The initial reboot has come and gone, and now it’s time to see if this series can take off. So, does it swing?
The Amazing Spider-Man 2 takes place roughly a year after the events of the 2012 blockbuster. Peter Parker (Andrew Garfield) seems on top of the world, living the life of a superhero, graduating high school, and dating the beautiful and smart Gwen Stacy (Emma Stone). However, Peter is still haunted by his promise to her father at the end of the last movie: that he’d leave her to keep her safe. Throw in more questions about his parents and why they abandoned him as a child, the return of his childhood friend Harry Osborn (Dane DeHaan) and all the problems he’s having at OsCorp, and one obsessed fan (Jamie Foxx) who has a life changing accident, and the stage is set for one of Spider-Man’s toughest battles.
The storyline is decent enough, especially given how it adheres to the best elements of a good Spidey story: action, drama, humor, tragedy, and hope. Peter is determined to be a hero and live up to his responsibilities, but his love for Gwen and his fear of something happening to her causes him no end of angst. Gwen’s getting tired of it, and the question of whether she should stay with him or not hangs over her end of the plot. Then there’s Harry, who has inherited his father’s degenerative disease and seeks a cure, believing Spider-Man to be the key. And lastly, Max Dillion, who starts off as an obsessed fanatic of Spidey, but with his transformation into Electro leads him towards more destructive ends. And that all is happening at the same time, which, at least in the middle part of the movie, can make it feel cluttered. It never gets too much that you can’t follow, but it can feel like there should have been some editing to rearrange some scenes so that it flows smoother. Thankfully, this doesn’t detract from the story and its themes of consequences and hope.
Acting-wise, this film is stellar. Andrew Garfield, in this entry especially, IS Spider-Man, with all the angst, humor and awesome that fans have come to expect from years of comics. It helps that his onscreen chemistry with Emma Stone is so natural, allowing this to be not just a great Spidey movie, but a great Peter and Gwen story, which helps carry the film when the action has taken a break. Dane DeHaan also has some great moments with Garfield, which helps make the events around his version of Harry Osborn really tragic. Thankfully, DeHaan plays the younger Osborn with a little more menace and darkness than the previous films did, which makes his antagonist role in the film make sense. And as for Jamie Foxx? Well, he took one of the least interesting villains in Spider-Man’s rogues gallery and made him both sad and scary at the same time. When he shows up as Max Dillion, with a ridiculous comb-over and gap tooth, the way he lights up when Spidey tells him he’s not a nobody, you feel so sorry for him. Then you get to see his apartment, see what he imagines when he bottles up his anger at his co-workers, and you realize that this is a very damaged man. When he finally appears as Electro, he’s full-tilt insane and vengeful for perceived wrongs against him that he’s going to use the now-limitless potential of his new powers to wreak his vengeance.
Visually and music-wise, this film is (dare I say it?) amazing. Director Marc Webb manages to take advantage of the webslinger’s abilities, as well as those of his enemies in this film, to pull off some dazzling action sequences, with the fight in the middle of the film between Spidey and Electro in Times Square as a major highlight. And that’s also helped by Hans Zimmer working the soundtrack, giving this film a truly epic sound. Of particular note, the music during Electro’s scenes sounds so creepy and epic that it fits the performance and even helps enhance it. The action in this film is so well-done, although the climax could have gone a bit longer.
So, time to round off some faults, because no movie is perfect. Besides the clutter of the plot in the middle, there are some bits I had an issue with. First off, Paul Giamatti as the Rhino. There’s nothing wrong with his performance, especially since he seems to be having fun giving a hammy turn. It’s just that for all the hype of him in the trailer, he’s barely in the film. I hope he comes back for the inevitable sequel. Speaking of, this film has a lot of set-up in it for not just the sequel, but the announced spinoffs of Venom and The Sinister Six. I would have preferred a little more focus on the events of this film. And lastly, there’s actually an evil German mad scientist in this movie who is so over-the-top I was expecting him to yell “HAIL HYDRA!” at one point. The film was not helped by his performance.
The Amazing Spider-Man 2 really is amazing. Even with the issues I mentioned, it’s still an epic story that continues Peter Parker’s tale of growth, and the last scene before the credits had me clapping. Definitely worth a watch if you love superhero films, and especially if you’re a Spider-Man fan.
– Great acting from almost all the cast
– Amazing action sequences coupled with great romance scenes
– Awesome visual effects alongside great music
– Story can feel a little cluttered in the middle of the film
– Not enough Rhino
– Seriously, who thought the German mad scientist was a good idea?