Darren Carver-Balsiger’s review published on Letterboxd:
Transcending its predecessor in every way, Spider-Man 2 is Marvel's Dark Knight, pushing its superhero story to deeper and richer territory. This is a film of real hardship, in a personal sense of internal struggle and in a wider sense as Peter Parker deals with poverty and loss. This is stuff the MCU will never explore.
Life's consequences play a big part in Spider-Man 2, as letting people down and struggling with love comes to forefront of the film. Peter struggles to be who he wants or needs to be. This is a film of choice, being certain in who you are and choosing to be a hero. The purpose of heroes in society is to represent hope and symbolise the very best of us. The community cherishes Spider-Man in the film's most touching scene of symbolism and this reminds us of the inherent good within people, something crucial to the arc of both Peter Parker and the villain Doc Ock. Doc Ock and Peter both fight to reclaim their identity, and the film exists in an emotionally nuanced space, letting inner conflicts define the film more than the external fight scenes.
Spider-Man 2 is dense with subplots and characters, but they cohesively move forward as the film explores the same themes with each. It's about defining who we are by our choices and realising there's bigger things in the world than just us. Sam Raimi keeps a tight control on things, even as his genre preferences switch between scenes. Doc Ock, especially in one scene set in a hospital, is utilised for horror purposes. The humour is also placed so well, something Raimi perfected in his Evil Dead days. Then there's the final shot, of Mary Jane looking on, taking a risk, life's mistakes hers to make. Superhero mastery.