We've heard a lot of things about The Amazing Spider-Man 2. Some have called it 'the definitive Spider-Man movie' while others have called it 'The Batman and Robin of the Spider-Man franchise'. There was no doubt that this movie was going to be divisive. With a character as huge and popular as Spider-Man, people are sure to have a certain image of what a Spider-Man movie should be. This may all depend what is your Spider-Man. The character has been around for decades so someone's opinion may always be different from somebody else's. Now, with the internet already flooding with varying opinions, you may (even though you shouldn't) be stressing yourself out trying to figure out whose opinion sells you. But among all the chaos, don't worry because...
Highflyer is here.
WHAT I LIKED ABOUT THE AMAZING SPIDER-MAN 2
There is no denying that the tone for the first installment in this reboot was very different from Sam Raimi's trilogy. While it wasn't depressingly dark, it wasn't fantastical and imaginative either. There should be no confusion though; I still enjoyed the film but it did give off an indie vibe which I am sure that is what Marc Webb had intended for the film but I'm not sure it connected with everybody. The Amazing Spider-Man 2 however, embraces Spider-Man for the charismatic character he truly is. The world feels richer, bigger, more colorful and fresher than before. It really feels like a movie based on a comic book character. And when you have a character like Spider-Man, his world needs to welcome the audience in. Its pretty refreshing for a movie to boldly stand up and say that not all comic book characters are dark. The first movie was like living in a well designed tent with cool toys inside while the sequel can be compared to walking in a giant mansion with, going outside to experience the beautiful sun and fresh air.
The movie does the villains justice:
I'm almost 100% certain that I'm not alone when I say that all the news that emerged prior to the film's release about villains that would be included was a slightly worrisome. Every week or so you would hear how a certain villainous character would make his or her debut in the sequel so it wasn't long before I started having flashbacks of Sam Raimi's Spider-Man 3. However to my surprise, the movie handles it all very well. The movie never feels overcrowded. But before I continue I would like to share my thoughts on the issue of having multiple villains in a movie. While the biggest sin Spider-Man 3 might have committed was it's treatment of Venom (despite his faithful origin), I believe it was balancing of time was the cause of it's downfall. The Amazing Spider-Man 2 avoids these mistakes by keeping the villains in the audiences minds throughout the film. While it isn't an easy feat to accomplish, the task was made easier with actors like Jamie Fox as Electro and Dane Dehaan as Harry Osborn.
It would be easy to make Electro a one dimensional villain who the audience probably wouldn't care about. Fortunately this isn't the case. As Max Dillon (Electro's alter-ego), Jamie Fox portrays him as an innocent and lonely man with an edge. As he lives his life the theme of loneliness and rejection can be felt. The man feels invisible. He just wants to be seen instead of feeling like a nobody. It is something I can sympathies with as I felt I was in the same position growing up (and yes, I even talked to myself). The script allows us to believe Max can turn into a deranged evil villain since they allow Max to have some layers to him prior to his transformation. He can get angry and frustrated at people for how he is treated. His obsession with Spider-Man isn't really like how a little girl has an obsession with Justin Timberlake. Its rather that he just wants a friend which he believes he has found in Spider-Man.
As Electro, he is the most frightening Spider-Man villain yet. And that is saying a lot.
Now with Dane Dehaan as Harry Osborn. Right off the bat, the viewer gets to know that this is a very different Harry Osborn. In the Sam Raimi movies, Harry's motives were mainly driven by the death of his father which is understandable since he believed Spider-Man was responsible for his death. In this version he is driven by desperation and crushed hope.
Problems from the first film are resolved:
One of the main criticisms of The Amazing Spider-Man was the failed promises made in the trailers and TV spots. It promised us 'The Untold Story' but in the end we got a film which was entertaining, enjoyable but also came across as unnecessary. In the first few minutes of the first film, we get to see Richard and Mary Parker drop a young Peter Parker at his Aunt and Uncle's house in queens. That was pretty much it. The only thing we get to know is that they died in a plan crash. Big whoop. But this is where the sequel excels. In the opening we get to witness the plane crash itself and believe me when I say it hit me hard. I never thought a movie could make a plane crash so emotional. Prior to this, I did not care about Peter's Parents at all but after watching this movie, I now feel sorry for Peter for losing his parents.
Another gripe that many people had with the first film was the decision that Peter made in the end. Despite promising his girlfriend's dad Captain Stacey to stay away from his daughter, he was going to see her anyway. That choice Peter made continues through to this movie. Early on, Peter keeps hallucinating about Gwen's dad and he can't help but feel the guilt for his death and the promise he broke.
Weak characters are made strong:
One can be forgiven for forgetting some supporting characters when all the attention is focused on the main character but it is the filmmakers job to make sure the supporting characters feel real and leave an impression on the viewer. Talented actresses such as Sally Field (Aunt May) and Emma Stone (Gwen Stacy) felt a little underused and wasted in the first movie. The Amazing Spider-Man 2 improves on this by adding more layers and emotion to them. I was really pleased to see Aunt May explain her reason for keeping secrets from Peter and the way she described him as her boy. It shows that her refusal isn't based on pride but on fear of what it might do to her nephew and the possibility of losing him.
