Marc Webb’s Amazing Spider-Man 2 swings over its predecessor, and rather successfully at that. Since the reboot, fans have been on the fence about whether or not they feel accepting towards another Spider-Man, having to contend with another film universe entirely. While I enjoyed the spitfire out of the first Amazing Spider-Man, critics and fans’ reaction was a general ‘eh’, with no one significantly impressed. This brings us to ASM2.
Without the shackles of a backstory everyone knows, Webb and company are able to take Spider-Man and shoot him right into the action. Of course we’re still privy to a wee bit of Parker history, as Richard and Mary Parker’s fate is revealed. Unfortunately, therein lays the movie’s first problem: its irrelevance. There’s a significant amount of time building up the intrigue that went behind Peter’s parents and their flight out of New York, but in the end, it doesn’t result in anything substantial, only adding extra fluff.
As for Spider-Man, Andrew Garfield clearly enjoys inhabiting the role, taking a more classic look to the Spidey outfit and delivering all his quips with a zany and immensely entertaining gusto. Truly, Spider-Man gets a chance to shine, but we can’t forget about Emma Stone as Gwen Stacy. If you’ve read the comics, or know anything about Spider-Man history in general, then her fate should come as no surprise, yet that doesn’t take away from the heartbreak and pain we, and Spider-Man/Peter Parker, endure. Regardless, her cheerful demeanor and refusal to back down in the face of challenges, be they having a superhero boyfriend, or trying to figure out what’s next after high school, make Emma Stone’s Gwen Stacy a force to be reckoned with.
What about the villains, you might be asking. Here’s the second problem. Jamie Foxx’s Electro, is comically over-the-top, yet simultaneously frightening, is a living dynamo, the likes of which Spider-Man has never faced; but what about Max Dillon, the man who becomes Electro? Well, there’s never clear motivation in moving from Point A to Point B, other than the screenwriter deciding, “Hey, let’s have Electro hate Spider-Man, because why not?” The journey from average science geek to power mad super-villain is not so much a journey, but an inebriated stroll.
Dane DeHaan’s Harry Osborn is something of a playboy, a trait his comic book counterpart didn’t really share, and his transition into the Green Goblin is abrupt and jarring. Sure, his motivation is slightly more clear-cut, but his insane hatred towards our protagonist also doesn’t make the largest amount of sense. Even so, DeHaan takes the role and shoots it up with a little extra pizzazz, in turn having him stand out, possibly most of all.
Amazing Spider-Man 2 definitely tops the first ASM despite the various problems, like including the Rhino for little to no reason, or having meaningless plot points that sometimes aren’t resolved, it’s a wonderful, funny, sometimes scary, and action-packed good time.