If you haven’t seen the “Amazing Spider-Man 2” yet, definitely make time to see this dynamic super-hero/action genre film. I’ve seen a lot of superhero movies, especially in the last decade, and none can quite compare to the ability of Andrew Garfield (Peter Parker/Spider-Man) and Emma Stone (Gwen Stacy) to capture the array of emotions in the way the characters were able to in this roller coaster of a movie. Although Director Mark Webb overstuffed the 2.5hr movie with multiple plot lines, villains, and changing sets, the chemistry between Garfield and Stone attempt to, and are successful at, giving this movie heart and soul.
Webb’s spring blockbuster is the sequel to the reboot of the movie adaptation of the original Marvel comic-books, which is another way of saying it’s a copy of a copy. But if the Spider-Man tale is about anything, it’s about gawky youth and surging powers. And the film-makers know this and keep the tone skittish and fresh. In this installment of the latest Spider-Man franchise reboot, Columbia Pictures (Sony) takes the audience on the ride of their lives. And, that isn’t even counting the experience one receives in the 3D version (for your information, I watched the standard definition version).
The movie opens, as supplemental installments in a superhero franchise often do, in the middle of a hot pursuit. No surprises there. Parallel to attempting to apprehend a foreshadowed villain, Spider-Man is close to missing his high school graduation and his girlfriend’s valedictorian speech. Coming of no shock, he is able to swing onto the stage just before his name is called to walk across it. In addition to the fast-paced, thrilling ride the audience experiences during the entire movie, Peter and Gwen experience an emotional roller coaster of their own. Facing his most powerful villain to date, Spider-Man must outsmart Electro (played by Jamie Foxx), a mutant who’s ability to control electricity makes him seemingly unstoppable. Everywhere electricity is, there is he. The origin of Electro seems reminiscent of Kathy Bate’s character in the classic Stephen King novel set to film “Misery.” Is Spider-Man able to outwit his nemesis? You will just have to watch the movie to find out. And, like any good orphaned superhero, Peter’s iconic Aunt May (beautifully played again by the accomplished Sally Field) finally tells his the true story about his parents’ death. During the third act of the movie, however rushed, we are introduced to one of the most famed villains in the Spider-Man franchise, the Green Goblin. The close of the movie will likely have you in tears. Honestly, I think this is the only superhero movie that caused me to cry.
New Yorkers can definitely appreciate the sequel for highlighting the metropolis that is so vital to the Spider-Man story. The “Amazing Spider-Man” (first one) felt confined too often to Peter’s bedroom, his high school and the Oscorp skyscraper, neglecting the city. Essentially this latest installment is one long series of postcards of famous NYC landmarks, one right after another; from the Williamsburg Bridge to Columbus Circle, even taking in forgotten subway stations once frequented by a certain US President. Until the third act of the movie, the majority of the scenes take place outdoors from Chinatown to Park and 56th. For those who have not been to New York City, there is so much more to the metropolis than midtown, which is often all anyone ever sees of the city in movies.
In truth, none of the many subplots or action sequences, have as much combustible power as the scenes featuring Peter Parker/Spider-Man and Gwen, benefiting here as did the previous film from the fizzy, tangible chemistry between Garfield and Stone. It helps that they’re also individually such interesting performers, both nervous fidgeters who always seem so giddy in each other’s presence, even when Peter gets all worried about keeping his promise to dead Captain Stacy (Denis Leary) to stay away from Gwen for her own safety and tries to split up with her. Hence, the roller coast of emotions throughout the movie as I mentioned earlier. Unfortunately, the movie suffers from being overloaded with subplots that cannot be fully developed and executed effectively to the satisfaction of the audience in a timespan of nearly 2.5 hours. This is most evident in the origin and development of Green Goblin, whose story seems stuck in the middle of acts two and three, just to quickly introduce him in order to save time in the next film. And, as much fun as it is to see Paul Giamatti’s charismatic character on screen, he too should have been left out to fully develop in future installments.
All-in-all, “The Amazing Spider-Man 2” will thrill audiences everywhere, even the ardent comic book fans who line up every Wednesday morning for new comic book day (this is a shout out to my friend Derek). Although it is nearly impossible to expect a 2.5 hour movie, or even a trilogy (or more) to be all inclusive of the information in the comics, Webb appears to do an excellent job at combing the best of what the comic books offer with the additional elements to tell a story visually on screen.