While celebrating another birthday with his friends and Aunt May (Rosemary Harris), Peter becomes depressed. Despite all of his heroics as the Spider-Man, Peter Parker has nothing to show for his success. Peter is a failure on the job as a pizza delivery boy, he is failing in college and his superiors think he is lazy. Things go from bad to worse for Peter when his arachnid powers fail him.
Thanks to the influence of Dr. Connors (Dylan Baker), Peter is able to met Dr. Otto Octavius (Alfred Molina), a scientific genius in the field of fusion. Peter and Octavius develop a mentor/prodigy relationship, which is destroyed when a scientific experiment goes out of control. Octavius loses his wife and becomes a freak of mechanical nature when 6 metallic arms are fused into his spine. Losing his identity to his mechanical claws, the kindly Professor Octavius becomes the monstrous Doctor Octopus.
"Spider-Man 2" is a case study of abnormal psychology. This new film is motivated by human nature, not by a villain seeking world domination in a unique way. While most of the action sequences are worthy of the visualization of a comic book, it is Peter's confessionals to Aunt May and Mary Jane that forms the most emotional moments in the movie. Spidey's impotent actions are more of a psychological block than any physical ailment.
The heart of this motion picture comes form a labor of love from the cast, crew and Marvel Comics. Spider-Man creator Stan Lee saves another child from falling debris in an effective cameo. Sam Raimi regular, Bruce Campbell portrays a snobby theatre usher that may be the same character from the first movie. Willem Dafoe and Cliff Robertson return from the dead in two effective cameo appearances that represent the Tao of parenthood. Tobey McGuire, Kristen Dunst and James Franco create an empathic love triangle based on friendship and envy.
Both "Spider-Man" movies have three battles between Spidey and his antagonists. The best fight in the new movie features Doc Ock on a tower with Aunt May in his clutches. The most disappointing battle is the climatic nighttime show down that deals more with character meltdown than any war of the wills between the protagonists.
From the Spider-Manaholics to the comic book layman on the street,
"Spider-Man 2" succeeds as first rate entertainment. Director Sam Raimi adds just enough details to keep the comic book scholars guessing as to the fate of "Spider-Man 3," due in 2007. A.D. While this film is not as good as the predecessor, "Spider-Man 2" is one of the best movies for the summer of 2004.