Movie Review: The Amazing Spider-Man 2

I just got back from watching The Amazing Spider-Man 2 and I'm in a quandary about how I feel about it.  I feel, though, I can't really talk about my reaction to this film without spoiling some parts of the movie.  So, this is a SPOILER WARNING. Please do not read this until after you've watched this movie if you don't want to know what happens.

My immediate reaction is that I liked and enjoyed this film, but I didn't think it was the greatest film either.  My biggest fear was that, with the three villains (Electro, Green Goblin and Rhino) that have been heavily advertised in this movie, the film would devolve into Spider-Man 3 where there was too much villain.  I definitely did not think the film was as bad or anywhere close as bad as Spider-Man 3.  But, I did think the movie suffered from too much going on.

One of the things that I find interesting about this reboot of the cinematic Spider-Man universe is tying everything to OSCORP, the corporation founded by Norman Osborne who, in the comic books, becomes the Green Goblin.  I like the idea of all these experiments going on to try to save the life of Osborne, including the work that Peter Parker's father was doing with spiders that inevitably led to the creation of Spider-Man.  But, at the same time, I felt it bogged down the film.  There is a lot of time that is spent with Peter trying to solve the mystery of why his parents left him with Uncle Ben and Aunt May that I honestly felt was not necessary to the central story.

But, the big thing that bugged me was the fact that they made Electro the main villain of the film.  I don't have anything against Electro and didn't really have a problem with Jamie Foxx's portrayal.  I did think his Max Dillon was a little cartoony, but I did like how they made him seem much more dangerous than the original comic version.  Although, I did think there was some inconsistencies as to how powerful he was.  One moment, he has almost god-like powers and, then, at the end, when he should technically be the most powerful, Spider-Man can almost fight him toe-to-toe.  I just felt his defeat was too easy given the fact that he was living electricity.  But, even that didn't bother me as much as the decision to use him as the main villain.  And, here's why...

And, again, here comes a major SPOILER.  So, consider yourself warned...

If they were going to feature the death of Gwen Stacey in this film, which is one of the most iconic Spider-Man stories of all time, then I felt that the main villain should have been the Green Goblin.  It just felt like, suddenly, Green Goblin shows up for five minutes at the end and is defeated quickly...but, not before Gwen Stacey makes her iconic fall to her death.

I wish that they had chosen to have Electro be in the third movie instead and just concentrated on Harry's becoming the Green Goblin.

I kind of like how they changed the dissolution of Harry's and Peter's friendship being about Peter's refusing to help Harry.  But, I also felt everything happened so fast because there was so much to concentrate on.  So, when Harry eventually does become the Green Goblin, there just doesn't seem to be a lot to savor.  His being a threat to Spider-Man doesn't feel as dangerous, especially since Spider-Man literally just defeated a villain with almost god-like powers.  So, for me, it just cheapened Gwen's death.

Thankfully, it was still powerful because the film does a fantastic job in developing the relationship between Peter and Gwen.  The great thing about Spider-Man is that it really is about his relationships, not just with girlfriends, but with his Aunt May.  And, these are the things that I found most enjoyable about the film.  Andrew Garfield (Peter Parker) and Emma Stone (Gwen Stacey) have just such wonderful chemistry together.  So, when Gwen does die, you can really feel Peter's pain.  I actually cried because the moment was so palpable.

The other chemistry that I loved was between Garfield and Sally Field as Aunt May. When I first heard Field was playing Aunt May in the first film, I raised an eyebrow.  But, she really does feel like Aunt May to me.  I love the way the two of them play off each other.  At one moment, they're having humorous banter and then a more heartfelt serious one.

Also, I must say that Garfield is a perfect Peter Parker.  I really enjoyed Tobey Maguire as Peter in the previous films, but Garfield just has the spirit of Peter down.  The way he handles the witty banter that we expect from Peter/Spider-Man is just so fun and enjoyable.  While I know he has expressed his looking forward to his contract ending, I really hope he does have a change of heart and continue to play the role as long as this current version remains in place.

What's interesting, though, about this film is that, while there are three different villains in the film, there's actually less action than one would expect from a comic book movie.  In Captain America: The Winter Soldier, I felt they balanced the story of the HYDRA take over of SHIELD well with really beautifully choreographed fight sequences.  In The Amazing Spider-Man 2, the action sequences are very spread out.  I don't need action every second because that can also be overbearing as well, especially if it is gratuitous, but I did think they needed to balance it a little more.

The epilogue of the film is obviously a set up for the announced Sinister Six film that is being planned.  This is also where they introduce the Rhino.  It's a fun sequence, although, it feels like they pretty much showed everything involving the Rhino in the previews.  So, there was no real surprise either.  It will be interesting to see how they do this film featuring six villains.  And, who will they be fighting?  Spider-Man?

Oh, and stay at least through the mid-credits for a scene from...X-Men: Days of Future Past.  I found this really interesting because that film is from 20th Century Fox and not Sony like the Spider-Man franchise.  I'm wondering if this means there could potentially be some crossover between those universes.  Although, ultimately, I want to see all these franchises back in the hands of Marvel Studios.


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