Itís great to be Spider-Man (Andrew Garfield). For Peter Parker, thereís no feeling quite like swinging between skyscrapers, embracing being the hero, and spending time with Gwen (Emma Stone). But being Spider-Man comes at a price: only Spider-Man can protect his fellow New Yorkers from the formidable villains that threaten the city. With the emergence of Electro (Jamie Foxx), Peter must confront a foe far more powerful than he. And as his old friend, Harry Osborn (Dane DeHaan), returns, Peter comes to realize that all of his enemies have one thing in common: OsCorp. (from Sony)
With the success of Marvel franchise films these days, it's no surprise that Sony and Marvel have been running full-steam ahead with their reboot of the Spider-Man series. Appropriately approaching it differently via the Amazing Spider-Man version of the iconic character, director Marc Webb and his cast of Spidey characters are back less than two years after the release of the first film in the new series with The Amazing Spider-Man 2.
For months, Marvel and Spidey fans alike have been naysaying the first The Amazing Spider-Man sequel, judging by promos, set photos and trailers that make the film appear as if all of the franchise's previous problems are being remade once again. For instance, The Amazing Spider-Man 2 features not one, not two, but three villains -- something that Spider-Man 3 was largely criticized for doing. While The Amazing Spider-Man 2 actually handles the three-villain count smartly, some of the concerns people had are indeed relevant, with the introduction of Harry Osborn feeling a little too expedited for the story's own good. However, one of the villains only appears in the film's first and last scenes, which works well for exemplifying Spider-Man's crime-fighting since the first movie ended, and then it sets things up for a triumphant finish at the end. In between is the third villain, and kind of the main one, Electro, played by Jamie Foxx. Foxx plays the character as an eccentric, nerdy fellow who's also a bit off his rocker. Max Dillon is an innocent, rather harmless guy who becomes the victim of an unfortunate accident that transforms him into a bit of a freak (Picture Megavolt from Darkwing Duck but less fun and more psychotic. Heck, they even share a similar pre-villain nerdy look). At first, Max is really just a victim of circumstance, but he lets his anger toward the way people treat him (which has gone from completely ignoring his existence to treating him like a monster) consume him and turn him into a vengeful villain. It's pretty cliche, but it works for this particular superhero film. Still, his presence alone makes the film teeter quite a bit too much between grounded and right-off-the-comic-book-page. But fear not, it never gets anywhere near the sheer horror that was titled Batman and Robin.
The strength of The Amazing Spider-Man 2 lies within its central cast and the relationship between Peter Parker and his girlfriend, Gwen Stacy. Andrew Garfield and Emma Stone have great chemistry together, and even when their on again/off again relationship could make the most cynical of viewers groan, the twosome just really make it work. It also means that when the story calls for some intense tugging of the heartstrings, you're going to want to keep some tissues at hand. (Andrew Garfield does emotion far more believably than the pathetic crying from Tobey Maguire's Parker.) Another bonus to the film is some of Spidey's webslinging around the city takes the viewer on a ride more than any other moment in a Spider-Man film, that I can recall. Webb seemed to really push how we see (and feel) Spidey slinging between buildings. It made for a surprisingly thrilling experience. Also, the action scenes were fun to watch. And because Spider-Man's web shooters are homemade and not organic in this series, it made for some fun and intriguing scenes to see him have to deal with what might happen if one of them gets compromised. It's scenes like these where Webb really gets to play up some comedic moments that Garfield does wonderfully.
Back to the supporting cast; acclaimed actor Jamie Foxx does the best he can with Max, but he lacks the everyday-man kind of personality that his character in a movie like Collateral possessed. Since Max isn't very relatable, it's tough to feel much sympathy for him when he lets his obsession for being noticed take over. Dane DeHaan takes on Harry Osborn in a very, very dark way in this series. Carrying a chip on his shoulder as having been outcast by his father at a young age, Harry seeks to do a better job at running Oscorp than his ailing father had, but DeHaan seems to just try way too hard to present his character as brooding sinisterly when the plot and script don't do much to develop it. He's bad without a lot of reasoning for why he is. And since the story is trying to develop Peter's relationship with Gwen and his investigation into his father's mysterious disappearance, and then the whole subplot involving Max becoming Electro, Harry really doesn't have enough time to develop efficiently. Perhaps if Webb had introduced Harry Osborn in the first film and then converted him into the Green Goblin in this film, there may have been more time to establish Harry's character and give the audience reason to care about him. Even Raimi's original trilogy gave time to develop a bond between Peter and Harry. On the other hand, while I've never been a fan of Sally Field in anything I've seen her in, I think she is great as Aunt May across both films thus far. A scene in particular where May and Peter discuss his father is especially excellent.
There's unfortunately a lot to nitpick and dissect about The Amazing Spider-Man 2 -- from the inconsistencies in Electro's abilities (and why his suit/shorts materialize and dematerialize with him?) to the laziness of rushing through the Goblin origin or the overly CG-driven effects at times. Still, the film is quite entertaining from start to finish, and while it does begin to feel a little long as it closes in at 2 and a half hours, you're likely to be left with the excitement of future Amazing Spider-Man tales.
The content is on par with previous Spider-Man movies, but I'd say it's less violent than the recent Captain America sequel (but still quite violent at times). Still, you can expect some shocking moments - from a brutal opening scene involving two people struggling with a man with a gun on a small airplane to the finale which has a couple deaths in it. Things like Electro and Green Goblin's transformation scenes may be pretty intense for some viewers as well. And when Electro fries a couple people in a lab, we see some burn marks on their faces and hands. Language is very mild with just a pair each of "h*ll" and "d*mn" (which also goes to prove how unneeded profanity is in movies), and a couple exclamations of "G-d."
The Amazing Spider-Man 2 is a flawed comic book movie, but a highly enjoyable one. Time will tell if repeat viewings hold up, but it's a pretty good follow-up to the 2012 reboot and it sets up a promising future for the beloved character. And don't bother staying for any post-credits scenes; the credits are interrupted by an out of place, underwhelming scene from X-Men: Days of Future Past, but there's nothing related to the Spider-Man world included.- John DiBiase (reviewed: 5/2/14)
Disclaimer: All reviews are based solely on the opinions of the reviewer. Most reviews are rated on how the reviewer enjoyed the film overall, not exclusively on content. However, if the content really affects the reviewer's opinion and experience of the film, it will definitely affect the reviewer's overall rating.
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