The movie should also be commended for establishing Gwen as a strong female lead. She isn't a typical damsel in distress and has a strong intellect who has ambitions of her own. The movie doesn't assume we want to know about her ambitions so it doesn't cram an amount of time on it. It simply enables us to see her as a character with other important things in her life other than being Spider-Man's girlfriend. I ended up caring about her and her safety so when certain crucial events begin to unfold, my heart was beating like a drum.
The Score: I have to say, I feel like they really out did themselves with the score in this movie. The music goes perfectly with each individual scene; drawing the audience in. Hans Zimmer and Pharrell Williams do not disappoint. It certainly has a modern feel to them. Don't get me wrong Danny Elfman's Spider-Man theme is a classic but it was exhilarating and new to hear this new score. The Amazing Spider-Man 2 is the only superhero movie ever to have a score that gets me pumped up but also has me bobbing my head at the same time. Playing the instumentals of Alicia Keys and Kendrick Lamar its on again near the film's closing was a personal highlight.
It doesn't rehash Spider-Man 2:
A few months ago, director Marc Webb said something along the lines of 'The first film was about if Peter could be Spider-Man. This film deals with if Spider-Man can be Peter.' That statemant alone had me worried. It sounded like the same premise from Sam Raimi's acclaimed Spider-Man 2. After the first film recieved critisism of "rehashing" the Raimi's original movie, it felt like suicide for them to play a similar angle with this movie. But I can't even begin to count the differences between them. While Spider-Man 2 focused on how difficult Peter found it to be both Peter Parker and Spider-Man, The Amazing Spider-Man deals with the theme 'Promises over Happiness'. Spider-Man is something Peter enjoys being. Its a way of freedom. Raimi's version seemed to emphasise on how Spider-Man was more of a curse. In this movie being Spider-Man isn't Peter's problem. In fact, when he is in costume he seems to be having the time of his life. Its his sense of morality, loyalty and trust that gets in his way.
The symbol is tested
What Spider-Man can do is something we've found astonishing. He can crawl on walls, lift a car, can swing through New York City using webs and can sense danger. Who wouldn't want to be Spider-Man? But what about the thing he is supposed to be to the public apart from a superhero? The movie adresses the theme of hope. Peter believes Spider-Man can give people hope and he tries his best to give what the people want which is a saviour. But what makes this movie so interesting is that it begs the question, 'What if the people wanted something that wasn't really good for them?' It is a question you don't usually hear in superhero movies. No matter how much they beg, this Spider-Man has conviction and stands his ground even if letting the people who trust him down. It shows that Spider-Man is a hero who has his own mind and personality and isn't a puppet of New York City.
Oscorp is explored to a greater extent
We all knew that Oscorp was going to be explored further in this movie but how much was a mystery. In previous films, Oscorp was something that was only mentioned once in a while after the first movie. This movie however brings the audiance inside the building. We have a greater sense and feel of what the place is like, the people who work there and the motives behind their experiments.
WHAT I DIDN'T LIKE ABOUT THE AMAZING SPIDER-MAN 2
Ruined jokes: I probably would have found most of the jokes in this movie funny... if I hadn't seen them already in the trailers. That was one thing that disappointed. I wish I could have been one of the many people in the cinema who were laughing their butts off since they obviously hadn't seen all the marketing material that I had seen. Now, one of the things I've heard about this movie is that its a cheese fest. I have to disagree on that. Certain scenes which could have easily passed the line of cheesy never do. Scenes like Electro managing to play the tune of the incy wincy spider or or him declaring, 'its my birthday and its time to light my candles!' Well I didn't think it was cheesy. At least not cheesy enough for me to get distracted. Batman and Robin was bad in a lot of ways but throwing a dark and brooding character like Batman in such a campy world just felt out of place. However, Spider-Man is a much more fun superhero. I don't see how any of the one-liners were any worse than the ones in the original trilogy so I don't see the big fuss. I honestly don't like comparing but its something that I fail to understand.
Weird editing: A slight gripe I had with Thor: The Dark World was how a dramatic and emotional scene was followed by a comedic one. The Amazing Spider-Man 2 has the same problem but in reverse. After a scene that had audiences laughing, we are quickly shown Harry Osborn visiting a sick loved one on his death bed. It is a minor gripe but a gripe nonetheless.
Jamie Fox's hints aren't shown
This doesn't really effect the overall movie but it is something I would have liked to see. I was also a little disappointed that some of the things Jamie Fox said was going to be part of Max's backstory wasn't in the film. Whether they never shot the scenes or they were cut out remain to be seen.
So there you have it. The Amazing Spider-Man is a big improvement on the new franchise. With the amazing action scenes, audiences are treated to something special. Helped by a strong and talented cast, Andrew Garfield continues to show why he is the new Spider-Man. It is the ONLY comic book movie that had a climax strong with a strong enough emotional punch that it made my eyes water up a little and left my jaw on the floor. In my view, The Amazing Spider-Man 2 is the definitive Spider-Man movie. (Along with Spider-Man 2)
Thank you for reading and don't forget to give the thumbs up!