Spiders can have problems, too.
The last time we left Peter Parker (Andrew Garfield) he was just a punk, high school kid that had a smart and hot girlfriend, Gwen Stacy (Emma Stone), a loving, supportive aunt (Sally Field), and was also saving the day, 24 hours a day, seven days a week as the web-slinging, wall-climbing, friendly neighborhood superhero known as Spider-Man. Yes, that little Peter Parker grew up to be quite a somebody and now that he’s graduated high school, he’s got to look forward – which means that some changes may have to be made. That means no more girlfriend; no more other priorities; and no more distractions to take him away from what really matters: Saving the day and finding out more about his parents’ pasts. However, he may have to put all of those plans on hold when Oscorp employee, and self-declared, Spider-Man’s number one biggest fan, Max Dillon (Jamie Foxx) gets electrocuted and falls into a pool of electric eels, turning him into what some will know as “Electro”. He’s dangerous, but so is Harry Osborn (Dane DeHaan), the son of rich billionaire Norman (Chris Cooper) who has just recently passed-away due to a radiation infection, leaving his son all of the estate and plenty of power in the palm of his hands. Almost too much, some would say.
Growing up on the Raimi-Maguire Spider-Man movies, it should come as no surprise to anyone that I wasn’t the biggest fan of the first Amazing Spider-Man. First of all, I knew it was all made as a way to ensure that Sony would be able to keep the rights to the Spider-Man name and brand, and because of that, was made and released literally five years after the original franchise ended. In my book, that’s way too soon, especially for a franchise that clearly was close to me, regardless of how crappy that third one-of-a-turd turned out to be.
Regardless, now that we have a sequel to the re-boot and unsurprisingly, I come off with a little bit of the same feelings that I had before: “Meh”. But this time, with a bit more oomph. Just a little bit.
See, I think where most of this movie’s charm comes from is in the way that Marc Webb does not give up on making a single-sequence here the least bit exciting or entertaining. Sure, the action scenes are a romp-and-a-half by how much CGI he’s able to throw at us, without ever making it seem like total overkill, but he’s even able to make the character-driven scenes pop with a little more energy than one would expect from something so up-and-moving all of the time. Which for a two-hour-and-twenty-minute-movie, can get a bit tiring, but considering that this movie begins with a car-chase through the streets of NYC, and ends with a mono-e-mono duel in the same place, I think it’s pretty safe to say that I got all of the action that I wanted, but not without the fun, of course.
That’s why Marc Webb, despite initially not knowing what to think of him as director for the first movie, really does deserves to keep this franchise under his name. At least for now; that is until he pulls a stunt like this and burns everybody’s corneas, as well as their memories of what a Spider-Man movie should be.
Sorry, people. I’ll still never be able to get over that. Never, ever.
Yet though, I find myself oddly perplexed by this movie because while it is definitely fun, exciting and thrilling, there’s still something about this story that feels a bit hollow, yet at the same time, totally shouldn’t be. It’s almost like the third Raimi movie, except that this time, it seems like everybody behind-the-camera is actually trying to make sure that they can make sense of all the numerous subplots, characters and conflicts, while also still being able to deliver the goods on the action-element of this movie. More often than not, the effort works and makes it seem as if this was created by those who care about making a lick of sense, but other times, it doesn’t really seem to matter what makes sense or what doesn’t, because there’s sometimes nothing really there.
For instance, this whole story is centered around the fact that Peter wants to discover more about his parents, their lives, their professions and why exactly they decided to leave him with his aunt and uncle on that one, fateful day. It makes sense why he would and it would have been able to bring out some raw emotions within Pete himself, but it never really does much except just have Pete running all around New York, skateboard in hand, eyes wandering all of the place and a confused-look on his face practically the whole time whenever he’s reading or seeing a hidden-document for the first time.
