The Amazing Spider-Man 2 (2014) - Theatrical Release May 4, 2014 17:12:04 GMT -5
Post by Erik Rupp on May 4, 2014 17:12:04 GMT -5
Surprise, surprise - we have a winner here!
Forget about all of the negative reviews and comments (well, forget most of them, anyway), because The Amazing Spider-Man 2 is a very good comic book superhero movie.
No, this isn't a movie that sets a new standard for comic book superhero movies, but it is a far more satisfying and entertaining movie than, say, last year's Man Of Steel. The one gripe going in was that The Amazing Spider-Man 2 was following Sam Raimi's Spider-Man 3 in terms of villain overload (and in that movie it was overloaded with villains, cramming in too much story and too many complications for two hours and fifteen minutes). In this movie there is really only one main villain, and that is Electro (aka Max Dillon, played by Jamie Foxx). Yes, the Green Goblin and the Rhino make appearances, but the focus of the story (beyond the character issues and personal drama that carries much of the movie) is on Electro.
But that conflict comes after Peter Parker has dealt with his personal demons, which include the death of his uncle, his abandonment by his parents, and the death of NYPD Captain George Stacy and the promise Peter made to Captain Stacy regarding his daughter, Gwen. Peter promised to stay away from Gwen despite his feelings for her, a promise made to keep her safe from Peter's enemies (or, more accurately, Spider-Man's enemies). Peter has a hard time keeping that promise (Gwen is a great girlfriend - not only is she beautiful, but she's smart and caring, too), but he also finds out that breaking that promise is hard on him as well. Peter is haunted by the thought of Captain Stacy watching him, knowing that Peter broke his promise. This creates a dilemma for Peter, and some wonderful character moments that are deeper than those you would find in the average superhero movie. You could say that The Amazing Spider-Man 2 is really a love story and a story about the consequences of our actions just as much as it is a superhero movie.
There is, however, plenty of action and excitement in The Amazing Spider-Man 2 (let's just call it TASM2 for short), and the action scenes have been ratcheted up to near epic proportions by director Marc Webb and screenwriters Alex Kurtzman, Roberto Orci, and Jeff Pinkner. No, this isn't The Avengers kind of action, but it's much bigger than what we saw in TASM1. But the nice thing is that while the action is bigger, it doesn't feel forced. It feels natural to the story.
And at the heart of the story is Oscorp, the multi billion dollar company founded and owned by Norman Osborn, father to Peter Parker's childhood friend, Harry Osborn. Oscorp is so big and so powerful that they have a security force that rivals the C.IA. in resources and abilities. And as it turns out, Oscorp is at the heart of the disappearance (and deaths) of Richard and Mary Parker, and the accidental creation of Spider-Man's newest enemy, Electro. Electro is set up as the culmination of all the bad things that have happened to a social misfit, electrical engineer Max Dillon. Dillon is socially awkward, and, as he notes, invisible to most people. Most people don't remember him if they even pay attention to him in the first place (and most people don't). Dillon's obsession with Spider-Man as his personal hero after being saved by the web slinger is twisted into hatred when Spidey has to try and stop Dillon from attacking a strong contingent of police in Times Square. From there Spider-Man has to deal with an opponent with powers very different and, in many ways, far greater than his own.
Yes, the Green Goblin does appear towards the end of the movie, and the Rhino makes an appearance as well, but the Goblin's appearance is mainly to push the plot forward and to set up events in future Spider-Man movies. The Rhino's appearance is just a brief teaser giving viewers an idea of what to expect in the future. Neither of these appearances take anything away or distract from the main conflict with Electro.
The nice thing about TASM2 is that the tone is right. Spider-Man is a wisecracking hero, just like in the comic books (Sam Raimi's Spider-Man was a little more restrained with the smartass one liners), and Andrew Garfield does a much better job of capturing the post high school Peter Parker than did Tobey Maguire in Raimi's Spidey movies. We do miss J. Jonah Jameson here to a point (although he is mentioned by name), but cramming in another character would have been a bit much, so that's not a problem. Emma Stone is, again, excellent as Gwen Stacy, and is a step up from Kirsten Dunst as Mary Jane Watson (although Dunst does get a lot of unfair criticism for her performances in the previous Spidey movies).
The movie's visuals are spectacular. This is definitely a BIG SCREEN movie. The effects are effective (not just special), and the action really works.
Ultimately, TASM2 is an improvement over TASM1, and is a significantly better movie than Raimi's Spider-Man 3. Well done.