Review by-Jarrett Leahy
As the many obligations that come with being Spider-Man begin to encroach more and more into his personal life, Peter Parker struggles to reconcile his feelings for his girlfriend and the promise he made to her father just before he died to keep her away from danger. To complicate things further, Peter is still trying to come to grips with and find answers as to why his parents abandoned him as a child. When a rekindled acquaintanceship with old friend Harry Osborn goes sour, unforeseen consequences begin to unfold. With the sudden emanation of Electro, a villain whose unprecedented powers far exceed that of Spider-Man, not only are Peter’s loved ones put in danger, but the whole city of New York.
Please allow me to open this review with an admission: I hated the first Amazing Spider-Man. HATED it! In fact, if you were to click on my Steamers section, you’d find The Amazing Spider-Man listed as one of my selections for 2012. The only reason I went to see The Amazing Spider-Man 2 was to put together this review for AmateurCinephile. To be completely honest, I walked into the theater for my matinee showing with every expectation of not liking it, and for the first hour or so there was little put up on screen that changed those feelings. Then something happened. I could literally feel my hesitancy and skepticism begin to melt away as I was sucked into a story that I must confess was at times overly exorbitant. By the end, though admittedly flawed, I walked out of the theater pleasantly surprised by what I saw.
Filled to the brim with bright, flashy CGI, The Amazing Spider-Man 2 is the visual antithesis of the ominous and brooding Dark Knight series. Some of these CGI laden sequences, like the battle scenes between Electro and Spider-Man, were quite impressive. Others, like the opening plane flight scene, were unfortunately a head scratching mess. Overall, I found that the good outweighed the bad when it came to film’s action sequences. However, if I can make one plea to all future directors of superhero films, please, PLEASE stop having citizen bystanders cheering behind meager metal guardings like lobotomized sacrificial lemmings. It’s an eye-rolling cliché that desperately needs to stop.
At times obnoxiously snarky, other times coming off like a hackneyed, grinning goon, Andrew Garfield remains the weak link of this franchise reboot. Luckily for us the powers that be were smart enough to bring in a gifted supporting cast to help make up for what Garfield lacks as a leading man. Front and center among these supporting players is Emma Stone. While Garfield might be playing the title role, it is in fact Stone who is the true star of The Amazing Spider-Man 2. Her radiant charisma and alluring magnetism on screen is intoxicating. You simply can’t take your eyes off of her. And when sharing scenes, Stone is able to bring out the best in Garfield thanks in large part to a sincere and charmingly loving chemistry shared between them. Despite my reservations about him, I will be the first to admit the real life relationship shared between these two young actors certainly helps them when on-screen together. With this being Stone’s last Spider-Man, it’s going to be a daunting task for Shailene Woodley to fill her immense shoes.
Other supporting standouts include 2-time Academy Award winner Sally Field and rising star Dane DeHaan. Field, who plays Peter’s loving guardian Aunt May, brings an assured strength and quiet fortitude to her role. DeHaan perfectly captures the outward brash yet inner turmoil of young billionaire, Harry Osborn while also fully embracing the frenetic and maniacal persona of his alter ego Green Goblin. In comparison, I found Jamie Foxx’s performance to be a mixed bag. His portrayal of obsessive loner Max Dillon was unfortunately a bit too hokey and exaggerated, but once transformed into Electro, I was surprised at how much I enjoyed Foxx’s snarling delivery.
The Amazing Spider-Man 2 suffers from the studio’s choice to stuff it with a superfluity of villains. Academy award nominee Paul Giamatti seemed to be treated like an afterthought, as his wacky performance of Aleksei Sytsevich felt as if it were some sort of last minute throw in. Saying that, I’m shocked to admit that, carried by Emma Stone’s beguiling performance, this second installment from director Marc Webb is a much more satisfactory movie experience than his disappointing first effort. It’s just a shame Stone won’t be around for Spider-Man 3 and 4. (that’s right, there are at least two more of these coming)-JL