May 02, 2014 by David Hagelgans
“The Amazing Spider-Man 2” is officially my second favorite Spiderman sequel of all time.
All jokes aside, after hearing in 2011 about the reboot for the Spider-Man franchise, I was less than thrilled. “The Amazing Spider-Man” was anything but a good movie and Peter Parker/Spider-Man, as played by Andrew Garfield, was more of a misunderstood hipster than a beloved “everyman nerd” hero, with a weak storyline at best.
However, the tongue-in-cheek comedy style of the sequel was reminiscent of the original ‘80s “Spider-Man and His Amazing Friends” television show, and it’s an attribute that fans of the series deserved in this new trilogy. Director Marc Webb has turned the franchise around with a well-written story that will fulfill any viewer’s needs for a night out at the movies.
The movie opens with a quick recap on the whereabouts of Peter Parker’s missing parents. It then takes a dark turn from a kid friendly comic book movie to something entirely more sinister. The scene escalates quickly and doesn’t allow the viewer any time to get situated. After about five minutes, if you can stay seated through the action and confusion, the movie begins to hit its stride as we see the first appearance of Spider-Man. This new vision of the web-spinning hero is exactly what fans have been waiting for. His witty banter with criminals and street thugs is enough to make even the most cynical of viewers crack a smile.
As the movie progresses, the teenage side of Peter is exposed to the audience as he struggles with his relationship with Aunt May, played by Sally Field, and his girlfriend, Gwen Stacy, played by Emma Stone. The adolescent struggles of Spider-Man are the most nuanced and important aspect of his character, which is why I was so happy to see it successfully portrayed through this film.
As tension between Peter and Gwen begins to pick up, the story shifts to the introduction and backstory of Jamie Foxx’s character, Max Dillon, who soon makes his transition into the villain Electro. Max Dillon initially appears as simply misunderstood, but he is soon revealed to be a psychopath. After Spider-Man swings in to save him from a flying vehicle, Dillon becomes obsessed with the costumed web slinger. The interaction between the two soon leads to the first superhero vs. supervillian fight scene in the movie. It’s definitely one of better superhero movie fight scenes in recent movie history, featuring an epic standoff in Times Square, bringing Spider-Man to the forefront of the public’s eye.
The movie then returns to the action between Peter and Gwen. Their relationship has grown between the first and second movies since the death of Gwen’s father in the first film. His dying words to Spider-Man were to stay away from Gwen, and his disobedience to Gwen’s dead father leaves Peter with intolerable guilt. The up-and-down love story between the two has become much more fleshed out, and it felt like a surprisingly engaging teenage romance instead of an unnecessary addition used to fill a cliche. Teenage romance and foolish commitment is exactly the love story you want from a Spider-Man film, and real life couple Garfield and Stone provide exactly the right chemistry on screen.
However, the movie’s writers were far from perfect when it came to additional storylines. Many characters and scenes seemed to be added for no apparent reason or for just a quick nugget of seemingly obvious information. Peter’s parents’ backstory was the most notable example of a seemingly unnecessary storyline. It was a solid 20-30 minutes of the film but it added little, if anything, to the story. The real tragedy of the writing was the addition of the character of Harry Osborn, played by Dane DeHaan, because his storyline seemed rushed.
The Harry Osborn story is recognizable to anyone who is even slightly familiar with the Spider-Man story, which may be why writers felt so comfortable adding it. However, with no mention of the character in the first movie, to suddenly drop him into the plot felt extremely strange, mostly because his character was obviously going to become a villain.
DeHaan, when asked about his character by USA Today, told reporters, “There are not many movies where you start off as a seemingly normal guy and by the end you are a full-blown monster.”
The only issue with this is no one could possibly believe Harry Osborn is a good guy. His father was a villain in the first movie; Harry has jet black hair, red beady eyes and a swiveling chair. Honestly, the only things missing were a white cat and a face scar, and he could have been cast in a Bond film. It was often hard to stay with the movie while bouncing between almost ten different storylines. The crowded storylines did hurt the film in the end, but if you could follow along or were able to see past the clutter, the movie was solid.
One thing that many people overlook during a movie, including myself, is the soundtrack. However, this movie’s soundtrack was impossible to ignore. The new stylized theme composed by Hans Zimmer truly refreshes the series. Throughout the movie, some songs are more notable, as they include Peter playing them in his room, but what makes the soundtrack so good is its ability to immerse the viewer without being overwhelming. The sense of tension brought on by The Electro Suite was undeniable. Every time it played, the movie made a transition to the grand action scenes that the first film was so deprived of.
With the accomplishments of Marvel Studios’ Avengers taking over themarket, the standards are high for new comic book movie adaptations. Not only does Sony Pictures meet those standards with “The Amazing Spider-Man 2,” they exceed them.