The Amazing Spider-Man wasn't the grand reboot it should've been. The movie wisely took on its own identity following Sam Raimi's trilogy, but there were a lot of missteps: The movie had some production troubles, and director Marc Webb didn't have a whole lot of control coming off of 500 Days of Summer. The final movie felt like a butchered product, and it was.
Remember 'The Untold Story'? That highly promoted tagline made little sense when we saw the movie, because the untold story, involving Peter's dad, got severely cut down in the film's editing. They saved the full answer for the sequel, but in the first movie, it still felt like a loose thread, along with Peter's search for Uncle Ben's killer. Any major plot threads would have payoff in Raimi's Spider-Man films, so that was one deviation from the previous Spidey films that made the reboot suffer.
But Webb's sequel, The Amazing Spider-Man 2, has made some notable improvements over its predecessor. Here they are:
Dane DeHaan As The Green Goblin
The last Spider-Man wasted Rhys Ifans as Dr. Connors. The Lizard was nothing more than a goofy CG creation, not a character. When DeHaan's Harry Osborn transforms into the Green Goblin, they keep his humanity. Unlike the first Spider-Man movie, his face isn't hidden. You see a kid in pain, and a lot of credit goes to DeHaan. The movie's energy level goes up every time he's onscreen, so much so that Jamie Foxx's Electro disappears in his shadow. This would've been a much better movie without Electro, especially because we'd get more time with DeHaan's Osborn. His performance is completely different from James Franco's take. He has a darkness to him from the start, and you understand why. Once he grows more sinister, you still hope he'll realize what he's doing is wrong and stop himself, and it's because DeHaan is a really charming and empathetic presence in the film's first half.
More Spidey Action
The opening set piece is a ton of fun. Marc Webb has definitely grown as an effects-heavy filmmaker. The opening chase is clear, exciting, and clever. It relies heavily on Spider-Man's wisecracking, so Spider-Man fans should be pleased Webb's stuck with that side of the character. The opening shows what people think of Spider-Man, how he's grown as a hero, and, unlike some heroes, it proves he cares about saving bystanders. The collateral damage in the opening must be notable, but at least Spider-Man showed some concern for New Yorkers.
There's Real Scope
The Amazing Spider-Man was fairly small in scope. Despite the last film having a gigantic budget, the set-pieces took place in sewers, high school hallways, and on top of a building. This is a much, much, much bigger movie. There are more locations, bigger action, and, thanks to the decision of shooting on film instead of the RED, this New York and Spidey are more photo real than what we saw in the last movie. New York has much more personality in this movie, partially because there's even more web swinging - and it should. New York has always been at the heart of the Peter Parker/Spider-Man story. The film starts with Peter's mysterious father, Richard Parker, but it would've been such a much more exciting opening if they began with the image of Peter falling from the sky and swinging into action.
More Gwen Stacey
Gwen Stacey (Emma Stone) is slightly more pivotal in this film. She's not just standing around with her mouth wide open watching Spider-Man save the day, like a lot of superhero girlfriends do, but, in the third act, she genuinely has a major hand in the final set pieces. Without Gwen, Spider-Man wouldn't win one battle. Not only that, she wants to help him, much to his annoyance. Gwen doesn't have or want to listen to Peter just because he's Spider-Man, so it's nice The Amazing Spider-Man 2 acknowledges this.
A Nice (Visual) Sinister Six Set Up
Although the film gets too caught up setting up future films, there's one visual set up that's rather cool in the film: when we're shown the suits Doctor Octopus, The Rhino, and The Vulture will wear. Unless I'm mistaken, there's another suit shown that already have fans debating about which villain it belongs to. Either way, it was a nice, gloomy taste of what's to come.
[The Amazing Spider-Man 2](movie:508593) hits theaters today.