Spidey is back in The Amazing Spider-Man 2, a sequel to the 2012 reboot staring Andrew Garfield as the web-swinging hero. He seems to really be getting the hang of things, stepping in to help the police and tossing witty comments and insults to the bad guys, all while attempting to tip his public image to one of a more favorable sort. Of course that’s just one side of Spider-Man. The man behind the mask, Peter Parker, is dealing with a balancing act of his own by the name of Gwen Stacy.
Captain George Stacy’s last dying words to Spider-Man were to leave Gwen (Emma Stone) out of the picture. Both he and Spidey knew this was for the best, because although Peter loves her, Gwen’s safety would always be at risk while he donned red and blue spandex. The ghost of Captain Stacy aside, this theme is prevalent throughout and is really the driving force behind this sequel and offers up rewarding emotional grounding.
The introduction of Harry Osborne is another highlight. Played to sinister excellence by rising star Dane DeHaan, Harry is a mixed up twenty year-old who takes the reigns of Oscorp after his father dies. He’s been away at boarding school, pushed aside from his father’s life, and feels at a loss of friends in New York City. When his childhood friend Peter Parker shows up to offer his condolences, Osborn is resistant at first before realizing that maybe someone truly cares for him. But before long he puts two-and-two together a slowly turns into one of Spider-Man’s most infamous nemeses, Green Goblin.
Where the film fails is in it’s length. The intro is a continuation of Peter’s parent’s story on the run from Oscorp, that in the end, is completely unnecessary and adds nothing except an additional twenty or so minutes. In the same vein is the villain Electro, played by Jamie Foxx. He adds an additional origin story to the mix, alongside Harry Osborn’s, that again was utterly nonessential to the events of the film. Some of the best remembered villains in history were Bond villains and they didn’t require an origin story. They were just there, representing evil with their own justified intentions.
It was good to see Aunt May have a more prominent role and Peter's friendship with Harry felt genuine from the start. But it’s his love life with Gwen Stacy at the forefront that resonates, resulting in a truly gratifying character arc for Peter Parker. In the end, it’s not the effects or amount of action, but Peter/Spider-Man’s relationships and their true-to-life complications, that add real enjoyment to this muddled film. [C]
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