To expand upon my quick thoughts in the video, Sam Raimi’s Spider-Man 2 is regarded as one of the best superhero films of all time and potentially the best live-action Spider-Man film ever made on sites such as Screenrant and WatchMojo. Spider-Man 2.1 expands upon the original cut by adding new and lengthening key scenes, making it more of an extended cut than a true director’s cut.
The story still follows Peter Parker/Spider-Man after being a hero for a few years and does a great job exploring the duality of the character. How someone in his position balances being a superhero with work, family, school, friends, and relationships. Those who know the comics, or even watched the first film, know that Peter is a genius. With his intelligence alone, he could easily be making a lot of money working for a major research company. At minimum, he could be a straight-A college student. Instead, he takes his heroic duties to heart and the toll it takes on his personal life. His grades are slipping, he can barely make rent, let alone spend time with friends and family. Seeing this struggle is what elevates the film and makes Peter a more relatable character because time management is something many people struggle with. Seeing how a superhero deals with that is fun to watch unfold.
As for the film’s villain, Otto Octavius aka Doctor Octopus or simply, “Doc Ock,” is a top-notch choice, with Alfred Molina turning in a terrific performance. His story is changed up somewhat from the comics, having just met Peter as a college student. In the comics, Octavius has known Peter for years and was one of his science teachers growing up. Somehow Raimi crams what should be a years-long relationship into one afternoon where these two geniuses get to know one another and become fast friends. When the villain turn happens, there are hints of horror when he awakens after his accident (Wilhelm screams included). This is right down Raimi’s alley as he started directing horror films (Evil Dead Trilogy) albeit here it is toned down for a PG-13 rating. With Doc Ock, we see Raimi once again playing with duality as the artificial intelligence in his tentacles are strongly persuading him to do whatever it takes to build his machine. Originally, they were designed to help him sustain his fusion reactor since human hands would get destroyed in the machine. This duality is very similar to Norman Osborne developing a split personality in the first film. Where his Green Goblin persona was causing him to commit his crimes.
One of my gripes with the first film was Raimi’s choice of organic web-shooters for Peter instead of the equipment he invented. Peter running out of webbing in the comics is a staple and without that, I felt like his character lost something. However, the topic of running out of webbing is interestingly addressed in this film through a mental block causing Peter’s abilities to malfunction leaving him in situations that feel straight out of the comic book. On the positive side, the cinematography is fantastic. Seeing Peter’s view of New York while he’s swinging around as Spider-Man is breathtaking. The score during these moments makes you feel as if you are up there with him. I give Spider-Man 2.1 a Perfect 10/10.