The Amazing-Spiderman 2 is the latest installment in the Spider-Man franchise and is directed by the returning Marc Webb, written by Alex Kurtzman, Roberto Orci & Jeff Pinkner, and stars Andrew Garfield, Emma Stone, Jamie Foxx, Dane DeHaan and Sally Fields. It follows Peter Parker as he graduates from high school. Things are going pretty great for the webslinging hero, except that he’s haunted by the promise he made to Gwen Stacey’s dying father to stay away from his daughter to keep her safe. As they attempt to define their relationship and struggle with the paths they walk Peter attempts to reconnect with his old friend Harry Osborn, whose return to New York coincides with the death of his father, and as Spiderman he meets the most formidable enemy he’s encountered yet; Electro.
Most importantly The Amazing Spiderman 2 is the answer to the question of why there was a Spiderman reboot so shortly after the ending of the original, Sam Raimi directed trilogy of Spiderman movies (full disclosure time: I hate those films); because now with The Amazing Spiderman 2 we have our first Spiderman movie that’s true to its source material and doesn’t make a mockery of its title character. As the trailers have poured onto the Internet many have compared it to the rightly maligned Spiderman 3, owing to TASM2’s high number of villains, which many people blame for the failure of the former. Hopefully now that myth can be put to rest as TASM2 features two main villains, as well as cameos from a fair few potential future villains, and still manages excellence. The primary distinction between this movie and Spiderman 3, and the reason for Spiderman 3’s failure, is because it was just a terrible movie. Unlike The Amazing Spiderman 2, which lives up to it’s title.
I’m going to get around to talking about the story and the action and the performances and all that good shit, but first I have to say a few words about the music in TASM2; it’s fucking tremendous. Composed by the musical super team up of Hans Zimmer, Johnny Marr and Pharrell Williams, the soundtrack to this movie is absolutely fantastic and perfectly accompanies the on-screen action, elevating TASM2 to another level. Special highlights go to the music that accompanies Electro’s appearances, as they actually give us some awesome music and a glimpse inside the mind of Max Dillon, a great example of this is in the Enemies Unite trailer, actually most of the music from that trailer is also from the movie now that I think about it (I could link some of the actual score here but it’s best experienced within the actual movie itself).
As for the movie itself, TASM2 fixes the two biggest problems with its predecessor; the story and the action. This is not only a terrific action movie (and quite possibly the purest transfer of a comic book to the big screen ever created) but it’s primarily a very strong, character-driven story. It switches effortlessly between being intense, dramatic, gripping, heartbreaking and hilarious, and sometimes it’s all of these at once. Although there are a lot of moving parts in this movie, something which has sunk a lot of movies before it, all of these strands of story pull in the same direction, and the movie is focused on a single theme; abandonment. Peter attempts to uncover the reason his parents abandoned him with his Aunt and Uncle all those years ago, Gwen struggles as Peter must more often than not swing away at a moments notice to save New York, DeHaan’s Harry Osborn is deeply scarred by his father sending him away to boarding school at the age of eleven and Foxx’s Max Dillon struggles with every day life, abandoned and forgotten by everyone around him. As far as stories go in comic book movies it’s up there with the best of them.
Another element that TASM2 fixes from the previous movie is the action. In the first Amazing Spiderman the action felt claustrophobic and closed off from the world at large, confined to dingy alleyways, narrow school halls and a single rooftop. Here the action is epic, it’s huge, the first action sequence involving Spiderman takes place across what must be about half of Manhattan and subsequent action scenes are just as expansive. The CGI is incredible, as it needs to be when making a movie with Electro as your primary villain, and a far cry from the wonky visuals of The Lizard in the last movie. The action itself is exciting and oftentimes intense (the Times Square standoff in the middle of TASM2 is easily one of the coolest action sequences so far this year).
But the biggest flaw of the first Amazing Spiderman movie, which this one fixes, is the humour of Spiderman himself. Here the character of Spiderman is more reminiscent of the comic book character than he’s ever been on screen, and it’s clear right from the first present day scene as we follow Spiderman through the streets of New York as he chases down a hijacked Oscorp truck. Yes this scene is exciting and action packed, but critically it’s often hilarious in a way that “comic book Spiderman” consistently is but “movie Spiderman” has never been before. The whole movie is full of the big laughs, small jokes, quips, wit and humour that has come to define Spiderman since he first burst into Marvel comics in 1962.
So yes, Andrew Garfield and Emma Stone were terrific here, which isn’t a huge surprise, as they were easily the best thing about the first Amazing Spiderman (as a sidenote, it’s always nice to see a genuinely awesome female character get a substantial role in a movie like this, as Stone is given here). But this movie lives and dies with the extraordinary performance of Jamie Foxx as Max Dillon. Foxx makes Max a really relatable character, and someone who you’ll feel so much empathy towards (the dude seriously has the worst birthday in history). Of the other actors Dane DeHaan flirts with typecasting as Harry Osborn, essentially playing the same role he played in Chronicle, but playing it well, and Sally Fields as Aunt May doesn’t get a whole lot to do, but she does well with what she’s given.
In the end The Amazing Spiderman 2 is a success not simply because it’s a good comic book movie or a good action movie (although both of those statements are correct) but because it’s a good movie period. The performances are great, the action is epic, the music is out-of-this-world fantastic and even the long running time is earned by a great, multi-layered, well told story. It’s been an awesome year for fans of comic book movies and The Amazing Spiderman 2 delivers.