By Eli Ralston
The Amazing Spider-Man 2 picks up after the events of the first film. Peter Parker (Andrew Garfield) has settled into his life as both the crime fighting Spiderman, and the everyday Peter Parker after high school graduation. He wrestles with the fact that keeping his love, Gwen Stacy (Emma Stone), in his life will always put her in danger. Peter often remembers her father making him promise to stay away from her before his death.
Peter’s childhood friend, Harry Osborn (Dane Dehaan), complicates the situation with dangerous secrets and desires. Also Oscorp electrician Max Dillon (Jamie Foxx) accidentally transforms into the infamous “Electro” after falling into a tank of genetically modified electric eels. Peter also discovers what happened to his own father, his research, and what has been going on behind the closed doors at Oscorp.
There is a lot going on at once in this movie, but there are also many things The Amazing Spider-Man 2 left out. Peter Parker never sets foot in the Daily Bugle or attends a single class. The film was more focused on setting up sequels than the task at hand. There are scenes in the film that feel clunky and a feeling that it is in there just to stitch everything together, including the many different voice over expositions that are just there to advance the plot. Even though the ride is bumpy, the final destination is more than worth the effort.
Just like Spider-Man 3, there were so many villains in the film that they are never established as central characters with any definable motivations or purposes. Like Spider-Man 3’s Venom, Harry Osborne’s Green Goblin was thrown in haphazardly during the last 20 or so minutes of the film and seemingly only to produce emotional scenes. The Rhino is just a cameo to introduce characters in the upcoming Sinister Six film. Electro is wasted as a character and used as a pawn (quite literally at one point) to move the film along.
The better scenes of the film are emotional, usually involving Peter’s complex relationship with Gwen or the straining relationship with Aunt May. The chemistry on screen between Garfield and Stone is portrayed realistically and is far better than Maguire and Dunst in the Rami trilogy. The ending scene especially (I won’t spoil it for you) was well done and Garfield proves he can do this role justice.
The film was at its best during the phenomenal action scenes. It’s entertaining watching Spider-Man swing around Manhattan and his impressive acrobatic moves. It was especially engaging when, in the middle of a fight and speeding every which way through Manhattan’s landscape, his spider sense slow everything down as he assess the situation. This allows the audience to get sucked into the action and it shows some of the best action sequences in superhero movies.
All in all, The Amazing Spider-Man 2 gets a lot right with some great performances from Garfield and Stone and fantastic action sequences. There is plenty of promise for something great to come from sequels and the Sinister Six series. It’s a shame that this film’s characters, story, and important details had to suffer in order to set up the bigger picture. Gwen Stacy and Electro especially showed potential to make this more than just a great action film, but a great action film with an even better story.
The Amazing Spider-Man 2 is a movie that gets a few things right, but falls short of being amazing.