The Amazing Spider-Man 2

 

In The Amazing Spider-Man 2, Andrew Garfield seems incredibly comfortable in the role of Peter Parker/Spider-Man. Also, his version of Peter Parker enjoys being Spider-Man more than did Tobey McGuire’s. The Spidey angst here is more about his relationship with Gwen.

The Amazing Spider-Man 2 pivots back and forth between Peter’s romance with Gwen (Emma Stone) and Spider-Man’s efforts to save the world from evil. Will the couple stay apart? Can they resist the attraction? And will Spider-Man be able to contain bad guys who bring new terror to the screen?

As usual, something catastrophic happens to turn a normal person into a creature bent on doing bad things. This time it’s nerdy Max Dillon (Jamie Foxx) who, thanks to powerful electrical current, becomes Electro.

Honestly, I didn’t care for Electro as a villain. His powers seemed poorly defined though almost limitless. Jamie Foxx, as usual, is great but the character lacks qualities that would make him more memorable.

Harry Osborn (Dean DeHaan) is heir to the Oscorp organization and is about to segue into his Green Goblin identity. Like Foxx, DeHaan is a talented actor. But the evolution of the Green Goblin is less than satisfying.

The Amazing Spider-Man 2 launches with Spider-Man trying to rein in a terrorist in a truck, Aleksei (Paul Giamatti), while also trying to make his way to a graduation ceremony where Gwen will be speaking. Giamatti’s character looks and acts like a refugee from The Road Warrior and the role fails to take advantage of Giamatti’s acting prowess.

Sally Field returns as Aunt May and, although she’s still pretty at age 67, in one shot her neck looks just awful. (Pardon my being catty.)

The Amazing Spider-Man 2 has action galore. The sequences with Spidey using his web spinning to move rapidly through a cityscape are, to me, more enjoyable than the scenes showing Spider-Man trying to neutralize the villains.

Director Mark Webb delivers one of my favorite shots of the year in this film. It shows Gwen falling, in very slow motion. The contrast from the high energy pace of the rest of the movie is stark.

This is not a must-see film unless you feel a personal need to catch all the tent-pole movies this spring-summer in order to keep tabs on the super heroes. TAS-M2 delivers all the movie stuff that goes well with popcorn, and it entertains, but it has shortcomings that cause it to fall short of greatness.

 

 

 

 

The Amazing Spider-Man

Is it legit to retell an origin story that was told just ten years ago? Apparently the 2002 version of how Peter Parker got his powers wasn’t quite accurate, because the new movie changes some of the details.

The rebooted story of “The Amazing Spider-Man” stars Andrew Garfield of “The Social Network” fame. Unlike former Spiderman Tobey McGuire, he’s hunky and does not have a high-pitched voice. It’s much harder to buy Garfield as a weak, meek target of high school bullies. McGuire was a better wimp.

Not that Garfield doesn’t do a good job—he does. Garfield’s Spiderman embraces his new powers more readily than did McGuire’s Spidey. His powers first come into play in a memorable scene in a subway car when Parker is not quite yet aware of all he can do. It’s a fun scene.

His love interest is Gwen, played by Emma Stone. Kirsten Dunst as Mary Jane in the ’02 movie took some time to figure out that Parker was Spiderman. Gwen gets hip quick. While there’s nothing quite as sexy as the upside down kiss in the ’02 Spidey flick with Kirsten Dunst’s nipples visible under her wet blouse, there is a bit of heat between Peter/Spiderman and Gwen. Emma’s got legs and they are given good screen time.

Gwen’s dad is a police boss, played by Denis Leary. Leary is leery (sorry!) of Spiderman and his intentions. When Gwen has Peter over for dinner, her dad and the unmasked Spidey have a contentious conversation about the Web-Slinger.

The villain is Dr. Curt Connors, played by Rhys Ifans. Parker’s vanished father had been a research partner of Connors. In an effort to check out the possibility of cross-species genetics, Connors injects himself and becomes a rather violent giant lizard. In lizard mode, he wreaks major civic havoc until our hero saves the day.

Martin Sheen and Sally Field are featured as Peter Parker’s aunt and uncle who raise him after his parents make a quick getaway. Cliff Robertson’s role as Parker’s uncle in the ’02 film was more poignant and meaningful than is Sheen’s. As for Parker’s parents, a post-credits coda teases that their fate may be learned in the next Spiderman movie.

It is true that this movie about a SPIDER man is directed by a man named… WEBB! Marc Webb previously directed “500 Days of Summer,” but has never taken on anything as big as this. He does an efficient job of storytelling and bringing freshness to story elements that have been presented on screen before. The effects are good but they do not “drown out” the plot line as happens in some tent pole type franchise movies.

Why so many comparisons to the ’02 movie with McGuire and Dunst in this review? Well, that first “Spiderman” movie is still #12 on the all-time box office list! It has not exactly faded from our collective memory.

Can the new version even come close to the $403.7 million US box office total of Spidey One? With a favorable opening date, just ahead of Independence Day, and eager anticipation from moviegoers, the outlook is good to go big.