Sony’s decision to reboot the Spider-Man movie franchise so soon after Sam Rami’s trilogy of films was damned with faint praise, which was the reaction to their first film, even though it made over $750,000,000 worldwide. Director Marc Webb’s second installment of The Amazing Spider-Man has also received a tangled web of criticism. I understand why people liked AMS 1 even though I feel it was an uninspired telling of the wall crawler’s exploits. This time around, despite some of its problems, I thoroughly enjoyed AMS 2.
Superheroes go through rotations of relishing the role of protector and second guessing their path due to the physical and emotional burden of their occupation. Spider-Man embraces his heroic responsibility more than most. Thumping on the bad guys while talking trash and web slinging across the New York skyline is also a hallmark of Spider-Man’s crime fighting exploits. Andrew Garfield perfectly portrayed these sentiments, thus capturing the essence of what makes Spidey so revered. The role fits him like a glove.
The love story of Peter Parker and Gwen Stacey is where the film shines best. Garfield and Emma Stone’s on screen chemistry, along with Webb’s direction, ardently conveyed the love that they have for each other. It’s a romance you want to succeed, which made me dread Gwen’s fate, even though I knew the result going in.
A film’s antagonist is just as important as its protagonist. Electro as the villain was good, but not great. Jamie Foxx did the best with what he had to work with. Pre-transformation, he is creepy and crazy instead of the sympathetic character he was made out to be. Once the electricity started flowing, he was ultimately a short circuit of captivation with a cheesy dialog and a contrived purpose. Electro did put New York City in some uncompromising predicaments, so I wouldn’t call him a throw-away villain like Malekith was in Thor: The Dark World. However, not once did I think “How is Spider-Man going to beat this guy?”
Paul Giamatti’s Rhino was used economically, but the actor’s talents were completely wasted. Yes, I know the film isn’t called “The Amazing Rhino” but having someone with the pedigree of Giamatti normally means his thespian contribution will bring something tangible to the table. This was not to be and they should have just put any Joe Blow in the mechanical suit because the result would have been the same. Better yet, they should’ve held off on Rhino until the next film.
The sympathetic villain approach succeeded with Harry Osborn, played by the talented Dane DeHaan, where it failed with Electro because he was a victim of circumstances beyond his control. A lot of time was focused on Osborn and his scenes often felt like its own film. This was probably done to help set up AMS 3 in 2016 and Sinister Six in 2018. Iron Man 2 received a lot of flak for focusing more on a movie that was two years away instead of its own adventure. Still, I think they found a good balance between plotting a course for the future while staying in the here and now.
One thing I absolutely hate is when they don’t show certain scenes from the trailer in the film. There are a couple of key moments that were omitted from the final cut and they produced intriguing questions that I was excited to have answered. I hope this is an issue that gets more and more attention so studios will stop this practice.
I don’t want to be overly critical of Sony since I really enjoyed the film, but it has a lot of problems. The clunky, rushed, and overstuffed storytelling took me out of my engrossed state almost one time too many and there are a lot of things you can nitpick at, such as New Yorkers flocking to watch the carnage in Times Square instead of running for their lives. However, The Amazing Spider-Man 2 is a fun theater experience with laugh out loud moments coupled with great action augmented by a superb performance from Andrew Garfield.