Amazing Spider-Man 2 is entertaining and fun, but at the end of the day, it rests in the shadows of superior superhero movies like Captain America: The Winter Soldier and Avengers. Andrew Garfield plays an excellent Spider-Man/Peter Parker with just the right amount of confidence vs. awkwardness, wittiness vs. humility, strength vs. vulnerability. Since the events of the first movie, our spandex-clad hero has grown into a popular, well-loved hero of New York City and a more capable web-swinger and butt-kicker. From very early on in the movie, we see a young man who loves being Spider-Man.
Jamie Foxx does a really great job playing Max Dillon, the man who suffers a terrible accident to become Electro. The blue-tinged villain is pretty cool, particularly late in the film when he really discovers the extent of his powers. But it is the early scenes as Dillon that impressed me the most. Foxx really plays against type as a severely awkward and broken man. Watching this poor man become a monster is heart-breaking, which is perhaps one of the reasons why the writers throw a couple more villains into the mix. If you’ve seen any trailers for the movie, then this won’t come as a surprise- Harry Osborn becomes the Green Goblin. Much like the Dillon characters, Osborn is far more interesting as a human than a super villain. Dane DeHaan, who did an amazing job playing another super-powered character in Chronicle, is one of the most intense and talented actors of the last few years. He just oozes creepiness as Osborn. A boardroom scene shortly after he takes control of Oscorp is the perfect example of how this young man can run such a powerful company. Unfortunately, once the transformation to the Green Goblin finally happens, the moment feels tacked on and unnecessary. Much like Spider-Man 3, the movie starts to feel a bit bloated with villains, both human and super. The film would have been stronger if the Green Goblin hadn’t made an appearance, but rather we had seen Osborn continue to spiral downward into anger and madness.
The on again, off again, on again, off again relationship between Peter Parker and love interest Gwen Stacy tends to go from cute to frustrating. Peter is haunted by the death of Stacy’s father from the first film and the promise Parker made to stay away from Gwen in order to keep her safe. Relationships are a core to Amazing Spider-Man 2: Peter Park and Gwen Stacy, Peter and his late father, Harry Osborn and his late father, Peter and Aunt May, Peter and Harry who were childhood friends, Max Dillon and Spider-Man. There are genuinely touching relationship moments throughout the entire movie for each of these pairings. But the story itself is very by-the-book predictable. Where Captain America: The Winter Soldier had fun and well-earned twists throughout and strong moral complexity, Amazing Spider-Man 2 seems to exist mostly to introduce elements for upcoming films in the franchise. Fans of the comics will recognize things all over the movie, not in subtle nods but in highlighted call outs. Who knows? Maybe the Sinister Six movie will come out and be so good that we’ll be grateful that this movie gave birth to it.
I saw the movie in IMAX 3D. The IMAX aspect is great, particularly during the web-swinging scenes. The CG in the movie can be a little obvious, so you clearly know that you’re watching an animated character flying between the buildings. But it’s still fun to watch, and the IMAX aspect ratio makes everything feel taller and more dizzying. But the 3D was distracting. Electro’s powers do look amazing in 3D, but the majority of the movie can be blurry and off-putting. There’s a lot of action and everything moves very quickly, and that does not create an ideal 3D situation. Your eyes are refocusing so often that it’s easy to lose track of what’s going on and you see two images often.
All in all, I enjoyed the movie. The cast was great for the most part, Spidey is always funny and exciting to watch, and there are some really strong moments between the characters. But as a whole package, there was just too much shoved in there. Amazing Spider-Man 2 wasn’t great, but it was still pretty good.