Amazing Spider-Man 2
Director: Marc Webb
Writers: Alex Kurtzman, Roberto Orci, & Jeff Pinkner
Starring: Andrew Garfield, Emma Stone, Jamie Foxx, & Dane Dehaan
We are just a month away from the 10 year anniversary to the release of Spider-Man 2 starring Tobey Maguire. I could say that movie stoked the fire that is my love for comic books but that could just be nostalgia talking. It would be hard to ignore the success of that film, though. Some say it is the best superhero movie ever made but superhero movies have come a long way since then. The sequel to Amazing Spider-Man, for instance, feels more like a comic book than anything I’ve seen before and if you take a contrast of the character of Spider-Man in Sam Raimi’s and that of the one in the Marc Webb series, you will see just how wrong Tobey Maguire was for the role. What we needed was a quick-witted, conflicted, and morally burdened Spider-Man; let me tell you why I think Andrew Garfield exceeded my expectations in Amazing Spider-Man 2.
The movie opens with the same flashback of Mary and Richard Parker leaving a small Peter with his Aunt and Uncle, but the scene continues to show where they went. They board a private jet, and while in the air, it becomes hijacked by a hit-man sent to kill the Parkers. Richard is desperately trying to upload a project to a place called Roosevelt while trying to fight off their assailant. He has just enough time to finish the upload before the plane crashes.
In the present, Peter Parker is late to his own High School graduation. You know, typical superhero problems, saving the people of New York City but he gets a call from Gwen Stacy to see where he is. This clarifies that Peter WAS NOT able to keep his promise with Captain George Stacy that he would leave Gwen out of danger. We then see the ghost of the captain to haunt Peter as he chases down Aleksei Sytsevich, A.K.A. Rhino (Paul Giamatti). I love this because it shows just how riddled with guilt Peter really is. As shitty as it is to say, in my opinion, a tortured Spider-Man is the best Spider-Man. While trying to take out Aleksei, an innocent bystander gets in the way and Spider-Man has to save him. The bystander is Max Dillon (Jamie Foxx), scientist for Oscorp and he seems to have a real soft spot for Spider-Man. After Spidey brushes Max off and tells him, “Hey, you’re my ears out here,” Dillon sees Spider-Man as a close friend; something Max didn’t seem to know anything about as a lonely scientist. After Aleksei is apprehended, Peter swings on over to his graduation and makes it just in the nick of time. He then has a discussion with Gwen stating that he has to keep his promise to her father and end their relationship.
Harry Osborn (Dane DeHaan) is introduced in this film as the childhood friend to Peter who was around when he was dealing with the disappearance of his parents. Harry visits his terminal Father, Norman (Chris Cooper), on his deathbed. Harry learns of a hereditary disease that he undoubtedly has and has just been informed that the more debilitating effects begin at age 26 or 27, which is how old Harry is now. Norman gives Harry an octagon shaped device that apparently holds all his life’s work in trying to cure the disease. The next day, Harry is appointed CEO of Oscorp due to his father’s passing.
Max Dillon is in high spirits now that he’s best friends with the friendly neighborhood Spider-Man, but at work, he deals with co-workers berating him, and projects that he doesn’t get credit for, like the new city power grid he designed. When Max is doing some maintenance in one of the Oscorp Laboratories, he props himself on the railing to reach a cable but falls into a tank of genetically modified eels that all attack him immediately. Max Dillon has been transformed into Electro and stumbles into Time Square looking for help. When the police attempt to take Max into custody, his anger gets the best of him. Spider-Man swings in to mediate the situation and Electro realizes that Spider-Man isn’t his friend at all. This first fight sequence between them is short but very defining in how much Spider-Man is able to sympathize for any other given character; even if that character is threatening the lives of innocent people. He can still comprehend the possibility of a misunderstanding and try and calm things down.
So now we have been introduced to 3 villains by the time we’ve gotten 30 minutes into the film. This is a lesson Sam Raimi learned in Spider-man 3. There is a such thing as too many villains but this isn’t just a sequel to Amazing Spider-Man. This is also the origin story of the Sinister Six, and Marc Webb is letting that little web unfold nice and slowly. Each character gets just the right amount of screen time. Aleksei is the focus point of that first fight scene, but he doesn’t return till the end of the film. Paul Giamatti is a great casting for the part but I wasn’t exactly thrilled with his Russian accent. Harry is dealing with the fact that he is dying and desperately trying to figure out his options. When he finds out Spider-Man’s DNA might hold a cure for him, he reaches out to Peter to get in touch with the web slinger. When Peter acts hesitant in helping him, it creates an animosity between the old friends and Harry takes things into his own hands.
