The good news is that Spider-Man 2 is a major improvement over the original. Sam Raimi has polished his act and gotten rid of the silly plot devices there is maybe the odd trace lingering, like where we see Peter Parker trying to explain his reasons for not wanting to love Mary Jane into a payphone, and some of the earnest goody two-shoes mawkishness scenes with everybody on the subway fervently promising to keep Spider-Mans secret, the kid next door wishing for a hero but for the most part Spider-Man 2 is a considerable improvement.
The new team of writers which include novelist Michael Chabon, author of Wonder Boys (2000); Alfred Gough and Miles Millar, producers/creators of the Superman series Smallville (2001-11) and the screenwriters of Shanghai Noon (2000), Herbie: Fully Loaded (2005), The Mummy: Tomb of the Dragon Emperor (2008) and I Am Number Four (2011); and all polished into place by veteran screenwriter Alvin Sargent, author of films such as Paper Moon (1973), Ordinary People (1980), Nuts (1987) and Unfaithful (2002) have placed an exceptional script at Sam Raimis disposal. Indeed, this is one of the finest Soul of the Superhero scripts to ever grace cinema screens. The writing team get right inside Peter Parkers essential Clark Kent dilemma between the confidence and assurance of superherodom and between the clumsy, often painful stumblings of ordinary life. They dig into all the character conflicts of the comic-book Peters feeling that his duty to being a superhero is causing problems in real life; his unrequited love and denial of feelings for Mary Jane (the entire film could almost be constructed as a riposte to the surprising downer that was left hanging at the end of the first film); his guilt over Uncle Bens death; his desire not to allow Spider-Man be exploited by J. Jonah Jamesons sensationalism. Sam Raimi perhaps gives us a few too many scenes of Peter stumbling over his own feet, dropping his school books and the like but in terms of writing, the character is conducted with enormous strength. Indeed, the character of Spider-Man is so strongly developed that the central villain Dr Octopus almost takes a backseat to the other dramas at the forefront of the film.
The other person who has polished his act between this and the first film is special effects man John Dykstra, best known for Star Wars (1977). Dykstra conducts all the swoops, dives and camera acrobatics that he did in the first film and in ways that often make you cry out at the vertiginous virtuosity of it. The scenes with Spider-Man battling Dr Octopus as he rips off and throws bank vault doors and runs up and down the side of a building with Aunt May a hostage up is surely about as exciting as it is possible for a superheroic battle to get. Although, Sam Raimi later stages an equally breathtaking set-piece with Spider-Man and Dr Octopus fighting around the outside of an elevated train with Spidey ducking oncoming trains, being dragged down along the street and ducking in between cars, fighting in and out of the carriages between commuters, with Doc Ock holding hostages up in his claws and throwing them off as Spidey tries to catch them in webs, and the climactic overture where Spider-Man uses first his legs and then his entire body to halt the out-of-control train. (Although, real world physics kept quibbling in the back of ones mind during these scenes. Superheroic strength and invulnerability is one thing but this is an act that would almost certainly snap the spine of anyone with less than titanium-strength bone structure as though it were a twig). Nevertheless, Spider-Man 2 is almost completely satisfying and successful as a superhero film. It is all that the first film should have been.
Sam Raimi, Tobey Maguire, Kirsten Dunst and most of the other principal talents returned for the next film Spider-Man 3 (2007). Raimi, Maguire et al quit after that point, however the series was subsequently rebooted with The Amazing Spider-Man (2012) and The Amazing Spider-Man 2 (2014). We then received yet another reboot of the series that goes back to Peter Parkers high school years with Spider-Man: Homecoming (2017), featuring Tom Holland. Hollands Spider-Man also merged with the Marvel Cinematic Universe in Captain America: Civil War (2016). The upcoming Venom (2018) is a further spinoff of the Spider-Man universe.
Sam Raimis other genre films include:- the horror film The Evil Dead (1982) and its sequels The Evil Dead II (1987) and Army of Darkness (1992); the bizarre cartoonish crime drama Crimewave (1985); the dark superhero film Darkman (1990); the psychic thriller The Gift (2000); the horror film Drag Me to Hell (2009); and Oz: The Great and Powerful (2013). Raimi also co-wrote the Coen Brothers fantasy film The Hudsucker Proxy (1994) and produces the zombie film The Dead Dont Die (1989) under the pseudonym The Master Cylinder. Sam Raimi has also had some success with his Renaissance Pictures production company, who have been particularly enterprising in the field of television fantasy. Theatrically, Renaissance have produced the bizarre Lunatics: A Love Story (1991), John Woos American debut Hard Target (1993) and the Van Damme time-travelling action film Timecop (1993). On television, Renaissance have produced such genre works as the superhero series M.A.N.T.I.S. (1994-6), the smalltown Deviltry show American Gothic (1995) and then had enormous hits with the dual successes of the tongue-in-cheek revisitings of Greek myth and sword and sorcery with Hercules: The Legendary Journeys (1994-9) and Xena: Warrior Princess (1995-2001). These were followed by similar tongue-in-cheek series as Young Hercules (1998-2000), the futuristic Cleopatra 2525 (2000-2), the historical romp Jack of All Trades (2000-1) and the Evil Dead tv spinoff Ash vs Evil Dead (2015-8). Raimi has also formed the Ghost House Pictures production company and co-produced the likes of the American remake of The Grudge (2004), Boogeyman (2005), The Messengers (2007), Rise (2007), 30 Days of Night (2007), The Possession (2012), Evil Dead (2013), Poltergeist (2015), Dont Breathe (2016) and the tv series Legend of the Seeker (2008-10) and 13: Fear is Real (2009).