They have promoted the shit out of this movie, maybe even more so after seeing how well Captain America: The Winter Soldier has done at the box office so far (and that wasn’t even a summer blockbuster), but I’m not quite sure it’s going to be enough to beat out Spidey’s Marvel sequel bro, Cap (still in theaters!). So far, it looks like the box office isn’t going to fare quite as well as Captain America, though they’re still gigantic wins (projected $90+ million opening weekend).
Box office take aside, this is not to say AS2 wasn’t a wonderful, fun summer blockbuster movie. It absolutely was! Maybe not so fun I would see it twice like I did with Cap, but well worth seeing.
Quick confession, and then onto the review:
I will admit, I enjoyed The Amazing Spider-Man (2012) prequel far more than the “original” Spider-Man films with Tobey Maguire. I felt like, Brit or not, Garfield wore the suit better, was able to capture the teenage angst, the playful humor, and the drama that follows the weightiness of Spidey’s responsibilities and decisions far better than Maguire did. I do feel like Garfield’s a slightly better actor than Maguire, but I also think he had a better script to work with.
First Up: The Downers
Now, having seen the sequel, I’m a little pissed. They took a brilliantly done first film and jazzed it up so much that it played a little over-the-top a few too many times. The slow-motion scenes hit too often and ran too long for my preference, and the villain was a little too cartoon-y with the dialogue.
And then the special effects.
You can’t have Spider-Man and his acrobatics through the New York City skyline without special effects, I get that, but they felt a little too heavy-handed here, trying to be artistic and coming off pretentious and mildly gaudy at times.
I did feel like Jamie Foxx’s character, Max Dillon/Electro was a little corny, and truth be told, he had the largest quantity of corny lines, but – and here’s where I give the special effects people their dues – he looked fucking awesome. By far, the coolest-looking Spidey villain yet. A little weak as far as motives go, but as far as damage and destruction go, he went big.
And, I haven’t found an Emma Stone film yet that I didn’t like. She just rocks everything she’s in, every role, and her role as Peter Parker’s love interest Gwen Stacy is no exception. I won’t spoil the ending here, but Peter’s relationship with her is perhaps the most difficult challenge he’s ever faced, super-villains included.
What I liked best in this film, plot-wise, is how well it was all tied together to the first film and to the origin of one of Spider-Man’s other ultimate villains, the Green Goblin. Part of the story in AS2 is Peter starts asking questions and digging into his father’s history and why he left, and the answers he finds really help shape his future as himself, Peter Parker, and as Spider-Man. Not only does Peter discover this, but we, the audience, get to see more of what happened outside of Peter’s point of view: what happened with Richard Parker after he dropped Peter off at Ben and May’s, and how he and Peter’s mother Mary tried to escape. It was a scene packed with more special effects, but it was rather heart-breaking. One of the many scenes that left me in tears.
Also, tying in Harry Osborn’s backstory and connection to Peter Parker, and in fact, both of their fathers, was cleverly done. It fed into both Peter’s and Harry’s motives and explained both their friendship and their eventually divergent good/evil paths.
As to the acting, while I’m not a big James Franco fan, I wasn’t crazy about Dane DeHaan playing Harry Osborn, either. He is so scrawny and so young – younger-looking even than Garfield (and actually four years younger IRL!), though I think he’s supposed to be a year or two older? – that it seemed a little strange and anachronistic to me. I had pictured him as more of a playboy, pseudo-intellectual type, and here, with DeHaan playing him, he reminded me more of Draco Malfoy than Jay Gatsby. However, once he transforms into the Green Goblin, he really transformed. It was brilliant. He only gets a couple minutes of screentime as the great, green, sky-surfing baddie, but it was worth the wait.
And then there’s Peter. This film was an emotional roller-coaster for Peter/Spidey. Transitioning from high school kid to young adult is hard enough, but when you’ve got money troubles, girlfriend problems, daddy issues, superpowers, and a blue, electrified, Spider-Man-obsessed villain to contend with, “hard” doesn’t even come close to explaining it. While Maguire’s Spidey went off the rails hardcore in Spider-Man 3 when shit started getting too real, Garfield’s Spider-Man holds it together. He has a few obsessive habits and coping mechanisms in the meantime, but when it all comes to a head, he takes the time he needs to heal, recover, and figure out what he has to do to move forward.
**Potential spoilers, skip ahead if you’re squeamish about endings.**
Teasing Sinister Six and X-Men: Days of Future Past
At the end of the film, Harry Osborn/Green Goblin is in supervillain jail, but one of his cronies comes to visit him to discuss an upcoming “special project” in which they plan to get revenge against Spider-Man.
Let me back up for a second: at the beginning of the film, we saw a crazy Russian (wait, what?) Paul Giamatti driving the getaway truck from a plutonium heist, who then swore revenge against Spidey for foiling his evil plot. At the end, we see Giamatti’s character in a metal rhino suit, courtesy of Oscorp and presumably Osborn’s “sinister” new project, wreaking havoc on NYC once again, drawing Spidey back into the fight. While I’m not crazy about this villain idea – Giamatti, much as I love the guy, is more comic than terrifying – I hoped the writers would remember to come back to his vengeful, albeit overly obvious, promise, and come back they did.
The special project, I think it’s fair to assume, will be the Sinister Six, which we’ve already been hearing about being in the works. Harry, it seems, will be pulling the strings from his prison – or perhaps a break-out looms in the near future – and there will be plenty of room for other baddies to join in. There was a cut of some of Oscorp’s weapons, suits, and other projects, which may have hinted at some other villains to come, but I am not familiar enough with the history to make any predictions. I am curious, though. I love a good anti-hero as much as the next person, but a movie about full-on villains with them as the protagonists? How will they win us over? Will the filmmakers succeed in making us root for the bad guys, when we’re already on record rooting for the good guy? Should be interesting…
**Spoilers over. Jump back in here. **
And the crossover/teaser
No kidding, I got chills watching the DOFP clip. I was a little pissed about the studios bringing the two iterations of the X-Men films together at first. It felt like a cheap play to get asses in the seats by pulling together the old all-star cast with the new one of rising stars. Especially because I head-over-heels LOVED X-Men: First Class way more than I ever loved X2: X-Men United (my old favorite X-Men film). But having seen this clip, I think they might have just pulled it off. Curious why they wanted to release three Marvel movies – sequels, no less – in less than two months, but hey, I’m not complaining.
Though it went a little nuts with the flash and spectacle – like many sequels do – The Amazing Spider-Man 2 has plenty of heart. Spider-Man had to grow up more in this film than in any other, and Andrew Garfield’s delivery of that level of emotion and complexity makes this more than just another superhero movie or another summer blockbuster. It ain’t over yet, and with an ending like this one, Amazing Spider-Man 3 promises to push the envelope once again with both thrills and feels.
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