THE AMAZING SPIDER-MAN 2
Genre: Superhero Action
Running Time: 141 mins.
Premise: Peter Parker/Spider-Man (Andrew Garfield) struggles with dating Gwen Stacy (Emma Stone) while fending off villains Electro (Jamie Foxx) and old pal Harry Osborn (Dane DeHaan), who has transformed himself into the Green Goblin.
Behind-the-Scenes: In an effort to ape what Marvel has done, Sony has big plans for the Spider-Man series, and wants to make a whole cinematic universe out of its heroes and villains. In addition to two more sequels to this film, look for films about the "Sinister Six" and Venom in the years to come. Director Marc Webb is slated to direct the third Amazing Spider-Man, and will then move on from the series.
The Good: Garfield and Stone's chemistry. The two are dating in real life, and there's a clear bond between them on screen. Their scenes together are more electric than most of Spidey's battles with Electro. Garfield is particularly appealing as Spidey, imbuing the character with glee and a mischievous sense of humor that sets him apart from Tobey Maguire's version. The web-swinging action scenes have come a long way since the first Spider-Man in 2002, and have a breathtaking visual pop, especially in 3D. The character design for Electro is impressively detailed. The score (by Hans Zimmer and the Magnificent Six, which includes Pharrell Williams) is ambitious, thrilling, and unique in a way that James Horner's score for the first film wasn't. There's so much going on in the movie that it can't help but stay consistently entertaining throughout its running time.
The Bad: The villains. Foxx and DeHaan are talented actors, but they seem lost here. Their character's motivations are weak and undeveloped. Both turn too quickly against Spider-Man and then team up for no legitimate reason other than the script called for it, like something straight out of Batman Forever (which should not be the model for any superhero film). The script is too busy. As entertaining as the movie can be, it's also hugely frustrating because everything is rushed. There are subplots about other villains like the Rhino (Paul Giamatti), Peter's parents, Peter's out-of-nowhere best friendship with Harry, a major character's death, and nefarious Oscorp business shenanigans. In the end, the movie isn't really about anything. It's as if Sony, Webb, and the screenwriters were so concerned about building up the universe and having it pay off in future installments that they lost sight of making this current movie as good as it could be.
Should You See It?: Yes, if you're a fan of Spider-Man or comic book films in general. This is not high art, but it's considerably better (or maybe just fresher since they got all that origin stuff out of the way) than the first Amazing Spider-Man. But, Marvel has raised the bar so high with movies like The Avengers and Captain America: The Winter Soldier that this just feels like a step backwards.
Star Rating: *** out of 5 stars.
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