I initially was skeptical of a remake to a highly successful franchise a decade after the first film released. But those qualms later subsided as I watched a different and entertaining take to an iconic character with The Amazing Spider-Man. Now anticipation remains high with the sequel and the need to do something new is driving the web slinger to new heights. I was even less sure of the sequel than I was with the first one since they are taking it to an entirely new direction. Character overkill and villain overload has plagued many a superhero movie, but just cause there have been more failures than successes doesn’t mean that it can’t be done correctly. [The Amazing Spider-Man 2](movie:508593) offers new ideas while still keeping the feel of a comic book with a clear story arc that goes from one movie to the next.
Right off the bat it felt different from past Marvel and superhero movies which I always like but it wasn’t different for the sake of being different in a landscape dominated by comic book movies. It really tried to tell a different story and have everything be connected, which is very admirable. You could say that the production company, Sony, is following Marvels model for comic book films but I see it as a more natural progression. You could do so much with Spider-Man that I think a risky undertaking like this is very welcomed. The dynamic is very distinct that allows for an entire universe to take part. For a singular character Spider-Man’s rogue’s gallery is the most diverse and well known in the Marvel universe. So having a wide variety exist at the same time is something that could make for epic story telling on the silver screen. Knowing that Spider-Man 3 ended in such cataclysmic failure on so many counts when it tried to include various villains is a gross injustice not only to Spider-Man but movies in general. But stretching the narrative to various films and treating it like a chapter in a story, while keeping the organ stories that have been done before relatively fresh makes it a different movie altogether. It feels much like a comic book where the tone, emotions and vibe all coincide to give that feeling of watching print come to life onscreen.
I have heard many complaints that the story is too confusing and muddled when I did not get that vibe at all. It contains each villain to its own segment, not combining them in a battle against superman even if they appear on the same screen in a different format. The story is bigger than itself and there is always something looming in the horizon, waiting to return for revenge. Its stuff like that which makes it stands apart from Spider-Man of the past. It’s almost as if everyone forgot the terrible story to Spider-Man 3 as it was a masterpiece. It’s a matter of simple nit picking and fan boys complaining that something isn’t perfect in every single way. It moved at an even pace, and had nothing that felt grossly out of place. Comic book movies aren’t perfect after all no matter what the die-hards say. We have seen the romance between Peter Parker and his love interest done before over three films but I loved that they went with Gwen Stacy as his original first love instead of spearheading with Mary Jane Watson. It’s that natural progression that I like when it comes to comic book movies. I am also glad they didn’t introduce her in this movie. It would have made no sense at all to include her during any point in the film.
Some of the story between Peter and Gwen felt a bit cliché but this is a comic book movie with teenage characters. We’re not talking Gone With The Wind here and no one should expect brilliance in that regard. I think people forget that Spider-Man started off as a teenager and spent much of his teens as the superhero. So to have people get upset that he’s acting too whiny or emotional doesn’t really make a lot of sense. He didn’t even spend the entire movie crying like past Spider-Man movies. It’s not always bad that there is romance in a comic book movie since it’s the driving focal point of being a superhero. It becomes useless when you don’t have someone to love, pine over or fight for. It was handled better than all three previous Spider-Man and X-Men movies, Superman Returns and even the recent Batman trilogy. I don’t think people are used to seeing teenage love in the 21st century played out on comic book movies on screen. Past superheroes have all mainly been adults dealing with love like Batman, Superman, Iron Man, Thor, Hulk, Captain America and so on. But when a superhero teen declares his love for another, everyone goes up in arms about it. People automatically equate anything like that to Twilight and all the terrible acts against humanity it brought along with it, which is really unfair and a gross comparison. And it’s the chemistry between Parker and Stacy that is the glue to the movie and moves it along. It’s one of the recent comic book romances that I really enjoyed.
Andrew Garfield is a great Spider-Man/Peter Parker and to be honest the one I have been waiting for. It has been too long since he was adapted as he was originally shown on the pages. He has a charismatic edge to him and always ready with a biting quip to his enemies. It also helps that he has a youthful look despite being 30 years old. I forgot how old he really is because his portrayal is that good and believable. He seems far more into the role than Tobey Maguire and willing to shed emotional layers. His performance was equal parts emotional with copious amounts of confliction. Garfield shows much exuberance with bounds of angst, tortured pain and a wise cracking demeanor that allows him to bounce back from each painful loss. Emma Stone was equally great as Gwen Stacy the girlfriend to Peter Parker. Emma has a perky charm to her that is really infectious. They go exceptionally well together and a couple that you want to see end up together. She has great understated comedic timing that goes well against the more sarcastic Garfield. What I think I love most about Emma Stones portrayal of Gwen Stacy is that she did not succumb to the damsel in distress curse that has befallen Mary Jane Watson in three consecutive Spider-Man films. There was no kidnap from the bad guy or rush to fight the villain to the death in a last ditch effort to save the woman he loves which is really refreshing.
