In case you missed all the promotional stuff running for The Amazing Spider-Man 2, it is now out; and just like the first one, it is dividing critics everywhere. While it does continue to be a great role for Andrew Garfield, the movie feels too stuffed with unnecessary plot lines, but that does not necessarily mean it is bad.
We pick up on graduation day and Spider-Man is off saving the day while Gwen Stacy is delivering her speech that connects all too with her relationship with Peter Parker. Peter still feels guilty about the death of Gwen’s father in the previous film, and his promise to stay away from her in order to protect her is weighing down on him. This leads to a subsequent breakup, which results in Peter throwing himself into his role as savior of the city.
Around this time we meet Max, played by Jamie Foxx, who only wants to be noticed. After being saved by Spider-Man, he becomes completely obsessed, even imagining that they are best friends. One day at work, on his birthday no less, he is suffers from an accident and is transformed into Electro, the first of our villains.
The death of Norman Osborn brings Harry back into the mix. Peter’s best friend from his childhood has been gone for nearly a decade and now he gets put in charge of Oscorp while also succumbing to a genetic disease he inherited from his father. Of course, anybody who has read the comics knows he will soon become the Green Goblin, our other main villain.
Finally we have Peter wanting to discover what exactly happened to his parents, whom he’s felt abandoned by his entire life.
These are the major plot points in the movie, but each of them has several minor threads that we follow throughout the film, so it is easy to see that things get a bit muddled. All that would be necessary to make this film better would be to just trim the fat. We don’t need a Spider-Man movie to be nearly 2.5 hours. The reason for this is the fact that there are already two sequels announced for Spiderman. On top of that there is the Sinister Six film which was recently announced. which features 6 of Spidey’s main villains in one movie. If you thought that Spiderman 3 had too many villains, well, be prepared for this one.
Andrew Garfield again pulls off, in my opinion, a better Spider-Man than Tobey Maguire. He is snarky and witty while Spider-Man, but as Peter Parker he is awkward and relatable. We see the effects of his role weighing down on him. Without Gwen as his girl, he has nothing else to do other than to continue to save the city. His relationship with his Aunt too is strained. He knows she is hiding information about his parents, but she won’t tell him. Emma Stone is also great again as Gwen Stacy. Her chemistry with Garfield is completely visible and welcoming. We feel the passion they share, and it makes it so much harder when they break up.
Now for the villains: after initially setting up Electro as our main villain, we do not see him for most of the film. His initial attack in Times Square is a great scene with some exceptional special effects, but after this scene we do not really see him until the climatic battle. All of the previews set him up as this great villain, but we never get any real motives for his action, and he becomes another victim of the “multiple villain syndrome” that was ever prevalent in Spider-Man 3. Foxx does a great job at making Electro come alive, but due to the writing, his performance is pretty limited.
Dane DeHaan, on the other hand, inhabits The Green Goblin even better than James Franco did in Spider-Man 3. However, his transformation is so late in the film that it seems sort of after-the-fact. By the time he transforms he only has one real scene as the Goblin before the end of the film. While we do know he will hold a bigger role in the following films, it seems almost wasted, just like Foxx.
The trailers also tease Rhino, played by Paul Giamatti in an over-the-top Russian accent, in this film. However this is not the case. I won’t spoil anything, but don’t expect him to be a major focus of the film.
Aside from the writing issues, there is one really just terrible scene that has Peter Parker making a diagram of all of the connections between his parents and Oscorp, all with the Gone, Gone, Gone by Phillip Phillips playing in the background. It completely took away from the tone of the movie and just seemed like a contrived way to spotlight a hit-song. It felt very similar to the scene in the first one where Peter is learning to use his powers with a Coldplay song in the background.
But the most important thing about the film is that it is fun. Spider-Man films are always fun. The exhilarating web-swinging, the witty humor, and the ever-creative use of the webs as a tool to subdue enemies are all here. So you have to go in and not expect this film to have Oscar-worthy writing, but rather enjoy the ride. This film strays into some dark territories, if the comic books are any indicator, yet it is handled excellently by Marc Webb.
The Amazing Spider-Man 2 is a flawed, but wholly entertaining film that continues the saga of the new generation of the lovable superhero. Now we just have to wait 2 years for the third one.