After equal parts speculation and hype regarding 2012’s The Amazing Spider-Man and how it looked great but felt like an unnecessary reboot – only created to keep the franchise in the hands of Sony, what actually followed was a pretty competent movie. However, no film is perfect and when compared to qualities shown in other comic book movie adaptations of the year (Avengers Assemble & The Dark Knight Rises), The Amazing Spider-Man seemed to be pretty flawed when put under the microscope of an average Spiderfan. Unfortunately a good looking Spidey, amazing on screen chemistry and brilliant visual effects just couldn’t out-shadow the seemingly rushed plot and goofy Supervillain.
Director: Marc Webb
Staring: Andrew Garfield, Emma Stone, Jamie Foxx, Dane DeHaan, Colm Feore, Felicity Jones, Campbell Scott, Embeth Davidtz, Paul Giamatti & Sally Field
Run Time: 142 Minutes
Release Date: Out Now
Well it’s just two short years later and old Web Head has once again swung onto the big screen for his sequel, The Amazing Spider-Man 2. Not being a fan of the previous film, I’ll admit that the idea of a sequel didn’t excite me – “Give the rights back to Marvel and stick Spidey in The Avengers 2” I’d often state. Then when I heard there had be three of Spider-Man’s rouges confirmed for the flick, all I could think about was the flashbacks of being absolutely crushed when watching the over convoluted Spider-Man 3 back in 2007 and witnessing Toby Maguire’s Peter Parker in a dance scene. That film also used three main antagonists in New Goblin, Sandman and Venom, only one of which (in my opinion) was used to any decent effect. What followed on that dark cinema viewing was a terribly watered down adaptation of several Spider-Man storylines all rolled into one somehow successful cash cow, I feared that this newest iteration would do the same.
When The Amazing Spider-Man 2 came to cinemas I really wasn’t interested but during my play through of the tie-in Videogame and its bland storyline, I felt that I needed to check out the movie for continuity purposes… I was pleasantly surprised.
Following the events of the first movie, the city of New York is a different place. Former Lizard Curt Connors is behind bars having failed at his plans to turn all humans into reptiles like himself, the result of which has forced Oscorp to shut down any cross-species related projects. Life has also changed for Peter Parker (Andrew Garfield) too, after stopping Connors he has gained the admiration of the city and continues to swing around stopping criminals as his Superhero alter ego Spider-Man. Things have changed for the man under the mask too, Parker is still together with his long-term crush Gwen Stacy (Emma Stone) and together the pair have graduated High School. It’s not all sunshine & roses for young Peter though, still brooding over his parents walking out from him and now haunted by the death of Gwen’s Father Captain Stacy, his troubled mind starts to drift at inappropriate times.
There are big changes within Oscorp Industries too. Following the death of its President Norman Osborn, his young son Harry (Dane DeHaan) has been tasked with returning to the city to follow in his Father’s footsteps and assume control of the company. Unfortunately for the company’s new head, he’s learnt that he too has disease that claimed the life of his Father and at a much more accelerated level.
After a while of watching The Amazing Spider-Man 2, you get this distinct impression that Marc Webb’s intention was to pay homage to as many elements of the world of Spidey as possible. Much like Whedon’s Avengers Assemble, there’s is so much going on in one flick and the majority of it being a reference or nod to something.
Even the villains are set up like some kind of Spider-Man cartoon; early on you see the Web-Slinger giving chase to Aleksei Sytsevich (Paul Giamatti), an over the top comical Russian mobster who’s stolen a truck load of plutonium. While a pre-electrified Max Dillon (Jamie Fox) is some kind of nerdy stereotype, carrying around blueprints whilst talking to himself and often arguing with his own delusions before developing a giant man crush on Spider-Man.
At first this seems a bit too fantastical, with the truck chase resembling something out of a 90s cartoon. Luckily Marc Webb and his writers remembered to avoid this route early on and get to character development and emotion. Much like some of the greatest Spider-Man comics, this movie is equally dependant on Parker’s world and the people in it than it is the man in the costume… this is where the dynamic relationship between Stone & Garfield come in.
Sticking these two together once again just works, any viewer will be able to see that their chemistry sizzles. In fact without any actual action this would have made one heck of a romantic comedy, they play off of each other so well that it would be a shame to stop this dynamic in favour of a few actions scenes… so don’t worry because it doesn’t. Well that’s not fully accurate but after a point it does seem like every time Parker needs to suit up and swing away as Spider-Man, Gwen isn’t too far behind. Sometimes she’s there as a spectator, an assistant but rarely as a damsel in distress.
As with the previous movie, tweaks have been made once again to the traditional lore of the comics – not that this is a problem as there are so many different versions now. One of the biggest changes belong to the dynamic within the Osborn family. As you probably know from promotional materials in the movie’s build up, Harry is the focus of the Osborns over his Father Norman (long gone are the cackles of Willam Dafoe). This leads DeHaan’s Harry into a perfectly expectable relationship between himself and Parker, without the huge need to linger much on their back story. Dane DeHaan’s role as Harry Osborn really shines though too, from the role of broken child, to reunited friend and then into the transition of villain.
With regards to effects, they are obviously huge – this is a superhero flick after all and while we’re not quite at the age where CG is always going to be a convincing substitute (just watch the last hour of Man of Steel), but here they are solid enough. For every obvious 3D set up moment you’ll see about five more decent web-slinging or explosion scenes.
One of the biggest gripes among critics is the movie’s plot and how it’s not so much thin but stretched out. It’s true that there is way too much going on for one film, the vast majority of which is put in place to set up for not only the next movie but also it’s potential spin off films too. While this should seem jarring, I actually enjoyed just how much was going on and was rarely left feeling bored or underwhelmed. Again this falls back upon the terrific cast of actors chosen (even though there are a few that have been utilized poorly in this first outing).
For The Amazing Spider-Man 2’s flaws, its positives help turn this around into one of the biggest and best blockbusters you can go see in 2014. While it’s not quite Captain America: Winter Soldier, which showed us that a comic book adaptation can be clever and flashy all rolled into one… this is just, well it’s just fun.