Film Review – The Amazing Spider-Man 2
The Amazing Spider-Man 2
With Sam Raimi’s Spider-Man series not even a distant memory, Sony is flying right along with the latest reboot series. Before The Amazing Spider-Man 2 had even hit theaters, they had already announced parts 3 and 4. While I respect the commitment, it seemed more than a little premature. I modestly enjoyed The Amazing Spider-Man and nothing in the trailers for the sequel looked particularly “amazing.”
Picking up after the last film, Spider-Man (Andrew Garfield) has embraced his super-hero self, but is haunted by fears that his relationship with Gwen Stacey (Emma Stone) is dangerous. At the same time, a series of villains from his past and present threaten New York and his future.
As one of the top five most iconic characters in comics, there is a lot of material and fandom to build upon. This series of Spider-Man movies continues to keep closer ties to the original mythology from the comics and remain true to the nature of the characters therein. A lot more time is spent showing the upbeat, humorous side of the character which, as much as I liked his portrayal, was not a part of Tobey Maguire’s interpretation. Thankfully, this time around the character feels more put together than The Amazing Spider-Man and not some weird emo-Teen Wolf mashup. This was a much better showcase of the rebooted concept for the character than the previous film.
Andrew Garfield continues to be a point of contention for me in this series of Spider-Man films. He kind of fits the role, but still doesn’t exactly feel right. Garfield is great a the quippy Spider-Man, but never really hits the right notes during the dramatic parts. His wavering on being Spider-Man feels a bit more glossed over here and overcome a bit too easily. There are many things that are a huge improvement in the reboot (most notably Emma Watson as Gwen Stacey and Sally Field as Aunt May), but Garfield has yet to truly put his stamp on the character—he feels replaceable to me, still. To be fair, Chris Evans took until Captain America: The Winter Soldier (his third try) to do it, so it still might happen.
Perhaps the great success of director Marc Webb is continuing to refine the “experience” of a Spider-Man movie. By that, I mean this film does a great job of creating an atmosphere where the viewer really gets an idea of what it would feel like to swing on the webs through the city. Also, I must give him credit for continuing to use different villains than the first series instead of just rehashing the same villains that have come before. That being said, it feels like Webb and the new series are still finding themselves, particularly technically, where it felt more CGI heavy (including the aforementioned web swinging) than a lot of the character movies Marvel is putting out at this point. The already thin line between live action and animated movies continues to blur more and more. And what might comes as no surprise, the 3-D in the movie didn’t do a lot for me and only would occasionally grab my attention—it definitely wasn’t a must-see attribute.
The action in the movie is fun, but felt a bit abbreviated, as none of the action scenes felt overly long. While there were large-action set pieces, there is something about keeping Spider-Man always in New York that makes it feel small in comparison to a lot of what Marvel is doing cinematically. This is another area where Raimi’s series has remained superior, but you can definitely see Webb’s growth from film to film. It will be interesting to see if he lasts past part three; he might have just started to really hit his stride by then.
Let’s talk about the villains for a second. Heading into the film, we knew there were going to be three villains (Electro – Jamie Foxx, the Rhino – Paul Giamatti, Green Goblin – Dane DeHaan), but we weren’t sure of how they fit together. After how notoriously poor the same situation was handled Spider-Man 3, this was obviously a point of concern. Thankfully, it is far more restrained in terms of their usage, and instead the film primarily focuses on one (Electro) with the others serving mostly as support. In a strange way, it doesn’t really feel like the villains are the driving force of the movie. Much like The Dark Knight served as a bridge movie for the franchise, this movie does set the stage for where the series is heading next – hinting at several characters who are likely to show up sometime in the near future.
All of this combines to create a fun, albeit slightly unfulfilling, movie. There is a lot of fun action and The Amazing Spider-Man 2 does establish a lot of the pathos for the character going forward, but it never really felt like Spider-Man was ever in real danger (much like Captain America in Captain America: The First Avenger). The film feels more like transitional piece—a piece of a bigger puzzle, to get the character set up for future films going forward rather than a stand-alone character film. Perhaps Sony should be applauded for their long-term thinking, but it is hard to see the sacrifices without seeing the end results of the series as a whole. It can be summarized in one line: better than the last one, but still not great. Sadly, the biggest thing this film did was to serve as a reminder how unfortunate it is that we will likely never see a Spider-Man in the Marvel universe in such projects as an Avengers crossover.[youtube https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=DlM2CWNTQ84]