By Clint Morris | July 1, 2004

With swelling cinema admission prices, audiences are going to be getting more and more picky when it comes to forking over the green for a film. It’ll no doubt soon be the case when no one – not even the regular moviewatcher – will be able to afford to see anything and everything at the multiplex. It’s great to see then that filmmakers like Sam Raimi know exactly what satisfies an audience and better still, gives them something that won’t have them walking out of theatres whining about the fifteen or so dollars they’ve just spent. In short, “Spider-Man 2” is worth every darn dollar.

The first Spider-Man film was such a success because it amiably combined an excellent storyline with some remarkable special effects. To boot, it also had a fantastic cast – predominantly, Tobey Maguire and Kirsten Dunst, giving life to Peter Parker / Spiderman, and his beloved, Mary-Jane Watson, respectively. Instead of just being an hour or two of wonky special effects with a plot that was written in dot form on the back of a handkerchief, it was executed like any of the great cinematic masterpieces from yesteryear and didn’t miss a beat.

“Spider-Man 2” picks up two years after the original film, with Peter Parker struggling to keep the facade of having dual personalities. But when an intelligent but over-ambitious Doctor, Doctor Otto Octavius (Alfred Molina) unintentionally transforms into a tentacled monster ready to wreak havoc on New York – Spidey’s forced to spring back into action.

At the same time, Parker’s also getting rather misty-eyed about his relationship with Mary-Jane who has announced her engagement to astronaut John Jameson (Daniel Gillies). She knows all too well that Parker’s got a thing for her but he won’t do anything about it. Meanwhile, Harry Osborne (James Franco), son of Norman Osborne/The Green Goblin, wants revenge on Spider-Man for apparently killing his father, which puts strain on his relationship with long-time friend Parker, who earns his bread and butter out of snapping the superhero in action.

Not since “The Empire Strikes Back” or “Indiana Jones and the Last Crusade” has a sequel been so darn satisfying. From the eye-popping action sequences to the impressive cast (Maguire, Dunst and Molina are fantastic, and J.K. Simmons is again a highlight as Daily Bugle newspaper editor J. Jonah Jameson), everything here works as well as it did first time around. Not for a minute does Raimi’s film feel like a rehash, if anything, with its exhaustive plot and welcome twists, it feels fresher than hour-old rye bread. The man has crafted one of the best adaptations of a comic-book series to date and his zest and enthusiasm for the character melts from the screen. Films don’t come any better.

“Spider-Man 3” couldn’t come any sooner.

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