Andrew Garfield as Peter Parker and Emma Stone as Gwen Stacy in The Amazing Spider-Man 2
The Amazing Spider-Man 2 marks the second installment of the rebooted Spiderman franchise and they were both directed by Marc Webb. There were many who very much disliked the first installment of the new franchise, but I personally loved it. Once again, critics and fans both are split. Some love it and some hate it. Is it because of Andrew Garfield’s performance as PeterParker/Spider-Man? Is it because of the lack of narrative? Or is it because of some other reason? I don’t know. All I can say is what I thought of it. There will be spoilers in this and they are probably spoilers you REALLY don’t want to read unless you’ve seen the movie.
The Amazing Spider-Man 2 opens up during Gwen Stacy (Emma Stone) and Peter Parker’s (Andrew Garfield) graduation. While she is giving her valedictorian speech, he is off fighting a pointless and terrible Paul Giamatti. But eventually, the story goes in the direction of splitting Gwen and Peter up. It makes sense based on what her father told him in the last movie. Stay away or she’s going to get hurt is the main message, and Peter keeps seeing her dad (Denis Leary) everywhere. He is in his head. So he has to break things off. But the real story has to do with Max Dillon (Jamie Foxx). He is an odd Oscorp employee, one who is responsible for power grid…stuff. But a freak accident occurs and he is bitten by these horribly CGI’d eels and instead of dying, he turns into “Electro;” who is a translucent, blue-skinned, electric freak. And he takes it upon himself to want to destroy Spider-Man because apparently Spider-Man saved him once and he didn’t remember his name. Isn’t that adorable?
There are so many things this movie gets right. The on and off relationship between Peter and Gwen is fantastic. They have fantastic chemistry, probably mostly due to the fact that they are a real life couple. I buy their relationship so much that I can overlook the fact that they in no way look like high school kids. But them together is golden. They work extremely well off of each other. They are witty and have banter that comes off very natural. There is nothing not to love about the two of them. You can see why they are a perfect match and you want these two to be together. The love between them is done much better in this movie than in the previous one. It just seems more natural here.
Oh yeah, we get the introduction of Harry Osborn (Dane DeHaan) as well in this movie. He is brought back because his father, Norman (Chris Cooper), is dying. He does die but his sickness is genetic, which means what he had is also inside his son. You get to see Harry and Peter’s little bromance on screen and it’s actually kind of awesome. Dane DeHaan plays Harry perfectly; much better than the shit James Franco gave us in the Raimi films. This guy is smart and creepy and he finds the perfect balance. The friendship between the two is definitely dropped on us and it may be rushed, but it works. The acting between the two makes it flow really well.
Wanna know what doesn’t work? Jamie Foxx as Electro. I’m sorry; I love Jamie Foxx as much as the next guy, but this portrayal was just bad. The writing was awful for the character as well. Even before he turns into electric man, his character was too cartoonish. Yes, he is a loner and in desperate need of a friend; but that be shown in a different way. The way he was handled came off more as a caricature than one of an actual character. Why do most villains work in movies? Because they are sometimes sympathetic. If Sam Raimi did one thing right, it was his villains. You believed that the villains were just like Peter, but they just made the wrong decision somewhere down the line. That is why everyone loved Alfred Molina in Spiderman 2. But Electro is a dumb character who just gets powers with no real explanation of his powers or limitations. He isn’t sympathetic. He just goes from being weird to wanting to kill Spider-Man.
This movie has a problem with its editing most of all. They just go from random scene to random scene. Peter is joking one scene and crying the next. It could have been done a lot better. And yeah, the story was clunky. But if edited right, it doesn’t have to be clunky. It can flow perfectly fine. The inclusion of the Rhino (Paul Giamatti) was just pointless. He served no purpose other than to set up a Sinister Six movie. His entrance and his scene at the end are awful. I liked how the last scene was done to end the film, but overall, he was pointless. And Paul Giamatti was just bad. Another thing I disliked was the music. Some of the instrumental themes were uplifting and awesome but the ones during every Electro action scene kinda sucked. The addition of dubstep to the score really brought it down for me. It didn’t get me excited, but the opposite.
The acting in this movie is spot on, aside from Giamatti and Foxx. Emma Stone is always great and she is such a believable character, it’s unreal. She is not only beautiful, but really smart. It adds a lot to buying the relationship between her and Peter. Andrew Garfield does really good work as Peter and even better work as Spider-Man. I don’t care who I piss off by saying this but I personally think Andrew Garfield is much better in this role than Tobey Maguire was. Yes, I can agree that Maguire was a fantastic Peter Parker, but his Spiderman needed a lot of work. But Andrew Garfield just acts better than he did. He can sell any emotional scene much better than Maguire. When Tobey cried, I laughed at how cringeworthy it was. When Garfield does it, it makes us feel for the guy. That is how you know the acting is better. Not to shit on Maguire, but I just greatly prefer Garfield. Dane DeHaan is a much better Harry. He kills it in every scene he is in.
