Review: The Amazing Spider-Man 2

TASM2 The Amazing Spider-Man 2 picks up not to far after the events of the first film. While still feeling the effects from the climax of the first film, Peter has fully embraced being Spider-Man. The film looks amazing (not pun intended), from the wide shots of Spider-Man swinging throughout to the slow motion scenes that invoke the comic panels of the character's roots. The 3D effect and interesting point-of-view shots make you feel like you’re on a roller coaster. The suit itself is the best live action adaptation of Spider-Man’s classic costume. It looks like something that this character made and not like something that was produced at an Under Armor factory.

The action is great, with the Times Square scene and final act being real standouts. They act as elaborate set pieces to illustrate what Spider-Man is truly capable of doing with his unique abilities. These scenes had me grinning from ear to ear and left me wishing there was either a little more action or a little less exposition in the second act. Remember the marketing campaign for the first The Amazing Spider-Man movie that promised to tell “the untold story” of Peter’s past, yet that story continued to be untold in the film? Well it’s all here in The Amazing Spider-Man 2. This is both good and bad. It’s an interesting story and closes a few plot threads left dangling in the first film. However, because it’s all crammed into this one, it throws the pacing off and makes the second act of the film feel a little bloated.

My only other major gripe is the villains. Not there are too many of them, but I am personally not a fan of the majority of Spider-Man’s villains. I admit that this is a personal gripe so feel free to take my criticisms with a grain of salt.

Paul Giamatti is in the movie. That’s all I have to say because that’s about how long he was in the film.

Jaime Foxx plays Max Dillon, an electrical engineer at Oscorp that, after an accident is transformed into the energy sucking, lightning throwing Electro. Foxx’s performance is good as the gauche and unappreciated Max that, after being saved by Spider-Man becomes obsessed and subsequently, mentally unhinged. From his glowing skin that radiates blue light, to the modulated effect in his voice, Electro is a spectacle to behold. The film wants you to sympathize with Max but the character just seems to be a glorified thug. He’s no criminal genius, or despicably evil. Nor is he all that tragic of a villain. He comes off as just a crazy guy whose only motivation is blind vengeance, directed at the wrong person.

One character I do find interesting in the Spider-Man universe is Peter’s best friend Harry Osborne, in this film played by Dane DeHaan. When coming home from an overseas trip, Harry visits his estranged father who tells him that he has inherited a degenerative disease and is dying. Harry theorizes that Spider-Man’s blood will likely cure him. Harry must find a way to stay alive while managing his family’s corporation. DeHann’s plays a wonderful portrayal of Harry as charming, spoiled, and creepy. Their relationship might feel a little forced but DeHann and Garfield play well against each other as best friends trying to become friends again. I wish there was a little more of Harry, but that’s what sequels are for.

One relationship that doesn’t feel forced is that of Peter and Gwen. Garfield and Stone continue to share the same chemistry that made them an adorable couple in the first film. These character moments are what truly endear us to them. You feel glad for them during their highs and sad for them during their lows. Individually, Emma Stone is the perfect counterpart to Peter. While she unfortunately serves the overall purpose of being one of Peter’s motivation forces throughout the film, she isn’t relegated to just some damsel in constant distress. She is a fully formed character that we root for throughout the film.

Many have complained that Andrew Garfield as Peter Parker is too confident and not nerdy enough. Well, nowadays, nerd is the new cool and I would argue that Garfield’s Peter Parker is perfect for this modern day retelling of the Spider-Man story. When the mask is on, he is everything that we want Spidey to be: funny, lovable, a motor mouth, and a bit of a dick. Yet, he can be serious when the time calls for it. Any actor that can emote while wearing a full-body suit deserves praise.

The Amazing Spider-Man 2 is not without its flaws. There is a lot going on in the film as it sets us up for something sinister in the future. But this the best Spider-Man film to date and certainly worth your time.

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Review: The Amazing Spider-Man

With 5 years separating the final Sam Raimi Spider-Man trilogy, Sony received unabashed grief for their idea to scrap the old and reboot the universe. From every corner of the nerd-verse we heard how this was a terrible idea and was a total waste. This response was rather odd to me considering how much people loved the new Christopher Nolan Batman movies that were created after only 8 years from its previous series. The internet is an odd place that facts and rationales don’t always go over well, but I digress.

The Amazing Spider-Man (TASM) is a retelling of one of the most familiar superhero origin stories we know. Boy gets bit by spider, boy gets powers, boy’s uncle dies, and boy becomes hero. This is so familiar that my mother could probably recite it and I know she has never even seen the Spider-Man movies. With that being the case why even bother telling this story again? Just start with him already performing adventures and get right to the stuff we want to see. I think it was important to take another stab at how Peter Parker came to be. The director, Marc Webb, takes some leeway with Parker/Spider-Man’s origin by modernizing him and making his teen angst rooted in the lack of knowing his parents. Webb is careful not to dismiss the powerful presence that Uncle Ben and Aunt May play in Peter’s life, which was something that I was afraid was going to happen. Parker’s parents are used more as an emotional MacGuffin to get the plot moving. Both Uncle Ben (Martin Sheen) and Aunt May (Sally Fields) bring real depth to their characters. Unlike in Sam Raimi’s interpretation were they felt very campy and like placeholders. When Uncle Ben dies you actually feel a sense of loss for Peter, and you get to see Garfield actually emote! With the culmination of his parental loss we get to the making of a hero.

When Marc Webb, who is most famous for his work on 500 Days of Summer, was selected as the helmer of this reboot I was skeptical. How does a new director go from a quiet anti-romcom to big budget superhero movies. However, it's those emotional quiet moments that Webb really shines. The ability to capture teen awkwardness between Gwen Stacy (Emma Stone) and Peter Parker (Andrew Garfield) was great to see. The onscreen chemistry between the two was a nice relief from the very wooden acting of Kirsten Dunst and Tobey Maguire. I think the amount of thoughtfulness in developing their relationship is what really made it work.

So now that the boy has his powers what does he do with them. Well, he does what Spider-Man is suppose to do...be awesome. The practical web swinging used in the film is stellar. The acrobatics used by the character are really shown off and look pretty flawless. There are a few times where the CGI fails slightly but these are few and far between. When Spider-Man is onscreen his suit shines and so does the action. When he is taking on the Lizard/Kurt Conners (Rhys Ifans) things move very fast but deliberate. The fight scenes are pretty intense and they feel like a battle out of the comics. Spider-Man is constantly making quips while sliding, flipping, and jumping to avoid being defeated. Ifans’s Lizard is my least favorite portion of the movie. I think the CGI was good, but I didn’t think he needed to speak. I think the Lizard is more effective as a wild animal persona. Other than that he was played well. The Lizard’s ultimate plan was pretty lackluster, but so are most plans of evil villains in these comic book movies. Even with something so highly regarded as Batman Begins, the master plan is just silly. This is the nature of comic books being translated to the silver screen.

Overall, TASM is a great ride and is the best Spider-Man movie we have to date. With a great cast headed by Andrew Garfield this is an entry that has emotion, energy, passion, and action. Webb does wonders in breathing new life into the all but familiar character. This year we have seen Marvel’s blockbuster, The Avengers, set the bar pretty damn high. The Amazing Spider-Man doesn’t reach that bar but it gets points for trying. For a movie that tons of people didn’t want, TASM manages to not only meet the, unfairly, lowered expectations but far surpass them as well.

Spider-Man is back!

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