Max Dillon is the primary villain in the story but that aspect is not the main focus point of the film; it’s the Peter/Gwen love story. Gwen wants to study at Oxford, and Peter struggles with his promise to Captain Stacy. He wants to be with Gwen, but can’t fathom the risk of getting her hurt the same way he feels he’s responsible for the death of her father. This is the exact same aspect of the story that shined brightest in the first film; primarily due to the directing by Marc Webb. He has the ability to unravel a heart-wrenching love story, while giving you greater hints to the mystery of his parents.
There is no shortage of Easter eggs in this movie. As we have become used to, they are usually useless eggs that don’t ever develop into anything. Fortunately, all the hints in ASM2 seem to be building toward the Sinister Six spin-off film. As I said, we are introduced to three villains early on, but throughout the movie, we get hints at who the other three sinister villains might be. Sony has stated that the group will not stick to any specific line-up but that they will be pulling together the baddest group of baddies they have in their cannon. One of the co-workers of Max Dillon that was berating him was Alistair Smythe (B.J. Novak), who, in the comics, becomes The Ultimate Spider-Slayer. Colm Feore was originally credited on IMDB as playing Adrian Toomes A.K.A. The Vulture but sadly was re-cast as Donald Menken, the personal assistant to Norman Osborn in the comics. I think my personal favorite Easter egg was Felicity Jones playing Felicia, the assistant to Harry Osborn. She originally popped up on IMDB as playing Felicia Hardy (they’ve since removed the last name), A.K.A. The Black Cat. She could potentially be a love interest in the next film, or she could be the 6th and only female member of the Sinister Six. We will have to wait and see. Lastly, we finally learn who the mysterious shadowed man is from the end-credit scene of ASM. Most people seem to be incredibly disappointed with this stating that it was a big let-down. I absolutely disagree. The mysterious shadowed man is none other than Gustav Fiers, A.K.A. The Gentleman and the man who originally put the Sinister Six together. I don’t see how that’s a let-down when Sony has been hinting at the Sinister Six all along. Using The Gentleman to orchestrate it all seems like the obvious answer.
The cast for this movie really came together in a fantastic way. Andrew Garfield pulled off the ‘Amazing’ part of his role pretty damn well. Emma Stone played my favorite type of girl; the kind not willing to let others make her decisions for her. Peter doesn’t want to risk her life, but Gwen doesn’t care what Peter wants. She is a self-sufficient woman and she doesn’t need Peter to protect her. Jamie Foxx layed on the cheese pretty thick at times, but it was the kind of cheese you want with your Spider-Man; the kind straight from a comic book. Even if you can’t appreciate those cheesy moments, it will be hard for anyone not to enjoy the eye-popping CGI and 3D effects going on in ASM2; especially the part where Electro turns himself into pure energy and travels through electrical lines. I absolutely loved that effect, but I was more happy at the fact that it wasn’t over-commercialized in the trailers. I got a special kind of giddy about that effect because I didn’t see it coming and it completely surprised me with how good it all looked.
Dane Dehaan will always be loved by me, but I will admit that his sinister smile while he was in Green Goblin get-up was almost too funny not to laugh. I had to think hard for those small issues I had but the major thing that upset me was the mid-credit scene in which we see Mystique (Jennifer Lawrence) kicking some serious ass. The clip is awesome all around, but it doesn’t belong in a Spider-Man movie. I realize that it was all a part of the deal with Warner Brothers to get Marc Webb to direct the sequel but I feel tricked by the studios. I feel that they knew that this type of marketing can really confuse the fan base but they did it anyway and, furthermore, they banked on it.
Overall, this was an incredible follow-up in the Amazing Spider-Man franchise and it certainly exceeded my expectations even as someone who loved the first one. I shouldn’t have been misled about the cross-over, but all the other emotions I run through within the two and a half hours I was sitting in the theatre assuredly make up for that. I give The Amazing Spider-Man 2 5 out of 5 Nerd Skulls.
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