Sally Field was also good as Aunt May to Peter Parker. She is usually great in nearly everything she does so it’s no surprise that a vet like her did well in this role. Like many old relatives in super hero movies, she provides much of the heart and the unbeknownst conscience to Peter Parker throughout the movie. Peter struggles his role as a teenage superhero and tries to come to terms with it when asked questions by Aunt May. Making Aunt May younger was a good idea. I liked that they had her looking for work and such, getting her more involved. Still having Peter live with Aunt May was a good idea too. It’s such a huge part of the dynamic to have Spider-Man as a teen living with his aunt while fighting crime. Dane DeHann played an exceptional Harry Osborn and heir to the Osborn Empire founded by his father Norman. He was very menacing without being too campy and a great villain overall. Deeply troubled with a chip on his shoulder, he has something to prove and needs someone to pay. It’s a breakout role for him that has the potential to be really huge. It sounds like typecasting since DeHaan has previously played roles where he is a troubled youth, had a terrible upbringing and awful fathers like The Place Beyond The Pines and Chronicle. But he is honestly a really good actor who goes all out on those roles. You could really feel the pain and anguish in his eyes and maybe even relate to them even if he is twisted. I really liked Jamie Foxx’s portrayal as Max Dillon/Electro. Having him be a shunned nobody who just wanted to be noticed by anybody only to gain extraordinary powers is a classic origin story. Foxx played the role of outcast nerd really well so the transition to psychopathic super villain was an easy transition. I always liked origin stories where the character gets screwed over through negligence then gets revenge on the society that didn’t care for him. He just wanted to be noticed like Spider-Man and have a friend which is an easy but effective way to tell a story. Paul Giamatti is one of my favorite actors alive and is one of the best character actors in the world. So it only made sense that he would be a villain in a comic book movie. The guy can play any role and have it be believable. He really hams it up and is having tons of fun playing Aleksei Mikhailovich Sytsevich/Rhino. Even with all the new characters, there was enough time to evenly split them apart and not have the story be bogged down with villain overload. It was nowhere as complex as people would lead you to believe. I for one am really excited at the direction that is being taken.
I think it’s really unbelievable that any comic book film franchise would dare include one of the greatest villainous groups of all time, the sinister six. It’s something that no one would ever think to do but something that needs to happen. Seeing it grow beyond your eyes in its infancy is astounding. I always wanted to see a battle in New York with Spider-Man going against numerous villains. I think the one villain standard in comic book films is becoming extinct. More people want the hero going against one villain after another or at a time. But it shouldn’t take away from the story in any way possible. If it can’t be juggled, it should not even be tried. That with the added villainy of Oscorp is also something that needed to happen. It’s great that it’s becoming its own entity and nightmare factory for Spider-Man. I can’t wait to see what happens and what additions are made. One of the hardest things to accomplish successfully is adapting a costume from a well-respected character in the 21st century. Costumes in comic books border on downright silly that no person in any frame of mind would wear on any screen. Spider-man’s costume looks awesome and I loved the white eyes on the mask like it looks in the comics. The webbing is not as noticeable and the colors look a bit darker. Electro looks good with a more streamlined black look. Simplicity is the key there as you only need a darkish blue suit that doesn’t cover the face. At first I thought the Rhino armor was stupid but then I realized how could they have a person that looks like a mutated rhino that stands upright look great? The translation doesn’t fit for a costume like that on screen. Rhino already looks like a silver hulk with horns and his face keeping his original skin tone stands out too much if it were adapted. The action sequences were spectacular as well as the special effects. The Times Square battle between Electro and Spider-Man was thrilling and having it be utterly destroyed was really cool to see.
One thing that has always irked me about Spider-Man is that the web shooters came with the powers and I think it made it too easy for him. There was no risk involved with having them be broken in a fight and Peter having to fix them. That’s why here when he encounters a problem with his web shooters and how to take down a villain, he has to quickly think of something to take him down. Spidey sense looked really cool here on a grand scale while he has to save dozens of people at once while falling back in the air. The web slinging of Spider-Man which is akin to Superman flying in Man of Steel looked (pardon the pun) amazing here. It is so easy to get lost as he swings through down town New York. The technology to make superheroes look effortlessly cool has never been better. The addition to include the Ravencroft Institute for the Criminally Insane is such a novel idea. I love the thought of having Spider-Man’s greatest villains locked away in one place but they all have an equal chance of escaping and causing more havoc. It makes that world all the more unpredictable and all encompassing. One thing I hated about previous comic book movies is that the villains all mostly die by the end and don’t get locked away. I love that they can exact revenge on their captor in the next movies.
I found it weird that they didn’t include a post credit scene after doing it in The Amazing Spider-Man. They just did a preview for X-men: Days of Future Past which I admit looks cool but I’ll see that in a few weeks so what do I care if I see a scene from another franchise that will eventually come out anyway within the month. I want to see something that would get me excited and satiate me until The Amazing Spider-Man 3 comes out in a couple years. Just because Marvel perfected the art doesn’t mean they own all rights to every post credit scene that will ever exist. Even if there weren’t any worthwhile post credit scenes, the way TASM 2 ended got me wanting more at the moment where shit was about to hit the fan. It was a great precursor to what is about to come in the awaiting sequels.
The soundtrack was unlike anything I’ve heard in a comic book movie. Hans Zimmer, one of the greatest film composers alive, was placed to score the film which is awesome news for anybody, but he was joined by numerous artists like Pharrell Williams. They called themselves The Magnificent Six and were more so a nontraditional view to film scoring. I could hardly tell Hans Zimmer was even doing the score and I could usually pick him out from anything. Not that it really bothered me but it didn’t stand out like I thought it would. The use of techno during the Electro battles was an odd choice but something I could understand given his powers of electricity. I really hated the use of Phillip Phillips Gone, Gone, Gone during a montage. It felt really out of place and made the scene overly sentimental. Even though I like that song they play that song to death whenever you want someone to feel all sappy in a trailer or any scene in general.
The Amazing Spider-Man franchise is doing something that Marvel and Fox aren’t doing with a singular character and that is creating a vast, wide universe centered on one superhero and a garbage list of great villains. It has the potential to be something great when all the dust has settled and by the looks of it, it may be a long while. For the longest time, Spider-Man wasn’t really Spider-Man no matter how much money it made or records it broke. It just didn’t have the feel. But now it actually has the tone of a comic book on screen where villains come and go, Spider-Man battles a villain(s) at length only to fight a few more later, and everything is just a part of a bigger story. While there are better overall comic book films out there, none of them feel as fresh as they do here. Four wise cracks out of five.