If there is one thing that “The Amazing Spider-Man” did, it brought the Internet the adorableness that is Andrew Garfield and Emma Stone. Regardless of how good that first movie was, there is no doubt that the two stars are absolutely perfect while on screen together. If anything, they are almost too cute, bordering on dreamy.
The majority of “The Amazing Spider-Man 2” focuses on Peter Parker (Garfield) and Gwen Stacy’s (Stone) relationship. Peter is still dealing with the guilt over Gwen’s father’s death (Denis Leary, who pops up every now and then in ghostly fashion) and his last wish, asking Peter to leave Gwen out of his super hero life.
When a super hero movie hits the 142 minute mark, it is safe to assume that there is a lot of plot in the mix. This movie is filthy with it. The majority of it works and isn’t just filler. There are plenty of subplots involving Peter’s Aunt May (a very sweet Sally Field) and even a revealing backstory with Peter’s parents (Campbell Scott and Embeth Davidtz).
Basically, if it involves Peter or Gwen, it’s good.
But once Max Dillon (Jaime Foxx) shows up, things get wobbly. Max is a nerdy loner that works at Oscorp, a massive corporation that employs Gwen (how does a recent high school graduate get that gig?) and is now owned by Harry Osborne (Dane DeHaan). An accident even more insanely preposterous than a kid getting bit by a radioactive spider happens and next thing you know, Max Dillon becomes the evil super villain Electro.
The plot waters get muddier after Harry has a conversation with his father, Norman (a make-up heavy Chris Cooper), that is so poorly written and constructed that eyeballs will be rolling down cinema stairs. It essentially attempts to put all of Harry’s Daddy Issues out on the table in five minutes and it’s completely forced.
Therein lies the main issue with “The Amazing Spider-Man 2”. While it is okay to have a handful of bad guys going after Spidey, having two villain origin stories crammed in to one movie is fairly tedious. In Harry’s case, him becoming the evil Green Goblin almost seems like fait accompli.
There is some exposition involving Harry and Oscorp’s board members that is fairly predictable and Max/Electro goes from face to heel far too quickly, complete with a short stay in the local loony bin. None of it makes for effective bad guys because there is absolutely no reason to sympathize with them. These are bad guys just because the movie needed bad guys, nothing more, nothing less.
The director, Marc Webb, really nails every single shot. This is the most comic-book looking comic book movie yet. There are shots of Spider-Man swinging through Manhattan that are simply breathtaking. The use of slow-motion and “bullet time” is a tired special effect, but it is used to perfection in this movie.
A handful of shots are awe-inspiring, bringing splash pages of comics to life. There is one shot of Spider-Man swinging towards a building with electricity and lightning shooting from it that is so fantastic and amazing to look at that it fully makes the movie worthwhile. It is so grand in scope and size that Spider-Man actually looks like a tiny spider swinging headfirst into danger.
Andrew Garfield is a movie star. There really cannot be any doubting it at this point. He is charming and doesn’t use his good looks to get by. He is neurotic and jittery and just won’t stand there, looking pretty, in hopes that he becomes endearing. The screenplay, loaded with brilliant, perfect Spider-Man-style quips and verbal jabs, is perfectly delivered by Garfield. He is the snarky yet heroic Spider-Man, essentially everything that Tobey Maguire was not as the same character.
Garfield and Emma Stone should consider making movies together as much as possible. Simply put, they are adorable. It takes about five seconds to fall in love with the two of them and when they are on screen together, this movie is perfect. Stone is much more than a damsel in distress and plays several key parts in helping Spidey/Peter out on every level.
At a time when female characters can be very one dimensional, Emma Stone’s Gwen Stacy brings everything you could hope for in a movie such as this one.
If there is one giant problem, it’s that the final moments of “The Amazing Spider-Man 2” seems more interested in setting up the barrage of franchise movies destined to spawn from this one. Yes, Paul Giamatti shows up as the Rhino, albeit very briefly. Yes, there are several references to the well known Sinister Six, a group of villains whose sole purpose is to wreak havoc on Spider-Man.
This is definitely a much better movie than “The Amazing Spider-Man”, which felt like nothing more than a remake. This takes a different path and really delves into Peter Parker’s relationships with Gwen, his Aunt May, and his parents. It’s a showcase for Andrew Garfield and Emma Stone and they, along with some gorgeous, bright and colorful filmmaking, make it worth seeing.