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May 27, 2020








The Amazing Spider-man 2

The Amazing Spider-man 2 (PG-13)
Film Review: May 8, 2014


The Amazing Spider-Man 2 (PG-13)

Peter Parker continues superheroing while trying to figure out his personal relationships in The Amazing Spider-Man 2, a continuation of the reboot Spider-Man series begun in 2012. 
As the movie opens, we see a bit of the backstory involving Richard (Campbell Scott) and Mary (Embeth Davidtz) Parker, Peter’s parents. When we see now-orphaned, nearly grown Peter (Andrew Garfield) many years later, he is on the verge of graduating from high school, missing girlfriend Gwen Stacy’s (Emma Stone) valedictorian speech because his Spandexed alter-ego Spider-Man is busy chasing criminals stealing vials of, let’s say, radioactive redherringtium from OsCorp. Peter shows up just in time to collect his diploma and plant a big smacker on Gwen. But later, he finds himself plagued by doubts about their relationship. He sees Gwen’s father, the late police Capt. Stacy (Denis Leary), everywhere he goes, a ghostly reminder of his promise in the last movie to his girlfriend’s dying father that he stay away from Gwen. Papa Stacy had predicted that whoever was close to Peter would become a target of Spider-Man’s enemies. Refreshingly, Gwen and Peter talked about Gwen’s father’s request — it’s not his choice, Gwen tells Peter. But Peter still feels like they shouldn’t be together.  
Meanwhile, both Gwen and Spider-Man, at separate times, have brief chance meetings with Max Dillon (Jamie Foxx), a shy, nerdy engineer at OsCorp. When an accident involving electricity and a tank full of eels — but of course — turns Max into an electricity conduit, he becomes a live wire of emotional instability and unfocused power who calls himself Electro. After a misunderstanding has him believing Spider-Man is his enemy, he is ripe for being used as a weapon by someone with malevolent intent.
For example, Harry Osborn (Dane DeHaan). Son of OsCorp founder Norman Osborn (Chris Cooper), Harry returns home from many years in boarding school to find his father dying of a genetic disease that, his father informs him, Harry is probably seeing the first signs of in himself. Convinced that OsCorp research might hold the key to stalling or curing the disease, Harry does some digging and then turns to his childhood friend, Peter, for help in tracking down Spider-Man. He believes the hero’s blood holds the key to a cure. 
My feelings about The Amazing Spider-Man 2 are weirdly mixed. On the one hand, I’m still not sure why this movie was made outside of whatever deal Sony has with Marvel. Andrew Garfield is not an electrifying Peter Parker. He doesn’t bring anything to the character that any random supporting actor from any CW show couldn’t bring. And — not surprising for a guy turning 31 this year — Garfield isn’t particularly convincing as a high school senior in the movie’s early scenes. 
The movie also has the occasional whiff of Joel Schumacher-era Batman about it, especially when it comes to the general abundance of villains and the specific elements of cheesiness about Jamie Foxx’s Electro. Maybe it was the glowy blue skin, but when I looked at Electro, I couldn’t help thinking of Arnold Schwarzenegger’s Mr. Freeze. 
And, oy, there are so many villains. Oh, right, there are yet more villains, I had to remind myself at the end of one of the movie’s pivotal battles — a point when, in any normal kind of story-telling situation, you’d be on your way to wrapping things up. This feeling — wait, that wasn’t the climactic battle? — made the Green Goblin character in particular feel rather tacked on.
On the other hand, I liked the Gwen Stacy/Peter Parker relationship. It is more interesting, more realistic and more tolerable by a considerable amount than the MJ/Peter relationship of the Sam Raimi movies. Stone might be vamped up, in classic superhero girlfriend style, but she doesn’t feel frivolous or like a person just waiting around to be part of Spider-Man’s adventures. (Nor is she awkwardly inserted into all events, a la Amy Adams in Man of Steel.)
And while I don’t think I’ll ever consider Garfield the definitive Spider-Man, I do think this movie does thought-provoking things with the character of Peter Parker. I like, for example, that the beefs that exist between him and the assorted villains don’t (at least initially) have anything to do with a girl. I like that he has a prickly relationship with his superhero-ness (as does the city of New York). And I like that Garfield is a total cheeseball when in Spider-Man garb. While Maguire was goofy, Garfield makes him more earnest. Raimi’s movies tended to have a kind of jokey good-heartedness at their core with occasional notes of that immediate-post-9/11 we’re-all-in-it-together-ness. But the Amazings are much more sincere and have a center of almost embarrassing emotionality. “Feels,” I believe it’s called.
I left The Amazing Spider-Man 2 liking it more than I thought I would — liking it more, even, than I did about halfway through the movie. It isn’t great superhero storytelling, like the first two Christopher Nolan Batmans, or silly fun, like the first two Sam Raimi Spider-Mans, or action-adventure spectacular, like the better Marvel movies. But it is worth watching — I enjoyed it at least as much as I was annoyed by it. And since it’s the beginning of summer and I haven’t yet been beaten down by a non-stop shelling of superhero films, I’ll give this movie, teetering between mid-C and low B, the benefit of the doubt and go with B-.
Rated PG-13 for sequences of sci-fi action/violence. Directed by Marc Webb with a screenplay by Alex Kurtzman & Roberto Orci & Jeff Pinkner and a screen story by Alex Kurtzman & Roberto Orci & Jeff Pinkner and James Vanderbilt, The Amazing Spider-Man 2 is two hours and 22 minutes long and is distributed by Columbia Pictures.

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