, partly as an attempt to win MJ back. His decision gives him purpose and he starts to do well again in his studies. After turning away from several crime scenes, Pete ends up running into a burning building in an attempt to save someone trapped inside. After saving the little girl’s life, he again wonders what he should be doing with his life.
When MJ is captured in order to force Peter to tell where Spider-man is, his mind is made up. As a result, Spider-man is captured by Doc Ock and delivered to Harry in return for the promised Tridium, the final element needed for his next experiment. Harry learns the truth about Peter, also discovering that his father was the Green Goblin.
Doc Ock’s again-failing experiment is stopped and Peter saves MJ, where she finally realizes who Spider-man is.
While the final film is my favorite, Spider-man 2 has a clearer storyline. The characters all experience plenty of growth, whether better or worse, reminding us again, that we always have a choice.

Technical Quality
Made in 2004, the special effects have vastly improved over the first one, and there are no scenes that look very poor.
The actors continue to handle their rolls very well, with the excellent addition of Alfred Molina as Otto Octavius.
The music is probably the one thing that didn’t hold up to the first. While the themes are still good, there is a lot more filler music, and the score is not really fantastic.

Rated PG-13, for appropriate audiences, there is not too much that I would caution in this film.
There is some bad language, but not much. I just use the filter on it.
Probably the most annoying thing for me was MJ wanting to kiss different guys to find out who she was in love with. :P And I don’t exactly approve of ditching your fiancé when he’s up the aisle waiting for you...

Good Elements
Once again, the film contains plenty of humor, making these films just a lot of fun to watch.
We get to see a loving husband/wife relationship between Octavius and his wife. Octavius also tells Peter, “Intelligence is not a privilege, it’s a gift, and you use it for the good of mankind.”
The impression that Pete’s Uncle Ben made on him is evident throughout the film as we see the times Peter is trying to figure out what to do. In his mind, Ben is the one arguing for him to make the right choices.

Spider-man 2 continues what these films are best at: demonstrating that we always have a choice, and the wrong choice is never right. With strong elements of sacrifice and choosing to do what is right, this film has earned its place as one of my all-time favorites.