Peter Parker's romance with Mary Jane Watson (Kirsten Dunst) is progressing well and he's planning on asking her to marry him. Also on the up is New York city's romance with Spider-Man. They've finally realised, despite J. Jonah Jameson's constant character blackening efforts, that he is a good guy and a big celebration is being planned in order to present him with the keys to the city. There's even a staff photographer's job going on the Daily Bugle. Everything is looking just rosy!
Into this happy scene comes trouble in the shape of a mysterious black goo from space, Flint Marko (Thomas Hadden Church), Harry Osborn (James Franco) and Eddie Brock (Topher Grace). Marko is an escaped convict that the police suspect of being the real killer of Peter's uncle Ben. Harry Osborn, once Peter's best friend, has taken on the role of his late father as the New Goblin and is seeking vengeance on Peter for his father's death. Eddie Brock is just a photographer but he wants that job at the Daily Bugle and he doesn't mind breaking a few rules to get it.
While the police are chasing down Marko, he blunders into the middle of a nuclear experiment site and is transformed into The Sandman, a being with the ability to transmute his body into any shape and density that sand can take. That black goo is actually an alien symbiote and it latches onto Peter, physically changing his Spider-Man costume and endowing it with special powers. It also bonds with him psychically, feeding off his darker emotions. The symbiote enhances his dark side and when he finds out about the connection between Marko and his uncle Ben, he's incensed and seeks revenge. Eddie Brock? Well, he's just unlucky enough to be caught up in all of the above.
Personally, I really enjoyed it! Director Sam Raimi has done an excellent job of pulling all these threads together and Tobey Maguire is perfect as Peter Parker. Okay so the story isn't exactly true to the comic as Venom and The Sandman are from different tales but they did clash in a later one so it's not too far off the mark. Added to this, there's a good smattering of humour as well; the antics of the dark Peter Parker are so funny and there's still J. Jonah Jameson, who's always good for a laugh.
The special effects are amazing; you can see the difference in quality if you look at the first movie. The fact that the web-slinging Spider-Man is just some CGI is still noticeable but not so much and it's very much improved. Venom is an oily amorphous blob that can take many shapes and The Sandman has a huge repertoire of shapes and sizes to choose from and he can even fly. Then there's Harry Osborn and his arsenal of gadgets and bombs, all of which lead to an awful lot of very realistic looking onscreen collateral damage.
The only downside might be the fact that there is so much dependence on the storyline from the first movie, with only a little from the second one. If you haven't seen Spider-Man, then you might get a bit lost with the flashbacks to the circumstances surrounding Peter's uncle Ben's death. That aside, it still works very well and is a definite must-see for any Spidey fans.
Genre: Action, Adventure, Drama, Science-Fiction, Thriller
My Rating: 8/10