Marc Webb and Andrew Garfield are back with a sequel to Sony’s reboot of their highly popular Spider-Man property. Webb has somehow managed to take all of the good established in the series reboot and build upon it in a way that makes The Amazing Spider-Man 2 a much bigger and sometimes even sluggish sequel that mostly continues with the tone and mood set forth in the original film, while also becoming a bit outlandish and old-fashioned, which will definitely rub most the wrong way. The Amazing Spider-Man 2 feels like a bloated old-school popcorn superhero flick lifted directly from the 90’s and that’s precisely why it’s such a delight to watch.
Some time has passed since everyday teenager Peter Parker (Andrew Garfield) has decided to use his new-found super-abilities for good, to protect the innocent people of New York City against any evil that may arise. Spider-Man is now more popular than ever, which means Peter must figure out how to manage his struggling personal life with Gwen Stacy (Emma Stone) and his professional life as the city’s popular web slinger.
Spider-Man’s problems are becoming even larger, as Harry Osborn (Dane DeHaan) takes over the powerful Oscorp company, which was home to the crazed doctor that turned into a lizard and now a brilliant, but slightly unstable engineer/electrician/loner named Max Dillon (Jamie Foxx) at first, but Electro once a freak accident causes his skin to glow a bright blue and his body to emit electricity unlike anything else in the world.
On top of Electro, Spider-Man must also figure out what he’s going to do with Harry Osborn, a man hungry to get rid of a family curse that’s slowly eating away at his body.
Meanwhile, Peter is trying to balance his complicated relationship with Gwen, while also trying to catchup with Harry and also figure out what exactly happened to his parents and why they left him and their research behind.
The Amazing Spider-Man 2 is a lot to take in. It’s a tall order that director Marc Webb somehow manages to cook up and deliver with a little bit of bravado to boot. This sequel might be much sillier than his reboot, which introduced us to a hip and new Peter Parker and a Spider-Man costume that most questioned and yet it somehow manages to pull itself up, bringing enough insanely awesome Spider-Man action to the table, while also showing us the best possible version of the Spider-Man character.
This IS what Spider-Man is all about. The scenes with Spider-Man protecting a kid from a pack of bullies or wisely cracking one-liners towards anyone of his numerous villains are what we’ve been waiting for ever since Sam Raimi took a stab at the character some time ago. This is Spider-Man fully realized from the comics and brought to life with a sense of charm and fun that blends together perfectly with star Andrew Garfield.
Garfield gets this new version of Peter Parker and he also very much so gets this ultimate form of Spider-Man. Together, he and Webb create a character that looks, sounds and acts exactly like the comic/cartoon or whatever source material you might have grown up on and waited patiently to make it into theaters.
Garfield’s mannerisms are Peter Parker from head-to-toe and while some might not like the approach for this version of Peter Parker, very few will argue his performance behind the mask, while he’s in the suit.
The Amazing Spider-Man 2 is a lengthy movie, full of fatty excess that could have been trimmed to save us some time and promotion for Sinister Six and/or The Amazing Spider-Man 3, but as is this film feels like a slow rising action flick from the 90’s, with a cartoonish story and an extreme level of action and impact. Sure, nothing is quite as serious as it should be and most of the plot is spoon-fed and literally revealed by the villains on-screen, with detailed instructions, but that’s the fun of it all.
Jamie Foxx‘s Electro is laughable to some degree, while Dane DeHaan‘s straight-faced Harry Osborn is creepy, but at least there’s that unstoppable chemistry between Andrew Garfield and Emma Stone. Both create such a strong and likable and believable relationship that acts as the anchor for an otherwise shaky film, when talking about the strength of its core characters and the plot in general.
Electro just sort of wonders about, while Harry changes his mind almost every ten minutes, but that’s okay, because at the core, this film is about Spider-Man and Peter Parker and what he’s dealing with at any given time and the rest is all background noise that makes way for some excellent set pieces.
I fully realize that saying the characters and a majority of the story takes a backseat for the set pieces shouldn’t come off as the highest of compliments, yet somehow it does, because Marc Webb understands what kind of Spider-Man movie he’s trying to make and it breaks down to the audience members either accepting that and altering expectations or sticking to their guns of what their perfect Spider-Man movie should be like and moving on from there.
This is why most are absolutely shitting all over this movie and this is also why I decided to wait a few days to run my review. I wanted to see the film twice and really let it soak in and decide if what I liked was simply nostalgic presentation or a film that is actually really good.
The Amazing Spider-Man 2 hits all of the right marks, while only occasionally fumbling. Webb’s direction is top-notch, proving that he’s definitely grown since the first movie in terms of framing the action and keeping everything light, exciting and fast.
The story takes a hit, but mostly because Sony has their fingers all over this one and have high hopes of expanding the universe and adding on in a big way. Spider-Man himself conquers quite a bit and grows substantially in this one, but he does so sometimes in the background and sometimes up front and in the center spotlight. Garfield gets this and plays on this very well, making every second of screen time shared with Emma Stone an absolute treat and the rest a very hit-or-miss bag.
Jamie Foxx and Dane DeHaan play very one-note characters and that hurts coming from two very talented actors, but it’s exactly what the film needs to keep the stronger focus on Peter Parker and the larger focus on the entire city and Spider-Man’s interactions with the people that populate it.
This film isn’t about Spider-Man versus Electro or Harry Osborn or even Rhino (played briefly, but way too over-the-top by Paul Giamatti). This film is about Peter Parker and Spider-Man and his growth as a man and his understanding of the powers placed upon him.
The Amazing Spider-Man 2 is an action-packed sequel that plays up on the high stakes and tones down on the numerous new characters introduced to the series. This is definitely a building block for what is to come and you’re either going to love the ride and be begging for more or asking to get off as soon as possible.
The Amazing Spider-Man 2 – 8/10