- Directed by Marc Webb
- April 18, 2014 (Mexico) / May 2, 2014 (US)
Peter Parker, still tormented by the death of George Stacy and haunted by the death of his Uncle Ben, must confront Electro when his old friend Harry Osborn returns from abroad.
The Amazing Spider-Man 2 is a superhero movie with heart. Despite all the villainy and some of the darkness though in in the end you are left feeling good. It uplifts your spirit in a fashion similar to the Christopher Reeve Superman films. It does not try to be endlessly dour or downbeat. It puts the hero through trials and tribulations and in the end he comes out stronger and on top.
That is not to say that The Amazing Spider-Man 2 (internationally known as The Amazing Spider-Man 2: Rise of Electro) is not without its share of tragedy and downbeat but in the end these things are overcome for a positive ending to the story. At least as positive as can be achieved.
Andrew Garfield returns as Peter Parker/Spider-Man. Peter must deal with his relationship with Gwen Stacy (Emma Stone). Or more accurately settle on whether or not he has a relationship with Gwen. He has apparently been moving back-and-forth on breaking up and then getting back together because of his promise to her father as well as his own fears of Gwen getting hurt. Get a pair Peter! Are you going to try and date someone that is supportive of you being a hero and loves you or are you going to date somebody that you can forget about should the baddies discover your secrets?
Gwen for her part is trying to stand by Peter and is supportive of him but that only carries her so far. She is at a bit of a crossroads following graduation. She has an opportunity to study in England which would give her a chance to get off the relationship rollercoaster or figure out a way to make it work. I cannot think of anybody that would try to hang on to a relationship that comes and goes like this one appears to do.
Enter into the mix Electro/Matt Dillon (Jamie Foxx) who is one of two villains in this film. Electro starts out as a lonely Oscorp Industries employee who is virtually invisible to society. He has no friends and no family and apparently no social life. His one positive interaction with Spider-Man begins an intense obsession that after an accident which grants him powers twists into anger and hatred. The character got a complete redesign here without a hint of the original look. His comic book look would not have translated at all to live action in a pure form, but I think some nods to it could have been achieved.
Dane DeHaan joins the cast as Peter’s old friend Harry Osborn who eventually becomes the Green Goblin (though he is never called that). Harry’s father Norman (Chris Cooper) dies in the film of a rare hereditary genetic disorder that he had spent years using his fortune to find a treatment for. How does this intersect with Peter? There were plans by Norman and the board of Oscorp to sell that research to an unidentified foreign government to be used in biological warfare. That research were the spiders that gave Peter his abilities. Oooo…
Harry being Norman’s son suffers from the same debilitating disease and he becomes obsessed with finding Spider-Man whom he believes holds the key to the cure. The research of Peter’s father (Campbell Scott) held the key to a treatment if not a cure for Norman and now Harry as well. The thing is Richard used his DNA in the spiders so whatever treatment is done will only work with him or those related to him.
It nicely covers how Peter got super abilities. At least if you do not think too hard about it. How did that spider bite lead to Peter being able to stick to walls and superstrength and a spider sense? Logically speaking it should have just made him a healthier person based on what they said. Then again this is a superhero movie so you should not think too much about much of anything.
We also get Paul Giamatti as Russian gangster Aleksei Sytsevich who eventually becomes the Rhino. He was certainly having fun up on screen with his brief time there. He went all hammy with his part. I would have loved to see him in a third movie.
Sally Field returns as Aunt May who is now studying to be a nurse for…reasons. I guess they wanted her to be more than Peter’s moral voice/conscience. This change does nothing for the story but gives the actress way more to do.
The loss of Uncle Ben is still felt by the characters. Though he was not in a significant chunk of the last film, he was an important presence to them, and his loss still resonates here. They have only just begun to figure out how to live without him. If you have ever lost someone you know that dealing with their death can take a great amount of time.
That is a lot to pack in a movie and I can certainly see where the complaints about there being too much going on in The Amazing Spider-Man 2 come from, but I myself did not feel there was too much going on. They were clearly trying to build up the world of Spider-Man after setting up the life of the character in the last film. There was a lot of set up, but I do not feel it hurt things. It made me want a third movie which we obviously never got. So much was teased that was never done.
I thought the action was great. There was excitement. It was frenetic and very much like portrayed in the comics. From the way Spidey bantered with his foes to the way the characters moved in action it felt like the comics come to life. They get the banter of the character right as well as keeping him the protector of New York City. He is the friendly neighborhood Spider-Man.
I agree that Garfield (not the cat but rather Andrew) looks too old to play Peter in high school. I think he was 31 or so when this movie came out. As I said before they should have moved the events of the story to college. It would have made things more believable and changed very little.
Anybody who is familiar with the comics knows the fate of the Gwen Stacy character. While it played out differently here it was no less tragic than presented in the pages of the comics. I knew it was coming when the set up occurred and I was still shocked. As originally portrayed in the comics here it also says that a hero cannot save everybody and that there is danger in the life that Peter leads.
As I said in the beginning this movie has hope. Not only does this movie have hope in it but it also has fun. It is a feel good superhero movie that lifts you up.
On the whole The Amazing Spider-Man 2 gets more right than it gets wrong. It is a fun and exciting superhero movie that set up much for a third film that never got made. If you can get past that then you will enjoy this film. I say watch it!