Peter Parker’s (Andrew Garfield) life as Spider-Man is going great. The people of New York City love him and he has a great relationship with his girlfriend, Gwen Stacy (Emma Stone). But when Electro (Jamie Foxx) appears and starts wrecking havoc across the city, Peter realizes that being Spider-Man comes with a cost. Meanwhile, he is haunted by the promise he made to Gwen’s father to keep her away from his life as Spider-Man. On top of fighting the crime of New York City and his relationship, he also has to deal with the sudden arrival of his old childhood friend Harry Osborn (Dane DeHaan). All of a sudden, being Spider-Man isn’t all it’s cracked up to be.
When I first saw the trailers for The Amazing Spider-Man 2, I thought it looked like Sony was trying to pack as much as they could into this movie. I was afraid it would become another Spider-Man 3 where there was just too many plot threads and villains for its own good. Although a lot was happening, The Amazing Spider-Man 2 manages to be fairly balanced and finally seems to have the character of Peter Parker down.
One of the biggest problems I had with Sam Raimi’s Spider-Man trilogy and The Amazing Spider-Man was they didn’t seem to understand Peter’s playfulness. He started out light and quip-y, but as the movies went on, he became more serious and his wise cracks went away. This time, his humor was present all through the movie and felt much more like the comic version fans know and love.
When I first saw Electro was going to be the villain in this film, I was pretty excited. In the previous movies, the villains Spider-Man fought were, as Joss Whedon described the Avengers’ power set, punchy. With the exception of Sandman, they all matched Peter as physical adversaries. Electro offers a different set of powers that would give Spider-Man a different type of challenge to overcome. They did a great job with him here. The movie spends a decent amount of time with Max Dillon before is transformation into the master of electricity. By doing so, we get to understand Max and sympathize with his character and what happened to him. It also helps greatly that Jamie Foxx did great with the part.
I have mentioned before how much a good score/soundtrack can add to the film. Every time Electro was about to unleash his powers, his theme would start quietly then get louder, climaxing when his powers were unleashed. It is something small, but it added to the tension and excitement for me and I just wanted to point it out.
Superhero movies have the difficult task of finding a good balance between having the hero in and out of costume. The Amazing Spider-Man 2 I think manages to find a good balance between Peter and Spider-Man. I never felt like there was more of a focus on one or the other. This worked well because it showed how much of an integral part Spider-Man is in Peter’s life.
The special effects were extremely well done. Electro looked great and you could almost feel like you were swinging through the New York City skyline with Spider-Man. My favorite effects were when time slowed down to show Spider-Man’s spider sense in action. Each movie has shown his spider sense slightly different each time, but this is probably my favorite portrayal of it.
There were times when I felt this movie tried to include too many characters and subplots, making it feel convoluted. Despite Electro being the central villain, they incorporated the Green Goblin into the mix. The Green Goblin doesn’t have much screen time and when he does arrive he isn’t explored much. In an attempt to set up characters for future movies, several characters appeared briefly, such as Alistair Smythe (who eventually becomes the Spider Slayer) and Felicia (who I’m assuming is Felicia Hardy, also known as Black Cat).
I was disappointed to see how Peter’s and Harry’s relationship was handled. Peter has a deep connection with the Osborns; Harry is Peter’s best friend and Norman sees Peter as the successful son he never had. It was made clear that they were childhood friends but their relationship wasn’t developed that well. It’s a shadow of what I think it should have been and a far cry from their relationship in the comics or even Sam Raimi’s Spider-Man trilogy. The Osborns’ decent into madness is supposed to be a story of tragedy, but there is no time to see them break down and empathize with Peter.
The Amazing Spider-Man 2 seems to have finally grasped Peter’s sense of humor, one of the flaws of the previous Spider-Man movies. Electro is a great villain for Spidey because it gives him a challenge other than physical strength to overcome, and Jamie Foxx plays the crap out of Electro. The special effects looked pretty amazing, especially when showcasing his spider sense. Several extra subplots and characters that seemed unnecessary were present and made the movie bloated. This caused the Green Goblin, one of Spider-Man’s greatest villains, to get very little screen time and be poorly developed. Peter’s relationship with Harry Osborn is one of the most important of the comics and unfortunately it does not receive the attention needed to really flesh it out. Despite being filled with unnecessary character introductions and subplots, The Amazing Spider-Man 2 is a great superhero story and at the very least never becomes slow or dull.
Cast & Crew
Marc Webb – Director
Alex Kurtzman – Screenplay and story
Roberto Orci – Screenplay and story
Jeff Pinkner – Screenplay and story
James Vanderbilt – Screenplay
Hans Zimmer – Composer
Pharrell Williams – Composer
Andrew Garfield – Peter Parker/Spider-Man
Emma Stone – Gwen Stacy
Jamie Foxx – Max Dillon/Electro
Sally Field – Aunty May
Dane DeHaan – Harry Osborn
Colm Feore – Donald Menken
Felicity Jones – Felicia
Paul Giamatti – Aleksei Sytsevich
Campbell Scott – Richard Parker
Embeth Davidtz – Mary Parker
Marton Csokas – Dr. Ashley Kafka
Louis Cancelmi – Man in Black Suit
Chris Cooper – Norman Osborn
BJ Novak – Alistair Smythe