Movie Review: The Amazing Spider-Man 2

The Amazing Spider-Man 2 starring Andrew Garfield and Emma Stone

Warning: Major Spoilers!

The more things change, the more they stay the same. As you’ve probably heard, Spiderman is joining the Marvel Cinematic Universe in a couple of Avengers films in 2016/7. While this is great news for Marvel fans it’s come at a high price – we seem to have lost Andrew Garfield from the title role. Yet again a sequel that didn’t earn as much as it should have, was packed with multiple villains and received lukewarm reviews has caused the franchise to reboot. Sound familiar? It’s Spiderman 3 all over again. I’ll be straight up with you. I liked Spiderman 3. I liked this film. Neither are awful, but neither are as good as they should have been. And I’m very disappointed if we’ve lost Andrew Garfield – he was definitely better than Tobey Maguire’s version of Peter Parker/Spiderman.

What went wrong with Spiderman 3 was to introduce Venom (Topher Grace) another villain (in addition to New Goblin, Sandman and the Alien Symbiote which corrupts Peter) in the last 30 mins. He gets created. He allies with Sandman (whose got barely any screen time anyway). He dies. Very rushed, very predictable and so stupid because everyone could see a solution (leaving Venom’s creation to be a cliffhanger at the end of the film) that could have saved the film’s ending.

So when the Amazing Spider-Man 2 revealed in it’s trailers than 3 villains were present, and all 3 being introduced for the first term in this film, it started ringing alarm bells in a few people’s heads. However, while Max Dillon/Electro (Jamie Foxx) and Harry Osborn/Green Goblin (Dane DeHaan) share the villainous spotlight, the other villain Rhino (Paul Giamatti) is relegated to a 5 minute confrontation at both ends of the film, probably leading to a greater role in the (now-defunct) sequel. The battle scenes between Spider-Man and the various villains are all very good (but Sony made the unforgivably stupid decision to show 70-80% of those scenes in the 5, 5! trailers it released – which really lessened any surprise factor). Electro was billed as the main villain for the film, but it’s arguably DeHaan’s Goblin which comes off better. Both are sympathetic characters, but DeHaan’s performance and journey is a cut above Jamie Foxx’s (more down to the scripting than Foxx).

The film undeniably looks great and has a key sense of style. The musical score, by the bizarre combination of the ever present Hans Zimmer, the Magnificent Six (I’ve never heard of them either) and Pharrell Williams, somehow works – listen to ‘We’re Best Friends’ – it’s one of Zimmer’s best tracks. However where the film really succeeds is Emma Stone. She is both the reason i prefer the 2 amazing-spider-man’s to the Sam Raimi trilogy (seriously how has Kirsten Dunst got another acting part again after those – she was pathetically bad as Mary Jane in the original trilogy!) and the reason this film is actually a fitting note to end on for Garfield. Gwen Stacy (stone) is a perfect, smart, funny, sexy love interest for Peter and her on screen chemistry with Garfield really shines through (unsurprising considering they’re an actual couple). Garfield and Stone really sell the film’s emotional core, and if anyone is a big fan of this film I’d bet it’s because of them. Traditionally the second film in a superhero trilogy (though this is now unlikely to get a 3rd film) either throws the couple together (Superman II, Iron Man 2) or splits them apart (The Dark Knight, Spiderman 2) – and either only works if you genuinely care about them both. You really do here – which makes the finale all the more heart breaking (MAJOR SPOILER WARNING!!!).

After Gwen saves Peter from Electro and the two work together to kill him (the first time a villain has been deliberately killed in a spiderman film – seriously check the others – they either escape, get captured or find various stupid ways of accidentally committing suicide) and the two reunite and reaffirm their love for each other – it looks like the film might end on a high. One of the three friends i watched this with had a (correct) bad feeling when Gwen showed up at the final battle ‘why is she here, no, no, no this isn’t good!’ while another clung to the fact that Marvel has never been brave enough to kill a major character off. The last superhero film to do that was The Dark Knight. But the battle between Peter and Green Goblin does lead to a significant death – Gwen’s. This leads the film to end on a very downbeat (but bold note) as after some depression, soul-searching and finally watching a video of a speech Gwen made Peter resumes being Spiderman after a long absence in time to save a kid from Rhino, who backed by Oscorp (Harry’s company) has gone on the rampage.

Overall great acting, a weird but great soundtrack, but too many characters and sub-plots squeezed into a 2 hour film. Should have done a Dark Knight Rises and gone on for an extra 30 mins.

Rating: 3.5 out of 5

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