Friday, May 2, 2014

The Amazing Spider-Man 2 Movie Review

Andrew Garfield is the Amazing Spider-Man

Let's Go Catch a Spider

Andrew Garfield comes to play, easing into the role of everyone's favorite web-slinger after a shaky debut in The Amazing Spider-Man. I still prefer Tobey Maguire, but director Mark Webb finally lets his Spidey do more than dodge bullets and spin webs in The Amazing Spider-Man 2. Credit an influx of humor (almost exclusively for Garfield) and a refreshing storyline that was sorely missing in the 2012 reboot. It's not quite perfect (i.e. shaky villains) but Spidey seems to be on the right track, even if he's no longer Marvel's top draw.

Rotten Tomatoes Plot: We've always known that Spider-Man's most important battle has been within himself: the struggle between the ordinary obligations of Peter Parker and the extraordinary responsibilities of Spider-Man. But in The Amazing Spider-Man 2, Peter Parker finds that a greater conflict lies ahead. It's great to be Spider-Man (Andrew Garfield). For Peter Parker, there's no feeling quite like swinging between skyscrapers, embracing being the hero, and spending time with Gwen (Emma Stone). But being Spider-Man comes at a price: only Spider-Man can protect his fellow New Yorkers from the formidable villains that threaten the city. With the emergence of Electro (Jamie Foxx), Peter must confront a foe far more powerful than he. And as his old friend, Harry Osborn (Dane DeHaan), returns, Peter comes to realize that all of his enemies have one thing in common: OsCorp.

What’s Best: Spidey 2 opens strong, with a daring aerial escape for Richard Parker (Campbell Scott) and continues on with the franchise's best screenplay (James Vanderbilt) since 2004's Spider-Man 2. Webb wisely takes his time developing his characters, particularly OsCorp pansy Max (Foxx) and the on/off screen duo of Garfield & Stone. I even dug a new Harry... at least until he became Green Goblin (thankfully late in the movie.) There's a lot more humor this time around, but room for more (Where's J.J. Jameson, et all?) Special effects are, for the most part impressive... but still a notch or two below those found in Sam Raimi's superior trilogy. The Spider-Man universe is packed with interesting characters; but Webb seems reluctant to use them. Open up, dude.

What’s Not: Can you say déjà vu? Spidey once again has to fend off not one, not two but three bad guys (in addition to the NYPD, public opinion, etc.) Even worse, each villain appears weaker than the next. Foxx's Electro has the most potential, but Webb & Co. toss away the Academy Award winner's best asset... comedy, in order to show off even more CGI. Big mistake. Then it's time for the Green Goblin... again. What's the deal? Is he working on commission, or what? By the time you get to Rhino, the movie is essentially over. Unfortunately, the latter's inclusion is downright silly (and throwaway at best.) A first-year film student could come up with a better cliffhanger than this. It's not easy to get excited over a guy with a bad Russian accent, in a tin-foil rhinoceros suit.

Best Line: Peter plays the "lost little boy" routine very well, culminating in a friendly exchange with an Oxford College receptionist, 'I'm sorry to bother you My Fair Lady.' How ironic, especially when you consider Garfield is British. I'll take that any day of the week over Electro's jive, 'It's my birthday: Now it's time for me to light my candles.' Ugh.

Overall: I was this close to grading it a B... before Rhino burst onto the scene, in one of the worst final five minutes of a summer blockbuster ever. That said, even a runaway rhinoceros can't undo the many improvements made to the Spidey franchise. Sure, Aunt May still doesn't have gray hair (how do you miss that?) and Mary Jane remains M.I.A., but Garfield has grown into the suit (at last) and looks capable of handling at least two or three more films. It seems they already have their bad guy (Rhino) for #3, but who knows... Maybe someone will come up with a better idea, like Dr. Doom, Kingpin or Kraven the Hunter. Spider-Man remains my favorite comic book character, and it's nice to see him headed in the right direction.