When Sam Raimi’s Spider-Man 3 hit theaters in 2007, one of the biggest complaints viewers and critics alike shared was that the film was over saturated with villains. They attempted to juggle many plot threads and failed to execute them. Could the Marc Webb’s Amazing Spider-Man 2 suffer the same fate of Raimi’s Spider-Man 3?
The Amazing Spider-Man 2 opens with a more seasoned Spider-Man than we saw at the end of the original film. Peter Parker is really enjoying his duties as NYC’s friendly neighborhood hero, he’s grown strong and has really been honing his skills and abilities. Things are going great for Parker on both the hero front and in his relationship with Gwen Stacy. But when a new threat, in the form of Electro, emerges and an old friend from Peter’s childhood comes back home, Peter begins to realize that his enemies all have something in common. As much as he wants to be a normal college student, Spider-Man will have to learn to sacrifice his wants for the needs of his loved ones and his city.
Andrew Garfield is back for the second time as the Web Head and continues to make the role his own. The Amazing Spider-Man 2 as a movie is not without it’s problems but, The Amazing Spider-Man himself is easily the best part of the film. Garfield nails every line and emotion perfectly, it’s as if I was watching the comic book panels come to life on screen. You really feel for Peter Parker in some of the scenes and he will pull on your heart strings, this is all due to a terrific performance by Andrew Garfield. Emma Stone is also back as Peter’s girlfriend and delivers a wonderful performance. I long thought it might be odd to see Peter on screen with anyone besides M.J. but Emma Stone has you forgetting an on screen incarnation of M.J. has ever existed. The chemistry between Garfield and Stone on screen is untouchable, they’re relationship in real life really seems to help them come off as a believable couple in the film. The complexity of the relationship between them in the film is also a fun thread to see play out, seeing as how Peter promised Gwen’s father before he died that he wouldn’t see her anymore.
Sally Fields returns as Aunt May but she is given only a small handful of scenes, she delivers a solid performance none the less. Newcomers Jamie Fox and Dane Dehaan bring the villainy to the film and this is where the ride begins to get a little bumpy. Jamie Fox plays Max Dillon who later becomes Electro, a villain that honestly I’ve never found that interesting to begin with. Max Dillon is an electrician at Oscorp who is completely obsessed with Spider-man and he’s made out to be a very cartoonish character, with his oversized glasses and greasy combover. Fox’s Electro is very much a cookie cutter villain, he is predictable and delivers some cringe worthy one liners in an attempt at banter. Though some of the special effects in the scenes with Electro are pretty stunning, the villain as a whole really doesn’t land and I don’t really blame Jamie Fox for this but rather, the script.
Dane Dehaan gives a chilling performance as Harry Osborn and (MINOR SPOILER ALERT) later as the Green Goblin but, Harry’s story is rushed and almost seems shoehorned in to the film in order to make sense of later events. I think if the movie had just focused on Peter’s relationship with Harry and how it affect’s Spider-Man’s life, they could have left out Electro all together and it would have made for a very solid superhero flick. Another short cut story thread in the movie is Peter’s search for information on his parents. The trailers for The Amazing Spider-Man 2 lead you to believe a majority of the story will be about the Parker family. You see some sequences early on in the film involving his parents and I found them to be some of the most interesting bits in the movie, much to my surprise. It would of been great to see some more but, sadly it’s a forgotten plot point by the movie’s end.
The action sequences are one of the things that save the movie. Spider-Man moves very quickly and it is clear they wanted to turn up the his power level a couple of notches. Electro looks pretty badass on screen and the battles that occur between he and spider are reason enough alone to see the movie. The new Spidey suit is also drastically improved over the suit from the previous film. It looks like the perfect blend between old and new school and it’s without question the best Spider-Man suit delivered on screen so far.
The Amazing Spider-Man 2 wants to be something big and operatic that carries real weight and in some ways it succeeds. However, it does seem that juggling too many story threads and multiple villains at once becomes a bit of a problem yet again. I personally enjoyed The Amazing Spider-Man 2 more than the critics seem to have but, I do understand that the movie has some real plot holes and there were some cringe worthy lines in the script. I would like to say that this is only director Marc Webb’s 3rd crack a feature film and I think he’s doing a great job so far. With a few small changes I think the movie could have been bumped up from good to great but, Andrew Garfield and Emma Stone on screen together makes the movie something you’ll want to check out.
(All movie scores are based on a scale ranging from 1 to 10)