When it was announced that Sony was going to reboot their lone Marvel property, “Spider-Man” after the poor response from “Spider-Man 3” from both critics and audiences, fans were not happy. The developing sequel was caught up in some behind the scenes drama from director Sam Rami and Sony Studios, and so the film franchise was set to be rebooted. A very controversial move from the studio at the time since the Sam Rami trilogy was very much still fresh in the minds of moviegoers and was pretty well loved as well despite “Spider-Man 3″. Marc Webb’s ” The Amazing Spider-Man” debut only 5 years after “Spider-Man 3”, to mostly positive responses and I myself loved it. It was a brilliant retelling of the origins of “Spider-Man” that was well acted and featured a much stronger emotional core then most of the original films had. It wasn’t without its share of a few flaws but never the less the movie was a great comic book film.
Now we have come to Marc Webb’s follow up “The Amazing Spider-Man 2” which held the promise of greatly expanding the universe, introducing multiple characters, all while setting up the future Sinister Six. A team of super villains that team up to take down Spider-Man. After a marketing strategy that nearly double the budget and exhausted movie goers, many had a fear of a repeat of “Spider-Man 3” mistakes with too many plotlines and too many characters. While this film does get itself tangled up in many plotlines a few times and sometimes a few too many tonal shifts, this none the less a superior film to the first in the new franchise. Filled with terrific performances and dazzling effects and awesome action sequences. “The Amazing Spider-Man 2” may be sometimes be a bit unfocused but there is too much to love to let its faults overshadow how much this gets right.
In this installment of the franchise , Peter Parker finds himself firmly established as the masked hero, Spider-Man. He struggles though, to keep his promise that he made to the late Captain Stacy’s, to stay away from Gwen. Also Peter has to deal with the unexpected return of childhood friend, Harry Osborn. Whom is slowly dying from a disease given to him from his father. His only hope is Spider-Man’s blood. Meanwhile a lonely man named Max Dillon, who is a big fan of Spider-Man, has a horrible accident that transforms him into the villain known as Electro.
As you can tell from reading that brief synopsis, there is A LOT going on in this film. Anyone who knows of “Spider-Man 3″‘s fault would surely make a safe bet that this was going to repeat those mistakes. Especially since there is even more going on than just the stuff mentioned above. However this film managed, for the most part, to keep those different plotlines contained and weave in and out of them making it feel like a cohesive package. Sure sometimes the movie does indeed feel overstuffed, and things could have shifted around and taken out but for a film that has so much going on it really manages to keep it all together and again. Generally it keeps it contained on the main title character. That was a sin of “Iron Man 2”. A lot going on and a lot of build up to future installments, but the script in that film moves to far away from the main character and Tony Stark/Iron Man gets lost in the shuffle. Meanwhile here it does manage to keep the movie and it’s arc’s defined by the main character of Peter Parker/Spider-Man with plenty of room for development.
The script certainly isn’t perfect. It is a bit long and does suffer from the occasional line or two of bad dialogue (mostly towards the first half of the film). It does however also have some tonal issues during the build up to the finale. It switches far too much between the moods of dark and sinister and love, happy and joyous. There is no proper transition linking them together. It’s the equivalent of going from heavy drums and guitar playing in a song to something smooth and acoustic, without a proper transition. It can work, it’s been done countless times in songs throughout time but many artists will make the mistake not to put in that smooth transition to make it a cohesive song. That’s the best analogy I can make for certain segments of this film.
The area that this film really excels at is defining and interacting with relationships. All of the actors have terrific on screen chemistry. All the relationships are so well written, each one is fascinating. Peter’s relationship with Gwen, Peter’s relationship with Aunt May, Harry’s relationship with his father, Spider-Man’s relationship with Electro, among so many others. You can really understand the relationships and and feel the emotion that carries with it. That’s one of the things this film works best with.
There are numinous villains in movie however there are only two you have to really worry about. Electro and Green Goblin. The Rhino, although heavily advertised, is nothing more than a glorified cameo. He is only in two scenes, one in the rhino suit. He is another fault with the film. Although he is there to serve as an important resolution to a story arc, he is so poorly done as a cheesy hammy villain played by a great actor that overdoes it. A cartoony choice of acting. The look too was also poorly designed. Although the original costume design would not have worked in the film either, that does not mean this design gets a free pass.
The other two villains, Electro and Green Goblin rank among some of the best villains in the franchise. Electro played wonderfully by Jamie Fox is a man who just wants to be seen and loved by many and has many of the qualities of a Frankenstein character complex but also a man on the edge of insanity. As Max Dillon, he goofy but charming while as Electro he is scary and intimidating. Meanwhile the Green Goblin is the one I wanted to see in the original “Spider-Man”. I liked William DaFoe in the role but I never thought he was outstanding (and neither was his power ranger costume either). Although he isn’t in it much, this was the Green Goblin I’ve been waiting to see. Dan DeHaan is fantastic in the role and defines it and makes it his own. The tension that builds up to his transformation and the payoff to the emotional finale is nothing short of brilliant, I wish there was more of him.
The rest of the actors in the roles also bring their A game. Andrew Garfield IS Spider-Man. Sorry I like Tobey Magiure too but Garfield out performs him in the role. He gets the personality of the character and also brings the right depth and emotion to the wise cracking webslinger we’ve all grown to love. His love interest (on and off screen) with Gwen Stacy played by Emma Stone also sizzles in many of the film’s quieter scenes. Their chemistry is incredible together and both thoroughly great performances. Rounded out that cast is Sally Field as Aunt May, who is really great as always. There is however one other silly performance played by Marton Csokas as the “evil doctor” at Ravencroft prison whose character needed to re-thought out or taken out (the latter would be more ideal).
The last thing to talk about is director Marc Webb. He does an incredible job as the director. Webb not only nails the characters and pushes these actors to good performances, but the look of the movie is great. Switching back to traditional film instead of using digital looks a lot better. The color choices fit in the world they created in the first but also are reminiscent of the comic books. Add in his ability to make some exciting and gut wrenching action sequences (including that incredible music made by Hans Zimmer), makes him a director that will highly sought out long after he is done with this series.
So we have finally reached the end of my long review to a long movie. This newest installment does have its share of flaws for sure and for many will be too numinous. However most of these flaws do not detract to much from the movie as whole because what the filmmakers and crew get right, out weight most of those problems. Now I sit here looking forward to “The Amazing Spider-Man 3” in 2 years.