“The Amazing Spider-Man 2” is one of summer 2014’s most anticipated films. Now that it is finally here, the audiences are looking to see if the webslinger series will continue to make due on promises made in the first film.
The film opens with Aleksei Sytsevich (Paul Giamatti) rampaging through New York City with a truck full of vials filled with plutonium. Spider-Man swoops in to save the day, as his high school graduation ceremony is kicking off across town. The film progresses with Peter still deciding how to honor his promise to Captain Stacy and stay with Gwen at the same time. With the appearance of Electro (Jamie Foxx), and later the Green Goblin (Dane DeHaan), much of that decision is removed from his hands as Gwen helps Peter save New York City from disaster.
That is just a rough summary, as I would hate to provide spoilers when the filmmakers have tried so hard to keep much of the films secrets under-wraps. ASM2 moves Spider-Man, his friends, family and enemies along to a new place in the cinematic universe.
ASM2 again strives to capture the tone of the comic books, with a mix of humor, action and serious character development. And for the most part, it accomplishes it. The romance between Parker and Stacy is one of the strongest points in the film, as the chemistry between the two actors is palpable. There are more than a few gags, as Parker keeps it light while saving the city.
One of the weaker points in the film, besides the obvious wasting of Paul Giamatti’s Rhino, and Giamatti in general, is Electro. Max Dillon becomes the villain Electro after an accident within the OSCORP power grids. And man, is it just a sad situation. Max is a guy who is generally invisible to the world, and knows it. When Spider-Man tells him he needs him, he takes it seriously. And when Spider-Man fails to recognize him later, after his unfortunate transformation, all the rage and hurt of his life bubbles to the surface. Audiences will generally feel bad for Electro, while gaping at the awesome special effects that go into creating the character.
The effects used for Electro go on to create one of the more involved fights between hero and villain than in recent comic films. This isn’t a blind fistfight like in “Man of Steel” nor is it a crafty game of chess a la Loki’s preferred methods of scheming. Both characters are somewhat evenly matched in brilliance, and plot out their next move, even as they execute their current one. Electro gains the ability to become pure energy and flow through the grids, and Spidey has a hard time keeping up, let alone landing a hit, and it is fantastic how it just looks.
But in the end, the villains are relegated to the shadows, as this is really a movie about Spider-Man, and Peter Parker’s, development. The filmmakers make good on filling us in on the mystery of his parents, which plays a far bigger part in the OSCOPR family mythos than before. Peter learns hard truths and faces a tough reality, and by the end of the movie we aren’t quite sure where his head is.
Frankly, though, ASM2 is just one massive teaser trailer for the bigger Spider-Man universe. Once Harry Osborne has made the transition to the Green Goblin, we only get a short time with the villain. Moreover, we get looks at Doctor Octopus, Vulture and Rhino’s gear in the OSCORP vaults. Clearly, if Sony hadn’t announced the Sinister Six film already, this is what the series is building towards. Even with Marvel building the Cinematic Universe, we have yet to see a successful villain team-up, instead being treated to villain overkill with different modus operandi. Hopefully Sony has learned from their sin that was “Spider-Man 3” and knows how to manage this undertaking.
“The Amazing Spider-Man 2” represents another A effort from Sony to keep the webcrawler on the big screen. The door is wide open for possibilities, and this sequel lives up to the promises made. Some editing challenges face the movie, just from the sheer number of storylines being consolidated into one arch by the conclusion, but is a genuinely wild ride. Even the 3D proves beneficial here, and when Spider-Man is swinging through the streets of New York, you will be feeling less than steady at the end of the sequence.
The film is rated PG-13 for sci fi action and violence.