Andrew Garfield - Peter Parker/ Spider-Man
Emma Stone - Gwen Stacy
Jamie Foxx - Max Dillon/ Electro
Dane DeHaan - Harry Osborn/ Green Goblin
Colm Feore - Donald Menken
Paul Giamatti - Aleksei Sytsevich/ Rhino
Sally Field - Aunt May
Campbell Scott - Richard Parker
Chris Cooper - Norman Osborn
Genre - Action/Adventure/Fantasy/Comic Books
Running Time - 142 Minutes
Recently graduated from high school, Peter Parker (Andrew Garfield) is still struggling with not keeping his promise to Captain George Stacy (Denis Leary) when it comes to staying away from Gwen Stacy (Emma Stone). As the two struggle with their relationship, a disrespected employee of Oscorp named Max Dillon (Jamie Foxx) has a work accident, getting electrocuted and becoming Electro - a being who needs to absorb electricity to unleash on those who are in his way. When Spider-Man tries to stop him from hurting anyone, Electro - who was Spidey's biggest fan - sees him as a fraud and looks to destroy him. As this goes on, Peter's best friend Harry Osborn (Dane DeHaan) returns, now suffering from a fatal illness that he believes can be cured by Spider-Man's blood. When things don't go his way, Harry decides to suit up as the Green Goblin to get revenge on the Web Crawler as well.
After being a huge fan of the first two Sam Raimi films, 2002's SPIDER-MAN and 2004's SPIDER-MAN 2, I was deeply let down at the mess known as 2007's SPIDER-MAN 3. Too many characters, not enough focus, and the treatment of evil Spider-Man was pretty criminal. Then in 2012, Sony decided to reboot the franchise with Marc Webb, Andrew Garfield, and Emma Stone in THE AMAZING SPIDER-MAN. I still feel the reboot happened way too soon, but it was a decent effort and was better than SPIDER-MAN 3.
Now two years later, we have THE AMAZING SPIDER-MAN 2 - a sequel I was pretty worried about due to all the villains involved, something that most comic book films have trouble maintaining in a single film. And while it wasn't as bad as SPIDER-MAN 3, I still felt that too many characters pretty much brought this film down a couple of notches. However, this film is getting a ton of hate on the internet, which I don't fully agree with. Yes, it has massive issues. But it's not the BATMAN & ROBIN of the SPIDER-MAN franchise. But it is the BATMAN FOREVER though.
Let's get all the good stuff out of the way - the acting is pretty great in this sequel. Sorry Tobey Maguire fans, but Andrew Garfield is a better Peter Parker/Spider-Man than he ever was. Garfield was a bit awkward in the first film, but he's fully comfortable here - as he cracks jokes and just moves more like the comic book version of Spider-Man. By the way, the Spider-Man suit looks great here - probably the best it has ever looked on screen. Anyway, Garfield carries the film as well as he can, and his chemistry with Emma Stone is smoldering. Speaking of Stone, she does well as Gwen Stacy, not feeling so much like a damsel-in-distress girlfriend, but a smart and sexy sidekick for Spider-Man who helps him when he needs it the most. It makes you forgot how bad Kirsten Dunst was in those previous films. It's really the chemistry between Garfield and Stone that keeps the movie afloat.
If there's any other great performance, it's Dale DeHaan as Harry Osborn. I'll get to how his character is treated later, but DeHaan is fantastic as the desperate best friend of Peter Parker. It's really unfair to compare him to James Franco since Franco had three films to build up his character. But DeHaan is a definitely highlight, being both sympathetic and sinister as the film progresses. As for Jamie Foxx, he's good as Electro, but the script doesn't really do him justice. Still, I didn't hate his performance and he made the most of it. All the other actors, like Sally Field and Paul Giamatti, were fine in their limited roles.
I also enjoyed the action and the special effects. I felt the sequel had more exciting action sequences, with Spider-Man really feeling like his comic book counterpart as he swings through the city and battles bad guys. The Times Square sequence was pretty cool, and I enjoyed the final battles with both Green Goblin and Electro. I thought Goblin looked interesting, but at least it was better than that stupid helmet from the first Raimi installment. And Electro looked like a hipster Mr. Manhattan from WATCHMEN, but it didn't bug me. I thought the electricity marks on his skin was a nice touch. And the Rhino suit from the Ultimate Spider-Man version looked cool in the short time we see it. I had no issues with the visual presentation. I thought Marc Webb handled the action much better here than he did in the first film.
