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The Amazing Spider-Man 2 – Movie Review

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The Amazing Spider-Man 2 – Movie Review

Rating: B (Good)

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There’s an attitude that exists where if a franchise creates a disappointing movie, there is little chance subsequent installments will be worth the wait. The idea is that the only way to salvage the series is to replace the director and start the whole thing anew, something which is very common place in Hollywood these days, especially in the superhero genre. The Amazing Spider-Man, itself a reboot of the Sam Raimi trilogy, was a downer of a picture with an unlikeable lead, little chemistry between the love interests and a dull villain. Despite director Marc Webb and the rest of the principal cast staying on board for the sequel, The Amazing Spider-Man 2 is a vast improvement. It fixes all of the issues I had with its predecessor and creates a fun comic book adventure worthy of its iconic hero. The first one had trouble differentiating itself from Raimi’s movies, but this new chapter actually becomes its own beast.

Peter Parker was difficult to sympathise with in the previous installment, his quips coming off as mean-spirited and Andrew Garfield’s performance lacking any charm or relatability. From the very first scene in The Amazing Spider-Man 2, the little jokes and one-liners are actually humourous and he’s immediately the character so popular on the comic book pages. While he struggled with the role the last time around, Garfield is a lot more confident, funny and likeable here. Whether he’s swinging through New York or simply living his day-to-day life, this Peter actually resembles somebody you would want to spend a day with. As a result, his chemistry with Emma Stone’s Gwen Stacy is much more endearing. Stone is, of course, a delight as Gwen and the repertoire between the two of them is very sweet. There’s some excellent back-and-forth banter that produces the necessary laughter, while also developing their relationship. This romance has a lot of genuine heart and emotion to it and both actors nicely portray their love for one another. The best scenes are probably those involving these two characters, rather than the big baddie battles. The Amazing Spider-Man 2 understands that you need protagonists worth caring about, otherwise the spectacle doesn’t thrill and excite as much.

Despite having to juggle two major villains, Marc Webb manages to carefully give each enough screen time to properly develop and become intimating threats. Electro has the classic Spider-Man villain origin of the regular chap who means well, but ultimately becomes an evil force through a freak accident. However, in an interesting twist, he is written as a fanboy for the tight-wearing superhero, which adds a interesting dimension to him. Jamie Foxx does well in playing his meek and obsessive side and his eventual hatred for Spider-Man is a natural change that the screenplay carefully glides towards. His electricity chewing powers are quite appropriate for a New York-set story and it creates real stakes, with Webb and the writers crafting both creative and almost frightening ways for his new abilities to harm helpless citizens. That it affects Spider-Man in regards to both his powers and his humanity is an important element in making Electro a worthy foe.

In bringing Harry Osborn back to the series, the filmmakers have taken an interesting approach to his origin and storyline. Savvy comic book fans will know the direction he takes, but much like Electro, it’s a gradual slide. There is a real sense of Harry and Peter being childhood friends from far back, with Garfield and Dane DeHaan successfully portraying good chums who haven’t seen each other in a long time. His desperation is strongly performed as well, with both the fear and anger coming through. It nicely ties into Peter’s conflict of wanting to help his friend, but uncertain in what direction to take. He has so many things going through his head, while also serving as a full-time superhero, and the struggles are well-handled by the screenwriters. Despite the occurrence of four major subplots in The Amazing Spider-Man 2, including further diving into how Peter lost his parents, the direction and screenplay do very well in giving the right amount of screen time to all of them. Peter’s other famous flame Mary Jane Watson was originally written into the script and actress Shailene Woodley had filmed scenes that were ultimately cut out of the final product. This was a smart decision as it would have been a little too much.

Marc Webb additionally steps up the action sequences for The Amazing Spider-Man 2. The opening, with Peter fighting the Rhino, is a fun bit of webbing and choreography. The effect of Spider-Man swinging through the city has been improved and the only times the 3D actually works, though the mostly uselessness of it and the darkened image don’t make the extra surcharge worthwhile. Spider-Man’s initial confrontation with Electro is exciting, while also successfully developing the characters. Webb only includes action scenes when they’re necessary and have an effect on the story and personalities, which is much appreciated. The climax ends the movie on a fantastic note, combining both Peter’s genetically acquired athletic abilities and his natural smarts in stopping his advisories. It has basically everything a Spider-Man fan would want from the final battle.

The Amazing Spider-Man 2 may not have the depth of Sam Raimi’s Spider-Man 2, but Marc Webb has managed to take his interpretation of the web-slinger in a direction where it doesn’t feel like the previous incarnation is peeking over his shoulder. Best of all, the characters are stronger and more rootable in this installment. While it doesn’t aspire to be anything more than a fun comic book movie, that’s certainly acceptable especially as we do get some strong character moments. It’s got enough fun scenes, good villains and a script carefully walking the line between silly and dramatic. Unlike the last film, I actually left this movie excited for where Webb and his team will take Spider-Man and what foes he will battle.

Review By: Stefan Ellison

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The Scene