But that’s just me reaching for something that isn’t there, because basically, this is just a story about Peter Parker’s one crazy summer after high school ended. He gets to break-up, and get back together with his sweetheart numerous times; he gets a chance to hang out with old pals; he gets to walk around the streets; do his own laundry; talk-back to his aunt; be rebellious; swing; fight crime; beat-up baddies; and get in all sorts of trouble with those who are closest to him. That’s pretty much all there is to this story, but rather than make it as simple and easy as that, the movie decides to throw layer, upon layer, upon layer, until there’s too many layers to begin with. It’s almost like freakin’ ogres!
That said, it’s still entertaining to watch Pete do all of this fun and wacky stuff with his summer, because Andrew Garfield is such a joy to watch play him. I’ll admit it, I was a bit too hard on Garfield in the first movie, which may have to do with the fact that I was just getting over not being able to see Tobey don the red-and-blue jump-suit any longer. But now that I’ve been able to let it all sink in, I have to say that I was really astonished by how natural Garfield is in this role; he’s funny, without being brass; he’s charming, without being too cutesy; and he’s nervous, without being too fidgety. He’s the perfect 30-year-old to play an 18-year-old teenager, and it makes me happy to know that this kid could literally do this role for the next ten years or so, and I will not get bored once. He’s that good. Although, I’ll still stand by Tobey no matter what.
Always got your back, Tobes.
Joining Garfield once again is his real-life, off-screen-hottie Emma Stone, playing Gwen Stacy, the type of gal every guy in high school wanted to go out with, after high school was already over and done with. Stone, like Garfield, fits all of the perfect requirements with what makes her character lovable, as well as sympathetic, even when all sorts of chaos and mayhem is occurring around her and she refuses to leave. Don’t get it twisted though, because she’s not a damsel-in-distress by any means; sometimes, she may even know a little thing or two more than her boyf himself. That’s why it’s not only a blast to watch Stone do her thing and play, what is essentially way past her own, actual age, but to also see how her and Garfield make great use of their chemistry for the betterment of this movie and how its emotional-core is built stronger through them. Hell, it makes me even not want to see M.J. pop her little, red head in.
As for the villains, despite there being two more than the first movie, it never felt too over-crowded for me – just too much that was left undeveloped. More specifically in the case of Harry Osborne who, through Dane DeHaan, is able to become a bit of a punk-ass kid that has an attitude problem, but still doesn’t really reach the heights of “psychopath” that the movie so clearly and dearly wants him to reach for and grab. DeHaan is good in the role, however, it does seem like it’s his weakest to-date when he starts yelling and having to act all serious, yet goofy and over-the-top at the same time. Regardless of whatever else the guy’s done in the past couple of years, being both “goofy” and “over-the-top” is not a right fit for him, and I felt like somebody should have known that right from the get-go. He tries with it, but by the end, I felt like Willem Dafoe was bound to pop-out of the infamous mirror at any second.
The better villain of the three is Jamie Foxx as Electro, which moreso has to do with the way the FX team really paid close attention to this character and making him work in every which way. Foxx is fine when he’s Max Dillon, because he’s in human-form and we’re able to see him actually act, but once he becomes Electro, all we really see is some glowing, blue-light floating around from place-to-place, blasting everything with his magic hands. We know this too, because everytime Electro does blow shit up, something like Skrillex blasts through the speakers and makes it seem like you’re not necessarily in a theater, but a wild and crazy rave. Sadly, without the ecstasy.
Still though, as much as I may make a joke about it, the creators behind this really felt confident enough with Electro in terms of the way he looks, acts and proposes a threat to Spidey, which makes me wonder why they didn’t just give him his own movie and leave all of the Green Goblin and Rhino stuff until a tad bit later? Oh yeah, and speaking of Rhino, well, I think I’ve already said too much. Just see the movie and you’ll know what I am talking about.
Consensus: May have handled more than it rightfully should have, the Amazing Spider-Man 2 squanders a great villain in Electro, but leaves the rest of the movie a fun, exciting blockbuster that doesn’t go for the big, or heavy thoughts, but just wants you to get ready for the rest of the summer and all of the joys it may, or may not, be able to bring to you. Hey, have to say, that sounds good enough for me.
8 / 10 = Matinee!!