Sam Raimi's follow-up to SPIDER-MAN finds Peter Parker (Tobey Maguire) struggling to balance his everyday life with his alter ego as the web-slinging superhero. Still carrying the burden of keeping his crime-fighting identity from those closest to him--including his longtime love Mary Jane Watson (Kirsten Dunst), his best friend Harry Osborn (James Franco), and his doting Aunt May (Rosemary Harris)--Parker must also face off against a dangerous new menace, Dr. Otto Octavius (Alfred Molina), a scientist driven mad by experiments involving powerful mechanical arms. When the deranged Octavius (AKA Doc Ock) forms an alliance with the vengeful Osborn, who blames Spider-Man for the death of his father, the wall-crawling hero is in for his biggest battle yet.With SPIDER-MAN 2, Raimi retains--and improves on--all of the elements that made the first film so good, including an excellent story (crafted, in part, by acclaimed novelist Michael Chabon), tight pacing, and stunning special effects. Parker's internal conflicts are even greater than before, and Maguire adds emotional depth to every scene. Returning actors Dunst, Franco, Harris, and J.K. Simmons (once again portraying Parker's tough-talking boss, J. Jonah Jameson) are all pitch-perfect in their roles, and, as the once-noble Octavius, Molina is remarkable, relishing his villainous lines, while giving the character a surprisingly vulnerable side. Throughout the movie, Raimi expertly balances drama and humor with dynamic action sequences, making SPIDER-MAN 2 feel more like a continuation of the original tale rather than an obligatory sequel. For a Hollywood movie, that's a real feat.