The Amazing Spider-Man 2 is now in theaters, and this time around Marc Webb and his cast have produced a much more entertaining and enjoyable take on the iconic web slinger from NYC. The whole teen angst feel from the first Amazing Spider-Man film is completely gone, making the sequel feel more like an adult comic book movie, with a more mature story revolving around Peter’s inner conflict of being the city’s beacon of hope, as well as a twenty-something kid trying to balance his regular life, with his super life.
At its core there’s still a heavy love story between Peter and Gwen, but this time around it feels more genuine and real, which sets up for a few emotional scenes that hammer home Peter’s internal conflict, giving The Amazing Spider-Man 2 more character than its predecessor. With that being said, it still suffers from a few issues, namely Harry Osborn, but overall it packs an entertaining punch.
The film opens with Peter doing what he does best, web slinging through the streets of NYC to help the city take down a robbery in progress that has led to a violent car chase involving semis and New York’s finest. It’s immediately made clear that the action level has been ramped up in the sequel upon viewing Spider-Man’s attempt to thwart the hijacking of volatile Oscorp property by Aleksei Sytsevich, who is played by Paul Giamatti, who eventually becomes a modified version of Rhino from the comic books.
The intensity of the action is bolstered by the awesome cinematography, which utilizes the perfect amounts of slow-motion shots, and bullet-time-like effects, to give this action scene a feeling that it came right out of a comic book’s pages. In fact, when coupled with the stellar use of 3D, many of the big time action set pieces will literally pull you into the world of The Amazing Spider-Man 2 and take you on a thrill ride unlike many comic book films to come before it. More than a few times I felt myself completely engrossed in the action thanks to the amazing special effects and 3D, which in turn helped me to buy into the film’s world and characters. I found myself pulling for Peter, Gwen, and the good guys, and I genuinely wanted to let out a few cheers on more than a few occasions thanks to the killer comic book style action featured in The Amazing Spider-Man 2.
Speaking of Peter and Gwen, these two characters definitely steal the show thanks to the acting abilities of Andrew Garfield and Emma Stone. Garfield has definitely cemented himself as the definitive live-action Spider-Man thanks to his mastery of the character. He pulls off a brooding and troubled Peter Parker perfectly, while also offering a more than believable take on Spider-Man himself. Spider-Man’s snarky humor is put on display more than a few times, and Garfield nails this aspect of the character like a seasoned pro. He’s effective at delivering both funny lines, and emotionally charged ones, which really helps to immerse yourself in the characters of Peter Parker and Spider-Man. You want him to succeed in everything he does, and you’ll feel pain for him when he suffers, which is a result of Andrew Garfield’s stellar acting skills.
Emma Stone’s Gwen Stacy is also charming and believable thanks to her undeniable beauty and competent acting skills. Gwen isn’t your typical damsel in distress, and Stone does a great job at getting this across to the audience. She never feels just like a piece of eye candy, which can happen sometimes to the leading love interests of comic book superheroes. Her intelligence is put on display to make her somewhat equal to Peter’s amazing physical abilities, reinforcing the fact that she’s not just a plot device to have Spider-Man come in to save the day. The chemistry between these two characters is also quite palpable, which may have to do with the fact that Garfield and Stone are an item in real life. This definitely shows in the more tender scenes sprinkled throughout The Amazing Spider-Man 2, and it also bolsters the gravity of a very tragic scene that these two love birds share.
Again, this movie is essentially about the duty Peter Parker has to the city of New York as Spider-Man, as well as his duty to himself as a super power infused young adult looking to balance his extraordinarily life with his ordinary one. To help showcase this motif Marc Webb and his writing team threw more than a few super villains at him to test his resolve. I thought Jaime Foxx did a fine job as Max Dillon/Electro, with the latter being an interesting villain that probably could’ve used more screen time to really flesh out his motivations. He essentially goes from an insecure genius who loves Spider-Man, to a maniacal Dr. Manhattan that wants to be famous like Spider-Man, and therefore starts to hate Spider-Man. This transition from mild mannered nerd to violent villain just felt a bit rushed, but overall Electro provided a great foil for Spider-Man, and the fight scenes between these two are visual masterpieces.
Harry Osborn is also thrown into the mix in The Amazing Spider-Man 2, but I must say that Dane DeHaan just never feels like the right choice for this iconic Spider-Man comic book character. There’s nothing wrong with being a short and tiny man, but Dane’s diminutive stature just never offers any believability in him as a super villain. He’s brought into the film abruptly, and his bond with Peter is explained in one short scene, so it never feels like they were ever great friends. This makes Osborn’s metamorphosis into the Green Goblin, Spider-Man’s arch nemesis, feel weak and disingenuous to the source material, so the pain Peter feels by Harry’s betrayal isn’t as real as it should have been. This is unfortunate because a major turning point in Peter Parker’s life is influenced by the Green Goblin, but this tragic moment felt a bit forced thanks to the character of Harry Osborn not truly being fleshed out properly.
After watching The Amazing Spider-Man I didn’t have high hopes for the rebooted Spidey movie franchise, but after watching the sequel, I can now say that I’ve fully bought into Andrew Garfield as Spider-Man, and Marc Webb’s vision of the character. The Amazing Spider-Man 2 packs in an engaging narrative surrounded by brilliant special effects, and high octane comic book action that looks eye meltingly awesome in 3D. A few scenes and minor plot threads definitely feel forced, and two of the three super villains (Rhino is saved for a great lead in scene for the inevitable third movie at the end) didn’t truly get enough screen time to feel like fully developed characters, but overall the passionate love story between Peter and Gwen coupled with his internal struggle of being Spider-Man make for a very entertaining, if not slightly long movie watching experience. It definitely captured the mantra of Spider-Man, which is the concept of one having great power, but also having great responsibilities due to that power.
If you had concerns after seeing the original I can ensure you that the sequel makes up for the sins of its big brother. You should definitely go and see The Amazing Spider-Man 2 in theaters, and if your stomach can handle it you should see it in 3D.
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Review Statement: The author of this review paid for a ticket to a Real3D screening of the film for the purposes of this review.