Spider-Man 2

Spider-Man 2 ★★★★½

Once again, this was definitely made by the same guy who made The Evil Dead movies.

I could see an honest argument for this as the greatest superhero movie ever made. With all the ~worldbuilding~ in tact, Raimi's given enough space to finally breathe. Every pitfall of the first installment is corrected, and the pacing is near flawless. Screw The Dark Knight - this is the structure that influenced every MCU film. (Although the sequel reveal is now moved to post-credits, but I like the reveal here better.) More importantly, Raimi's camerawork is perfection. It feels stylized in a way that's unique to only him, but works because it feels like a comic book. I think my biggest complaint with modern superhero movies is that the fight scenes are static and lack style, but even 15 years later, you can't say the same about Spider-Man 2.

I do think there's two small faults here that could make-or-break this for a lot of people. One, the relationship between Parker and MJ is...fairly underdeveloped. They have chemistry, but the conflict behind their will-they-won't-they? is undefined throughout the first 2 acts. While it ultimately ~gets there~ in the end, I wish it would've been more fleshed out. But they toned down Dunst's hair dye, so that's a step forward either way.

The other flaw is that Henry is as flat as a paper doll. I can't tell if the writing's at fault, or if it's all in Franco's static performance, but I just don't understand his motivations at all, and the fact that he constantly contradicts himself only makes it worse. He's there to essentially scream, "MY FATHER!!!" for 2 hours, but the whole time it begged the question, "Why, though?" Again, I think they stick the landing, particularly as a way to set up the third film, but his character still needed yeast to raise in this film, and he never really gets it here.

I'm not really a huge fan of comic books or the films, but there's something about these Spider-Man films that's just so endearing. I get why they sparked universal appeal for comics, and why its success put to other franchises into production. The problem is that it then led to a formula. Spider-Man 2 is free from any formula whatsoever, and this freedom gave it the exact room it needed to find its own voice. If anything else, that's why this film stands out not only from Raimi's own filmography, but from the entire genre writ large.

Now I'm hyped for Spider-Man 3, and even more hyped for the emo dance, if that was even possible.

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