I may not be a comic book guy, but I’ve always had a soft spot for Spider-Man. He’s my favorite superhero between Marvel and DC. I grew up with the original Sam Raimi trilogy starring Toby Maguire, and still love them to this day despite how silly people say it is. When the time came for the franchise to switch gears, despite my initial skepticism, I ended up enjoying Marc Webb’s The Amazing Spider-Man. It was a good change of pace from the more lighthearted films prior.
So, I left that film just as excited for the film’s sequel as I’m sure everyone else was. Little did everyone realize how split we would all be. Similar to Man of Steel, this film was a love or hate situation. The film was actually so controversial and complex in nature that it indirectly paved the way for a third reboot. Question is: which side of the fence are you on? Buckle up people, because you’ll either want to hug me or punch me in the face after this.
The Amazing Spider-Man 2 is the sequel to the reboot based on the eponymous Marvel comic series. Upon graduating high school, Peter Parker is confronted with difficult decisions. He regrettably ends his relationship with Gwen Stacey in order to both honor her dead father’s wishes and to keep her safe from his double life. Meanwhile, new villains begin to emerge. One is a Spidey fanatic who after a freak accident becomes Electro. The other is Harry Osborne (or the Green Goblin), Peter’s childhood friend who just lost his father and is dying of a condition.
There are actually several plot-points in this movie, but those are the two that exist at the forefront. This truth contributes to the film’s biggest problem.
There are a lot of aspects to Amazing Spider-Man 2 that people ended up not liking, but the origin of all of those problems stem from the film’s writing. This film’s greatest sin is taking on too many plot-points at once. There’s a laundry list of things going on here from the on-and-off relationship with Peter and Gwen, both of their college plans, Harry’s attempt to find a cure, Electro’s entire origin story, the mystery of Peter’s parents being spies, guilt involving Gwen’s father’s death, and the list goes on.
Then there are subplots that get skimmed over entirely; the most notorious being this film’s execution of the Rhino. Yep, the Rhino is in this movie, or more like cameos. His amount of screen time clocks in at three minutes at most, only half of which he is actually the Rhino. But there are other things like that such as Peter’s job at the Daily Bugle which amounts only to a two brief text exchange between Peter and a faceless James Jonah Jameson.
It’s clear that this film has way too much going on in just one film. Depending on how you are able to handle this and whether you can forgive the unfinished subplots in favor of the ones that are addressed will dictate whether you’ll enjoy this film or not. Some can’t get passed this and will condemn it as a mess. Others such as myself won’t be too bothered.
Don’t get me wrong, I will concede that this movie is a welter in terms of structure. The way I see it, though, the stuff that is really good and fun often outweigh those rushed, or unresolved, or even silly moments. Even baring what I described in mind, this film knows what it’s truly about and focuses on those two plot-points well. The relationship between Peter and Gwen is captivating as it should be, and the villains’ story arcs are well-realized.
Enough of the writing, though. I’m sure everyone will agree that the action was certainly the best part of the movie. When it comes to Spider-Man movies, the CG effects tend to be easily implemented due to the fact that Spider-Man’s costume is easy to animate realistically. That same thing applies here, as CG Spidey looks identical to live-action Spidey and therefore makes those action scenes look all the better. Other effects such as Electro’s face also look fantastic.
My favorite action scene though is during the first fight with Electro. The fight itself was pretty awesome, but there’s this one point where Spider-Man is knocked backwards and then enters spider-sense. Similar to the school fight from the 2001 Spider-Man movie, everything is frozen while the camera observes his surroundings. He isolates every situation where a civilian is in danger, and acts upon each by using his multi-directional web. It’s touches like that which make the film worth watching.
The acting is fantastic as you would expect. Almost everyone returns from the previous film, and they do just as good here as they did there. Andrew Garfield has proven himself as a worthy Spider-Man. People like to say he plays a great Spider-Man but not as good a Peter Parker as Toby Maguire did, but I still find Garfield’s sells those moments of him being technically savvy. Emma Stone as Gwen Stacey is awesome in this movie as well. The chemistry she and Peter have is simply beautiful. Besides that, she manages pretty amazing feats that rival even that of our main hero.
Jamie Foxx plays Max Dillon otherwise known as Electro. I really liked him during the movie. You really feel for him during the beginning when he’s a pushover who no one notices, looking up to Spider-Man as the only thing that gives him joy. Once his accident occurs, he doesn’t automatically change like some villains do. He’s the same guy but more dangerous. The transformation of Electro from idol to full-on villain, a scene accompanied by music, is one of the best scenes in the movie.
Harry Osborne is played by Dane DeHaan who becomes the Green Goblin. Barring the fact that this movie takes liberties with the Goblin story from the comics, I liked this take on the character. He’s a good kid that is met with difficult circumstances all of his life. There is tragedy in his character when he is dying, he realizes a cure for lays within Spider-Man’s blood, and he begs Peter to get Spider-Man to give him blood. When this doesn’t happen, only then does he antagonize Spider-Man. I thought that was some pretty good motivation. He as the Goblin was okay, but that has more to do with his limited time on screen.
Lastly, the soundtrack was really good. The sound is very distinct. The best way to describe it is rock and dub step meets orchestral. A heavy use of bass and drums with fittingly electric sounds join in harmonious unison with violins, pianos and horns. It sets the mood of most scenes by being both fast-paced and triumphant. It is slow and mysterious when it needs to be, and somber at the correct moments. My favorite track was, again, from the first Electro fight.
This is going to be without a doubt the most controversial film on this list to review. I know it isn’t exactly popular to like this movie, but I’m not going to conform because others don’t like it. I had fun watching this, even with its shortcomings. Like I said the stuff that is really good outweigh the bad aspects.
I would recommend The Amazing Spider-Man 2 to those who have seen the first one and somehow haven’t seen this one yet. As long as you approach this film with a neutral mindset and are prepared for the idea that you may not like it, you won’t be disappointed.
(By the way, I also like Spider-Man 3. There I said it!)
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