When the announcement was made a few years ago that there would be a new series of Spiderman movies, I was asking the same questions as everyone else. “Isn’t it it a little soon to give Spidey a reboot?“, “Who was asking for one anyway” and “Why the hell should I care about it?“. So when the first installment was released to less than positive reviews, my immediate thought was “Oh well, that’s that. They tried, can we move on now“, but what I didn’t know at the time was that despite the overwhelming sub-par reviews of The Amazing Spiderman, the movie would go on to make almost three quarters of a billion (with a “B”) dollars worldwide. Sooooo yeah, making the next installment was a no-brainer for the suits in Sony’s marketing department.
Despite the first installment’s overall failing trailers, for TASM2 did manage to pique my interests and gave me hope that this time around director Marc Webb would get it right.
This movie takes place presumably a few months after the end of the first one. Oscorp is in full spin control mode after one of it’s scientists, Dr. Curt Connors, tried to turn a large section of New York City’s population into lizard people. Gwen Stacy (Emma Stone) and Peter Parker (Andrew Garfield) are blissfully in love and dating despite Gwen’s dead father’s last request that Peter keep her out of harms way and not date her. As a result of breaking his promise to Gwen’s dad, Peter sees manifestations of the fallen police officer on a regular basis and finally caves in to his conscience and breaks up with Gwen right after the pair graduate from high school. Spiderman’s popularity continues to rise as he cleans the streets of New York foiling, capturing and humiliating any and all who would commit a crime in his fair city.
At one point early on in the movie, Spidey rescues a very nerdy introverted Oscorp technician named Max Dillon (Jamie Foxx) from being run over in a traffic accident. Turns out Max is obsessed with Spiderman, viewing him as his best friend the only one who sees him for who he truly is. Unfortunately for Spidey, when Max falls several hundred feet into a tank of mutated super-electric eels that turns him into Electro, a being that can conduct and control outrageous amounts of electricity. Electro now becomes fixated on destroying his one time idol (yeah, I know, just roll with it it’s a comic book movie).
In the meantime, Peter’s childhood friend from boarding school Harry Osborn (Dane DeHaan) has returned from traveling abroad to takeover Oscorp, but learns from his dying father that he is fated with the same crippling disease that will soon take his life. Harry learns that the one thing that could possibly cure him is venom from the genetically mutated spiders that Dr. Connors and Peter’s father Richard were working on, at Oscorp but these spiders were destroyed as part of an effort to prove that Oscorp is serious about righting the wrongs Dr. Connors perpetrated against the city. Harry concludes that the next best thing then is to get some blood from the person who clearly benefited from the spiders creation, Spiderman.
As you can read already there’s a shit-ton of stuff going on in this film, and I firmly believe that had the scope of this movie been narrowed just a bit, it could have been great–and by “great”, I mean Sam Raimi’s Spiderman 2–great. The heart of this movie much like the first one are the relationships of the core characters. This is where Marc Webb’s relationship expertise (i.e. 500 days of Summer) comes in and shines. The chemistry between Garfield and Stone is (no pun intended) amazing, and the story gives you plenty of time with them. Their scenes will push your emotions all over the place and ultimately are the backbone (pun intended, you’ll see) of the film. DeHaan’s portrayal of Harry Osborn will make you immediately forget that other guy who portrayed him in the Sam Raimi trilogy, but sadly, you’re only given two scenes with him and Peter together.
In my opinion had they cut out the Electro plot-line all together and given that screen time to Peter and Harry this movie (especially the ending) would have had much more weight.
Speaking of Electro, while I love Jamie Foxx, his character is nothing more than a bad version of Jim Carrey’s Riddler, and an excuse for some impressive but ultimately superfluous CG action sequences. The supporting cast of this movie does fine, but the scene with Sally Field and Andrew Garfield is gut-wrenching and wonderful to watch.
Another highlight of the film is the damn-near seamless CG. There is a Spidey swinging sequence towards the opening of the film that for a second convinced me that someone was actually swinging around the city with a GoPro attached to them. It was “Impressive, most impressive”. The Electro/Spidey battles were equally impressive, but when it came to close quarters combat with Harry (at no time is he referred to as The Green Goblin) the seams showed a little bit, but didn’t distract too much from the action.
The only thing left to comment on is the ginormous spoiler that takes place towards the end of the movie. I won’t spoil it for you, but I will say that I was surprised to see it and glad it was there showing us even more of Marc Webb’s emotional touch.
The Amazing Spider-Man 2 has a LOT of problems, but the performance of the core characters makes up for them and provides you with a very entertaining film that’s swings miles ahead of its first effort.
Go out, see it with confidence and enjoy.