The Amazing Spider Man 2 – Movie Review
Director: Marc Webb
Writers: Alex Kurtzman (screenplay & screen story), Roberto Orci (screenplay & screen story), Jeff Pinkner (screenplay & screen story), James Vanderbilt (screen story), Stan Lee (Marvel comic book), Steve Ditko (Marvel comic book)
Stars: Andrew Garfield, Emma Stone, Jamie Foxx, Dane DeHaan, Colm Feore, Sally Field, Paul Giamatti, Marton Csoka, Campbell Scott
The Amazing Spider-Man 2 is an atypical comic book movie. It is not power-packed with action sequences, chases, and special effects (although all are present!), instead opting for a larger dose of character development. The result: like the Spider-Man comic books of old, the viewer is drawn into Peter Parker’s complicated, angst-filled life, where decisions are more complex than just how to defeat a particular foe, and every action has a consequence.
The depiction of Spidey is absolutely true to the comic books, from his poses lifted right from the pages as he gracefully swings through New York City to his nerdy, camera-carrying, depressive personality to his money problems. Andrew Garfield shines in the role, moving effortlessly from a limber, spandex-clad Spidey in one scene to a T-shirt wearing Peter Parker in the next, his posture and gait changing with his clothes. Tobey Maguire was a fine Spider-Man in the Sam Raimi films, but Garfield totally owns this role, playing both aspects with equal facility.
Peter Parker really grows as a character through this film. Front and center are his relationships: most importantly with Gwen Stacey (Emma Stone), which is heartbreakingly realistic. The way he interacts with his protective Aunt May (Sally Field) and his best friend Norman (Dane DeHaan) also change with time and circumstance. And Spider-Man complicates everything.
There is a wonderful parallel structure running through a long section of the movie between Peter and Norman as they each gain more insight into their respective fathers. Too, they each gain some understanding of why their fathers set them on these paths–but that doesn’t bring happiness. Or closure.
Where the movie is weakest, oddly enough, is in the selection of villains. Electro’s powers work better on the printed page than the movie screen, and there came a point where Spidey’s strategy no longer seemed to make sense. But the fight scenes were still entertaining, and Jamie Foxx did his best to make Electro’s back story work.
The secondary villains just weren’t given enough screen time as villains to make them work. Given all the character development going on in the rest of the film, the motivation behind the battles came off as weak. They were fun enough to watch, though, with some interesting effects from Spidey’s POV.
This movie showed what I always loved most about Spider-Man: his down-to-earth, slightly snarky, relatable side. His humanity. “With great power comes great responsibility.” It exemplified the moniker “Friendly Neighborhood Spider-Man”–but this is the flip side of Iron Man. Peter enjoys being Spidey, but he doesn’t have Tony Stark’s limitless resources to draw on, and fun doesn’t put food on the table. Oddly, it’s Stark who takes another drink as Peter Parker digs in and tries to do it all.
If your only priority is the explosions and special effects, this probably isn’t the ideal summer movie for you. But if you want lots of story and character development, and perhaps way too much depression for a guy in high school, this one’s for you. And it’s a must see for fans of Spider-Man, that goes almost without saying . . .
Written by Elektra Hammond