Dear studio heads, just because you’re making a tent-pole movie (films that are guaranteed to make large amounts of money) doesn’t mean that they have to be long. In fact less is more sometimes. “The Amazing Spider-Man 2” is a bit longer than necessary and stuffed with plot points. It isn’t the best super hero film of the summer, but it’s a fun ride.
The film opens with a backstory on Richard Parker (Campbell Scott) uncovering evil at Oscorp, and fleeing after destroying fourteen years worth of work there. You can guess what becomes of him and his wife. Present day Peter Parker (Andrew Garfield) is at home flying between the skyscrapers of New York City, but more importantly in his skin (or suit) as Spider-Man. He and on-again off-again girlfriend, Gwen Stacy (Emma Stone), have just graduated high school. Even though Peter is plagued by the Gwen’s father’s ghost (kind of) he struggles with giving into love and the promise he made to her father.
The chemistry between Stone and Garfield is genuine and you either reminisce on times that you’ve felt that way or envy their relationship as a viewer. That being said, we spend the first hour of the film setting up the back and forth forbidden love they share. In the mean time, uber stereotypical nerd Max Dillon (Jamie Foxx) is saved by Spider-Man. With extreme social issues and the desire to be known, Max becomes obsessed with Spider-Man because of their brief encounter. Foxx's comic timing helps make Max somewhat humorous as a character I've never seen in life. Maybe that's the point? He's rarely noticed. Another subplot is the death of Norman Osborn (Chris Cooper), which brings his son Harry (Dane DeHaan) back into town and Peter’s life. Before his father dies, Harry learns that he has a genetic disease that will kill him soon. I really like DeHaan as an actor. He generally plays troubled youths, and he doesn't overplay the role too much here.
With the stage set for volatile people to become villains, they do. Max has an accident at Oscorp, turning him into Electro. Harry believes he needs Spider-Man’s blood to live and goes after it.
Spoiler Alerts in the next paragraph. Skip down one if you haven’t seen the film.
This film proves that cutting an amazing trailer can increase ticket sales. I went into the movie thinking Spidey would have an epic battle with two villains, Electro and Green Goblin, at the same time. I also thought Rhino would be seen a lot more. I was disappointed in the fact that these villains faced Spider-Man one at a time, and more so that Green Goblin and Rhino got about five minutes of screen time each. I love a slow burn to the climactic big fight, but in comparison to the trailer the film was anti-climactic. Is it just me or does it not make sense that Richard Parker supposedly killed all the super spiders in the past but Harry Osborne can’t find one in the present day? Didn’t Peter get bit by one?
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The film excels in pockets mainly surrounding the relationships of Peter Parker. He and Gwen have and undeniable bond. The relationship between Peter and Aunt May (Sally Field) shows years of life condensed to beautiful moments on screen. Even the friendship between Peter and Harry is heart warming. Unfortunately, there’s a disconnect between the human moments and other plot points in the film.
Overall, “The Amazing Spider-Man 2” is an entertaining film. It’s worth seeing in theaters to see some of the best web slinging, high flying action of the Spidey franchise (Tobey Maguire included). The writers definitely went after the light hearted Spider-Man of the comics and it translates. Yet, in comparison to other super hero films of late it has a lot of fat to trim to compete.