Now lets talk about that ending. Harry Osborn’s arc in this movie was definitely crammed in, but it was well done. This is mostly due to Dane DeHaan’s excellent portrayal. But even when he went the Green Goblin route at the end, we understood why. I may not have been a fan of how he talked when he turned into the Goblin, but man did he look badass/freaky. There was a sense of urgency with his character and it made sense. I loved the last fifteen minutes. After Electro is defeated, seeing Harry zoom in on his glider for battle number two really got me excited. And it didn’t disappoint. The light bulb moment where Harry figured out Spider-man’s identity was well done and showed us that Harry can put two and two together. But what came after is devastating. He wanted to hurt Peter so he tried to kill his girlfriend. And he succeeded. Gwen Stacy is no longer with us. And the way it happened was brutal. Because, in a roundabout way, it was Spider-Man that killed her. She was falling down a tower and Spider-Man flew down to grab her and had to shoot his web at her. He tried to stop her in her tracks but she still hit the ground floor and died on impact. Now, it is uncertain whether she died from the whiplash (like in the comics) or from her head hitting the ground. Personally, I heard a snap, so I thought the whiplash instantly. But, Captain Stacy was right all along. Being with Peter would get her killed. And it did. Now he has to live with that death for the rest of his days. It was a nice twist, that I unfortunately saw coming (that England bit made it too obvious), but it was still tragic and sad and made me feel feelings.
As I said, the final fifteen minutes are amazing. From the death and past it, it was all well done. I felt Peter’s pain. Scenes like that show us the true acting ability of Andrew Garfield. Say what you want about the guy, but he can flat-out act his ass off. In addition, the story about Peter’s parents was a little forced, but that wasn’t the problem. The issue is that it went nowhere. It was anti-climactic and I just didn’t care. But as much as I didn’t care about that, I cared even less about Aunt May’s nursing classes or whatever the hell she was stressed about.
This movie really left me pondering what I truly felt about it at the end. Was it good? Was it better than the first installment? It is hard to say. It improved many aspects but some aspects were still bad or worse. The main villain was awful. The side stories were better and well done, but they were still jumbled into the movie and it didn’t really flow that well as a whole. But that is an editing problem. The music mostly sucked, but the actions scenes did look awesome. Jamie Foxx looked too CGI for my taste, but the Green Goblin was just plain awesome. So it definitely left me thinking. All in all, this was a decent superhero movie that was enhanced by great performances by great actors and actresses; along with an amazing final fifteen minutes. If you’re a Spiderman fan, you’ll love The Amazing Spider-Man 2.
Andrew Garfield as Spider-Man/Peter Parker
Emma Stone as Gwen Stacy
Jamie Foxx as Electro/Max Dillon
Dane DeHaan as Green Goblin/Harry Osborn
Sally Field as Aunt May
Colm Feore as Donald Menken
Felicity Jones as Felicia
Campbell Scott as Richard Parker
Embeth Davidtz as Mary Parker
Paul Giamatti as Aleksei Sytsevich
Marton Csokas as Dr. Ashley Kafka
and Chris Cooper as Norman Osborn
WHAT I LIKED:
+: Great performances all around. Andrew Garfield, Emma Stone, and Dane DeHaan truly shine in their roles and help make forced friendships and relationships seem so real and natural. Great work from them. Garfield shows some true range in some heartbreaking and emotional scenes. Emma Stone makes her character seem so believable and natural. Dane DeHaan brings an intelligence and creepiness to his role and he finds the perfect balance. He is the true Harry Osborn.
+: The chemistry between Andrew Garfield and Emma Stone is one of the best aspects of this film. They are completely believable as a couple. It is probably due to the fact that they are dating in real life, but they just provide a spark on-screen that is a blast to watch.
+: The final fifteen minutes. Wow.
+: The Spidey costume looked amazing. There was more texture to the blue areas the and the eyes really popped out in a good way. And they way the suit moved in the wind as he was flying across New York City, just made it look that much more amazing.
+: The funny parts (mostly involving Spider-Man or Gwen Stacy) were really funny.
+: Great direction from Marc Webb. The action scenes looked cool. The CGI looked really good as well.
WHAT I DIDN’T LIKE:
-: Jamie Foxx as Electro. A cartoonish character that turned into an awful villain with no real motivation that made sense. His obsession with Spider-Man followed by his extreme desire to kill him came off rather dull. Also, there were long stretches of the movie where no villain was even involved in the plot.
-: A little too long.
-: Paul Giamatti as the Rhino. No. Just NO.
-: Story threads that were pointless, didn’t amount to much, or didn’t reach me on a personal level. I’m talking about you Rhino, Richard Parker, and Aunt May.
-: Dubstep music added to the score was a BAD idea
-: Scenes were oddly placed in the movie. Happy and funny scenes go directly to emotional ones. The editing job wasn’t very well done. Probably could have been better if it flowed better as a whole. Some of the writing could have been better as well.
-: Possibly too much crammed into one film.