The Amazing Spider-Man 2 (Sony/Columbia)
Rated PG-13 for sequences of sci-fi action/violence.
Starring Andrew Garfield, Emma Stone, Jamie Foxx, Dane DeHaan, Colm Feore, Felicity Jones, Paul Giamatti, Sally Field, Embeth Davidtz, Campbell Scott, Marton Csokas, Louis Cancelmi, Max Charles, B.J. Novak, Sarah Gadon, Chris Cooper, Martin Sheen.
Written by Alex Kurtzman, Roberto Orci, Jeff Pinkner and James Vanderbilt, based on the comic books by Stan Lee and Steve Ditko.
Directed by Marc Webb.
Too soon? Apparently not, since the good folks at Sony decided four years was enough between Sam Raimi’s Spider-Man trilogy and a new one. The main problem with proximity is the tendency to compare ad nauseum the differences between trilogies, especially now that the second installment of the new series is out with The Amazing Spider-Man 2.
Andrew Garfield is back as the web-slinging superhero (aka Peter Parker), still dating the beautiful Gwen Stacy (Emma Stone), despite his promise to her dying father (Denis Leary) to stay away from her at the end of the 2012 series reboot. Haunted by the image of Mr. Stacy’s disapproving stare, Peter is dumped by his girlfriend when he is unable to let go of the promise. With spare time on his hands, Peter is able to swoop around New York City saving all kinds of hapless crime victims, including a nerdy electrical engineer named Max (Jamie Foxx), who happens to work for the Oscorp corporation, and is also a huge Spider-Man fan. Oscorp is owned by the mysterious Norman Osborn (Chris Cooper), who is dying from a unique disease. Norman’s son Harry (Dane DeHaan) inherits control of Oscorp right about the same time Max is nearly shocked to death in a vat of electric eels, and is transformed into “Electro,” capable of controlling the elements through electricity.
Harry and Peter are childhood friends and have a nice little reunion, but things go south when Harry starts to suffer from the same congenital disease that killed his dad. Harry also discovers that Peter’s dad Richard (Campbell Scott) was working on a cure for his disease right before he was killed in a plane crash. Obsessed with finding this cure, Harry recruits Electro to track down Spider-Man, because he thinks Spidey’s blood will make him whole. Eventually, Harry locates a serum developed by Richard Parker deep within the hidden Oscorp vaults that he thinks will cure him. When the serum turns Harry into a green villain, the story is set up for a big, climactic battle between Spider-Man, Electro and the “villain-debutante” Green Goblin. At risk are several lives, including Gwen – who has reunited with Peter and is planning on moving to England to attend Oxford.
The Amazing Spider-Man 2 is not a bad movie, but suffers from an overload of a lot (and I do mean a LOT) of moving parts and subplots going on.
First, what works: They finally got Spider-Man himself right. Instead of the moody, mousy Tobey Maguire, Andrew Garfield (despite his sometimes Zoolander-ish brooding) provides a true campy smart aleck that the superhero was intended to be. It is based on a comic book, and Garfield (along with some top-notch CG artists) really captures the essence of a regular guy dealing with the burden of being a hero. One other thing I liked about TASM2 was that despite the inclusion of three super-villains (Electro, Green Goblin and Paul Giamatti as Rhino – in a brief cameo), they don't triple-team Spidey at the same time, which is something the Raimi versions relied on all too much.
What didn’t work is trying to cram too much backstory and the aforementioned subplots into a movie that runs just under 2&1/2 hours. There is too much time spent with Peter and Gwen’s “are-they-or-aren’t-they-staying-together” relationship, with many fake-out endings. It got to be like reading a teenager’s Twitter feed as she’s fighting with her boyfriend. I have no complaints with the adorable Emma Stone in the role – it’s just that TASM2 felt less than amazing and more like too much drama.
One other complaint I have with TASM2 is Green Goblin, which despite being a vast improvement from the Willem Dafoe/Raimi “Power Rangers” version – still comes across as reliable on too much dinner-theater-style campy cosmetic makeup. Again, its source material is a comic book, but you’d think that an upgrade on Spidey himself warrants a little more effort with GG.
Again, TASM2 is not a bad movie, and is full of some incredible special effects and visual treats. The movie does further the trilogy along, but one can only hope for a much better finale.
What to know what Jenniffer thinks of the movie? Check out her review here!