For the sequel, Maguire has more freedom in using his natural comedic instincts, but then also shows his range during the emotional scenes he has with either Aunt May, Mary Jane, or Harry. Even for the action, Raimi makes a point to have several sequences where the actor is not wearing his mask so that the audience can feel the character’s— and the actor’s—intensity. If Maguire weren’t nailing every single one of these facets, the film would simply not have worked.
For a movie released in 2004, it does show its age in places. Made at a time when CGI usually looked pretty bad, the film’s seams tend to show through. But still, you can tell Raimi is having fun with the new technology. And then there’s the batch of plot holes that crop up ones that would never fly today but again, they’re a product of their time and don’t ever affect the tone or betray the characters’ objectives.
As a master of economic action, Raimi reins in this massively ambitious endeavor so that even its flaws hardly ever matter—something only a few select movies have the rare privilege of benefitting from. Bigger and badder than anything that came before it, Spider-Man 2 ups the stakes to fit its hero’s dilemma, scales back the Kirsten Dunst, and goes full carte blanche with its madness to become perfectly entertaining and entirely innovative.