I was no fan of 2012’s The Amazing Spider-Man. That film setup plot elements that just disappeared, created confusing elements and just felt rushed. This time around, everyone is a little older and a little wiser. Would they learn from past mistakes and make a better sequel, or make another turd? How many times is the sequel better than the first? Hit the jump to take a closer look as I review The Amazing Spider-Man 2.
This sequel has Peter Parker (Andrew Garfield) fighting the notion of being a hero, while protecting the woman he loves or letting her go. While his love for Gwen Stacy (Emma Stone) grows stronger, evil forces are gaining on him in the form of Oscorp’s many tentacles. Before it’s all over, we see the Green Goblin (Dane DeHaan), Electro (Jamie Foxx), and even Rhino (Paul Giamatti) battle Spider-Man.
One big theme at work in this second instalment is loss. In this movie, there’s such a large number of people that will loose jobs, die, or have died with a large emotional impact. This is, naturally, a tricky thing to undertake because that impact has to be felt in all the characters (including the audience). I was surprised at how well this was handled for one, and even more impressed at how well the impact of these changes manifested in the characters. I’m no stranger to loss, and it’s wonderful to see how some of this is handled with grace. Chiefly among them, the core story behind Peter Parker’s father.
Director Marc Webb was smart to finally create a more fleshed out version of Parker’s lineage story. What’s more, the connection seemS clever when in the context of Parker’s radioactive spider bite. I’m not going to give anything away, but one of the biggest disappointments in the first movie was how badly they handled this back story. Here it’s given a more prominent and central position in the story. And, the movie is better for it.
In a crowded field of superhero movies filled with shit blowing up, and people dying everywhere without intervention by the hero; this is a movie with a superhuman that was essentially founded on protecting people. Given all that, we see a refreshing amount of Spider-Man working hard to save lives in the carnage. Spidey does all sorts of clever things to keep people from getting hit, electrocuted, crushed, or otherwise dead. In the greater movement to showing more of a realistic impact of violence, this is a nice step back to the comics of old.
Some of the worries about this film have related to the sheer number of villans that we’d see. In trailers, it looked like at least three big villans here – but in reality the number of bad guys was really only two that Spidey had to deal with. Rhino is there, but he wasn’t really a big part of the story. I expect we’ll see much more of him in the next movie. These two Spider-Man films feel as if they’ve shot hundreds of hours of footage. Maybe we’ll see the Marc Webb “Special Projects” version of whatever Spider-Man movies they make. This is no small thing, considering this film is the longest of all Spidey pictures at 2 hours and 22 minutes.
Would this have been a very different movie if Mary-Jane Watson were included? (played by Shailene Woodley, who reportedly had her scenes cut). I do think so; This would absolutely have lessend the emotion impact of the core love story between Peter and Gwen in this movie. The strength of the bond and chemistry between these two was noted int he first movie, and really had a chance to shine in this one. Emma Stone’s small quips at Peter are perfect and sometimes even touching. Could you imagine Kristen Stewart as Mary-Jane instead? Apparently, this was possible.
As they say “If you got it, flaunt it”. Here that wonderful chemistry between Garfield and Stone is in full view. What’s more, Gwen is actually very helpful to Spider-Man. That’s not a surprise more than the fact that Parker is often portrayed as the scrappy underdog who has to figure things out on his own. That sort of impetuous energy surrounding Peter Parker is what we all identify with, especially when our backs are against the wall.
Dane DeHaan‘s Harry Osbourne is equal measure weird, and sinister. His inclusion (and possibly leading) of the Sinister Six would make some sense. I know that Webb filmed much more of The Green Goblin, but scaled back in order to get down to PG-13. That’s a shame, but I’m no fan of the character.
Perhaps the biggest thing I would dump on here is the lack of depth in the Electro / Max Dillon character. I have always thought Electro was a cool character mainly because he can almost disappear into electrical energy at will, and then appear in another place. Here, we see Electro doing it, but only when the story doesn’t require him to be in solid form. So, when it’s time for Spider-Man to fight Electro, he doesn’t get to use those cool skills. And, the leather suit? Where the hell did that come from? Even worse, the incredibly talented Jamie Foxx seems to have been given such a limited character for his considerable acting skills. With a bad guy made of electricity, one can never say if we’ll see him again.
This film is filled wall-to-wall with possible easter eggs and places the story can go. From the inclusion of Vulture’s wings to a possible use of Black Cat, to even the eventual Spider Slayer. Could we even see a story where Parker dies somehow? There are possibilities everywhere in this movie. Our own Michael Lee says this is all a detriment to the story, but I’m not so sure.
I liked this film. To be more accurate, I was more than pleasantly surprised by how much liked this movie. It’s interesting how expectations can temper the way you see a film. This should have been the first installment of this saga. The audience I saw this movie with clapped quite loudly. I was even expecting a standing ovation with this crowd. And, as a testament to how fast news travels (or how we’ve become accustomed to it), the vast majority of patrons in my theatre stayed for the after credits stuff.
The Amazing Spider-Man 2 stars Andrew Garfield, Emma Stone and Jamie Foxx. The movie opens today, May 2, 2014.