My major gripe with the sequel was that the screenplay wasn't solid enough to be good. Sure, some of the dialogue was funny and the story had some good moments - like the dubstep paranoia going through Electro's brain, Spidey's wisecracks [which felt really true to the comics], and the love story aspects between Peter and Gwen. But there was just too much going on here, and none of it really resonated once it was over. It's hard to watch a film that has to balance three villains, a love story, the mystery with Peter's parents, Harry Osborn's disease, and other stuff. There's no real focus in THE AMAZING SPIDER-MAN 2, except for planning for a Sinister Six film - when in actuality, this sequel should have been its self-contained story while building stuff for the future in a more subtle, logical way.
Any superhero film with multiple villains is a tough sell. Some films can do it right, while others just get overwhelmed by the amount of characters. THE AMAZING SPIDER-MAN 2 is no SPIDER-MAN 3. The villains are better used here than they were in that film. Yet, this is a sequel where one main villain should have been the focus, while setting up potential villains for the future. Rhino, who is used for maybe ten minutes, is a good use for the character. You have him appear, give him a reason to become a supervillain against Spider-Man, and save the main confrontation for a later film. I had no issue with how Rhino was used. But Electro and Green Goblin got the shaft in my opinion.
Electro reminded me of The Riddler from BATMAN FOREVER - a nerdy scientist type who admired the hero of the film, until they gained enough power to make them feel they were better than the hero. The only problem is that The Riddler was a more developed character than Electro because he was given more screentime. I thought the scenes with Electro were good, but I wish there were more of them. I wish he had been the sole villain and given a stronger arc. Same with Green Goblin, who is given the Venom treatment of SPIDER-MAN 3. I get that you want to set up arcs for future sequels and spin-offs. But the Goblin himself gets shoehorned into the last 10-15 minutes of the film and doesn't do a whole lot. The Harry Osborn disease thing is interesting and deserved a slow build, rather than a rush job just for fan service. The reason why the Peter-Harry dynamic worked in the comics and in the Raimi series is because it was slowly built up for a potential confrontation. You understood both sides and why they would end up becoming rivals. You never get that in this film. It's as if we're supposed to know already that they're buddies and that eventually it would all go downhill from there. I think Harry should have been a minor character in the first film, a bigger character in this film to set up his future as the Goblin, and then in the third film, make him the main villain. I don't get why it's so hard to do that.
It doesn't help the situation when the hero himself is going through multiple threads. His love life is a roller coaster, which takes up a lot of the film's time. Then we have the whole "What really happened to Peter's parents?" subplot that finally gets a resolution. Then his arc with Harry just feels forced and rushed. There's too much going on, all trying to share equal screen time, which meant less focus and less characterization for the villains. It felt like watching 2 films at once, which is a shame since both films had the potential to be great if they weren't crammed into a 150 minute movie.
THE AMAZING SPIDER-MAN 2 really felt like an advertisement for what's to come, rather than what's currently happening. It's great Sony has a plan for this franchise. But it shouldn't feel forced. It just felt like things had to happen in order for these spinoffs to take place, rather than these elements coming across naturally. There's a good story here, if only they had focused on Electro and kept the other subplots to a minimum that would tease you enough to want to watch the next installment.
THE FINAL HOWL
People either love or hate THE AMAZING SPIDER-MAN 2. The sequel to the reboot has issues when it comes to cramming too much story and too many villains to set up future installments. But I enjoyed some of the humor, the special effects, the action sequences, and even the acting for the most part. So I guess I'm sort of torn about how I feel about this sequel. I liked it, but I didn't love it. But I don't think it's as terrible as many have reviewed it to be. I've seen a lot worse comic book movies than this one. But Hollywood needs to learn that less is more. Yes we want all these beloved villains to appear in these films as some sort of fan service. But we also want good films as well. So if we can't have a certain villain, knowing it'll bring down the quality of the film, then it's a sacrifice we'll just have to live with. I wish THE AMAZING SPIDER-MAN 2 followed that philosophy. Still as a Spider-Man fan, I'll probably see what comes after. I guess that's the sacrifice I'll just have to live with.