Dir: Marc Webb
Cast: Andrew Garfield, Emma Stone, Jamie Foxx, Dane DeHaan, Colm Feore, Sally Field, Felicity Jones, Paul Giamatti and Chris Cooper
Synopsis: Peter Parker runs the gauntlet as the mysterious company Oscorp sends up a slew of supervillains against him, impacting on his life.
*Reviewer Note: This will be a spoiler free review. Although one plot point from the first film (the fate of a character) will be mentioned at the beginning.*
*Reviewer Note #2: There is no end credits scene. However, there is a mid-credits scene that has nothing to do with The Amazing Spider-Man 2. The scene is a short and fast-forwarded scene from X-Men: Days of Future Past. And no, there is no plan to put Spider-Man and the X-Men together. The scene is a deal between Sony and Fox.
This is because the director Marc Webb has a contract with Fox to make another film for them after the first Amazing Spider-Man movie, but instead of doing so, he signed to do TASM2. This was allowed by Fox, IF Sony would agree to promote their next X-Men movie, for free. So there you go.*
Marc Webb’s rebooted Spider-Man was a mixed bag. There was a lot to like – Garfield’s take on Spider-Man, for one – but also plenty of things that were unsure and to be skeptical about. The sequel will likely make people feel the same way. There’s great action and performances, but there’s also an obvious feeling to expand the Spider-Man universe that derails the film at points.
The movie starts off in an interesting way. It shows us the accident that befalls on Peter’s parents, with Campbell Scott’s Richard Parker being the focal point. It also shows us how far Oscorp will go to keep their secrets as well. Fast forward and we see Peter (Garfield) still haunted by the death of Gwen’s father and the promise he failed to keep (to protect his daughter by leaving her alone). In some ways he’s moved on, graduating high school, enjoying his relationship with Gwen (Stone) and embracing the role of being New York’s protector.
There’s a lot going on in Amazing Spider-Man 2, and sadly it doesn’t always come together. There are four arcs going on and all of them come and go which make the movie feel unorganized. There is Peter and Gwen’s strained relationship, Peter still trying to figure our the secret behind his parents leaving him and dying, Harry Osborn (DeHaan) coming back to see his dying father (Chris Cooper), finding out a family secret and restarting his friendship with Peter, who haven’t seen each other since they were kids. Finally, Max Dillon becoming Electro and wanting all the power in New York.
Like, I said, a lot going on. But even with a running time of 142 minutes it’s strange that some small stuff –that is mention– is left our. Peter might be in college even though we never see him in class. He’s starting to submit pictures to the Daily Bugle, but he never steps through the doors of that publication. There are even mentions of Jameson. It might be nit-picky but it is one of the problems of the movie. I know they are setting up for future sequels and spin-offs, but it would have been nice to see just little bits of this. Also, something I won’t spoil but there is a moment near the end that is utterly jarring that I can’t even imagine why they made that decision.
Webb has no problem tapping into the superhero’s humor and warmth. But, when you strip away all of the problems, you have the Spider-Man we want to see. He’s the people’s hero, and he relishes being the good guy. Spider-Man is incredibly funny, although sometimes the reliance on humor has weird and maybe bad timing. One of them is his banter with Aleksei Sytsevich (Giamatti) rather than just stopping him he play around with him. But this is at least forgivable because the scene is kind of funny and there is some sense of excitement to the scene.
Speaking of Giamatti, his Aleskei character is a bit too hammy for the movie. His Russian mobster character isn’t really nothing more than a glorified cameo and leaves little to be desired, which is a same since Giamatti is such a great actor.
The film’s main villain is Max Dillon (Foxx) who later becomes Electro. Max is a lonely, nerdy and completely unappreciated Oscorp engineer who wants to be noticed. He then becomes a Spidey fanatic after being rescued by him early in the movie. The movie does try to make feel sympathy for Max, and a part of us does. However, his arc isn’t that interesting either. Foxx’ performance is a bit to cheesy, even for the movie. And I know some people are comparing him to Arnold Schwarzenegger’s Mr. Freeze in Batman & Robin. I think that’s a bit much but I guess I can’t blame people for thinking that.
Although the promotional materials have shown Electro to be the main villain, he’s never established as that. His motivations seem sound at first. He wants to be noticed and when idol Spider-Man comes in to save the day, he feels betrayed. Although his fight with Spider-Man in Time Square (I’ll get to that in a bit) is a great action sequence that’s as far as the character will go. Later on he just becomes Harry’s lackey. Also, adding to the cheesiness of the character, during the Times Square scene, dubstep plays and at first it sounds like it’s voices in his head but you find out it’s a song, which would have been better if they went with the voices.
DeHaan is creepy yet appealing as Harry Osborn. The friendship between Peter and Harry feels pushed but when the two are together they do feel like old friends. The arc with Harry is interesting and different from Raimi version but I don’t see why they didn’t decide to just make Harry the villain. DeHaan’s scene with Chris Cooper who plays Norman is eerie, emotional and cold and it’s a shame that they didn’t share more scenes together. Harry’s Green Goblin – which they never call him, in case you’re wondering – is (again) different from Raimi’s and it will most likely divide the fans. I didn’t mind this version but it did feel a bit rushed, and knowing that Sony is trying to expand the universe, including the Sinister Six spinoff, it does kind of die down the excitement of seeing him.
Leads Andrew Garfield and Emma Stone continue to be the highlight of the rebooted universe. Their chemistry is fantastic and probably the saving grace for the movie that is already crowded. If people weren’t convinced that Garfield is a good Peter Parker/Spider-Man they hopefully will with this outing. Stone does have more to do this time around and even gets in on some of the action which is nice to see.
As for the action, the standout sequence does have to be Times Square scene. Despite the Electro dustep soundtrack, it showcases Spider-Man’s set of powers and his spider-sense, which I don’t recall being in the first movie. The final fight is okay, it does show Electro’s powers but it comes a little too late in the movie to care.
All in all, The Amazing Spider-Man 2 is a bit too crowded for its own good. Garfield and Stone are the best things about the movie, which is weird thing to say considering we are watching a Spider-Man movie. The movie is horrible and thankfully it doesn’t feel like another Spider-Man 3. But it is kind of a let down considering that all the movie is a set up for future movies.
The Amazing Spider-Man 2
3.5 out of 5