In a summer filled with superhero films, nobody wants to be the low guy on the totem pole. While it remains to be seen where “The Amazing Spider-Man 2” falls on that list, it certainly won’t be taking the crown off of “Captain America: The Winter Soldier”.
After the reboot that few wanted back in 2012, it seems even fewer were interested in Spidey’s latest outing.
The sequel finds Peter Parker (Andrew Garfield) and Gwen Stacy (Emma Stone) graduating high school and continuing their romance from the first film. More comfortable in his role as the protector of New York City, Parker is the web-slinging, wise-cracking hero we’ve come to know from the comics. When Oscorp employee Max Dillon (Jamie Foxx) receives an extremely lethal dosage of electricity, he becomes the villain Electro. Made of pure energy, his only mission is to make the world notice him in a way that it never did when he was a normal human.
At the same time, Peter’s best friend, Harry Osborn (Dane DeHaan), returns home from boarding school to visit his dying father (Chris Cooper). Assuming his role at the family business, Harry is lured to the same morally questionable projects that plagued Peter’s father.
Though people may hate the idea of rebooting Spider-Man so soon, it has given us a new cast that vastly improves on the Tobey Maguire crew from Sam Raimi’s trilogy. Garfield and Stone are perfect together, making the scenes between them better than any featuring Maguire and Kirsten Dunst. But enough comparison, the cast here is great. Sally Field gives a healthy dose of reality to a film that needs it and Chris Cooper’s role, though small, demonstrates the kind of impact he can make in one scene a la “The Town.”
The cast’s material? Eh, not so great. When Foxx’s villain declares “It’s my birthday, time for me to light my candles,” you start to wonder if Arnold Schwarzenegger’s Mr. Freeze character has a writing credit. Also in the “just a little too campy for comfort” category is Paul Giamatti’s Aleksei Sytsevich, also known as the Rhino.
If there’s one thing to be said of “The Amazing Spider-Man 2”, it’s that the film makes some bold choices, both in writing and execution. Since the new series isn’t exactly the most popular thing ever, one would expect the filmmakers to come back with one of Spider-Man’s bigger villains. Judging from the end of this sequel, the big guns may finally make an appearance in “The Amazing Spider-Man 3.”
A heavy portion of the film is influenced by the presence of Electro, including an excessive use of dub-step and CGI. Of course any film about a web-slinging superhero will have a lot of CGI, but given the nature of Electro, most of the action sequences are reduced to Spider-Man dodging electric bolts rather than the hands-on fights with Lizard or Doc Ock from the past.
“The Amazing Spider-Man 2” is a flawed film, but where it excels is with its characters. Anchored by a collection of strong performances and some unique visuals, the film stands as a suitable bridge between the first film and the event the 3rd will (hopefully) be.