When The Amazing Spider-Man came out in 2012, opinions were polarised, largely because many people thought that it was far too soon for a reboot of the friendly neighbourhood wall-crawler, and I agree that it kind of was. But with a new direction that promised to atone for the mistakes of the trilogy, I was very excited for the movie. And I loved it. Andrew Garfield made a really great Peter Parker and captured the best of the character. And then there was Gwen Stacy, Spidey’s original girlfriend. She rocked that movie. With lots of mysteries, lots of action, and a great overall story, The Amazing Spider-Man stands for me as one of the best superhero movies to date.
And now we have The Amazing Spider-Man 2, the sequel, and this movie had me even more excited than I was for the first movie. Because we were getting another villain new to the Spidey movies in the form of Elektro and Jamie Foxx promised to be a great Elektro. But not only that, we also had Harry Osborn as the Green Goblin and Paul Giamatti as Rhino. The movie promised to be great, but there was a concern that it would fall under the weight of so many supervillains. Well, the reality is quite different indeed and The Amazing Spider-Man 2 proved that it was a better movie than its predecessor, which was already pretty damn good.
I went into this movie expecting everything that had made the first movie so good, and then some added brilliance on top of all that. And the movie did not disappoint. It starts off rather ominously in that we get to see what happened to Peter’s parents, Richard and Mary. It is a subplot carried over from the previous movie and the implications of that scene are carried on throughout the movie, to allow Peter to come to terms with their absence in his childhood. Rather heart-breaking, this opening scene. But after that sober start, we get into the fun and madness of the Amazing Spider-Man and the cinematography of the movie kicks into over-drive. As Spidey zooms through the streets of New York, on his way to his graduation ceremony where Gwen is waiting for him, he stops an armoured heist by a gang of Russian mobsters led by Aleksei Systsevich, who will eventually go on to become Rhino. And this is where we see the movie’s main villain, Oscorp electrical engineer Max Dillon aka Elektro for the first time. This as much Elektro’s origin story as it is a continuing story of the new Spidey.
What I found great about the movie was definitely the cinematography in that visually this is truly an amazing movie. Lots of slow-motion shots and awesome scenes of Spidey zipping through the streets. I remarked on this in the first movie, and it all holds doubly true for the new movie as well. Without the kind of cinematography that director Marc Webb employs here, via cinematographer Daniel Mindel, this movie wouldn’t have been as good, especially not in the climax when we get the big showdown between Elektro and Spider-Man.
Then, once we get past all of that, we have Gwen Stacy herself, who is quite possibly one of the most intelligent, smart, kickass, and just plain awesome leading ladies in superhero movies. The movie goes to great lengths to set her up who is more than Spidey’s equal in all things. In fact, she is often shown to be superior to him, but she loves Peter nevertheless and their romance as it plays out is one of the best elements of this movie. In the Sam Raimi trilogy, Mary-Jane Watson was often shown to be quite one-dimensional and simply cool because she is meant to be cool. Marc Webb’s movies go the other route and it is much more welcome. Gwen Stacy simply rocks, and Emma Stone is phenomenal in the role, as if she was meant for it. She has two amazing moments in the movie, the first one being the one in which she gives her valedictorian speech during the graduation, and the other is when she tells Peter that whether she is involved with him is her own choice, not her dead father’s to make (Captain Stacy, just before he died in the first movie, had told Peter that he was to keep Gwen away from himself because he didn’t want his daughter to become a casualty like him during one of Peter’s future adventures as Spidey). It shows that she is someone who believes in making her own choices and won’t settle down for someone dictating to her how she should live her life.
We definitely need more Gwen Stacies in Hollywood pronto.
And to go with all of that, we have the film’s various successful attempts at humour. Spider-Man is quite possibly Marvel’s highest-profile property packing humour. And Marc Web uses that to full effect here with a script provided by Alex Kurtzman, Roberto Orci, James Vanderbilt and Jeff Pinkner. Spidey is a funny hero, who lives very much in the moment as far as such things are concerned, and reading a spidey comic is often like being immersed in a light-hearted world (despite all the darkness over the years in various Spidey stories). The humour in the movie is always well-timed and the actors always seem to be quite comfortable in that sort of environment. Definitely a plus point.
The big question remains however whether Elektro makes for a good on-screen villain or not, especially since we have Harry Osborn/Green Goblin here in a starring role and he is played off against the wall-crawler himself. The answer to that is yet, Elektro is pretty damn great in this movie. Jamie Foxx portrays the character well all the way through, especially when he becomes Elektro and just before and during the climax we see quite a creepy-awesome side to the character that I hadn’t really expected. The exploration of the character’s powers is handled well too, and that is something that I enjoyed because of the sheer variety of things.
The real villain here however is Oscorp because everything bad that has happened in these two movies and most of what is going to happen in the future movies is all coming out of Oscorp. In the first movie it was their lead geneticist Curt Connors who became the villain Lizard. In this movie it is their employee who has an electrical accident in the genomics department of the company’s main offices, plus Harry himself is Green Goblin, one of Spidey’s classic villains. And the future villains like Rhino and Doctor Octopus all owe their powers and abilities to Oscorp. Plus the company was complicit in the disappearance of Peter’s parents, something that was touched on in the first movie and is made clear here. Lots of things to take in really, and makes you wonder how all of this is going to be developed further.
But, for the moment, as far as The Amazing Spider-Man 2, what we have here is one of the best superhero movies to date. It has heroism aplenty. It has humour aplenty. It has characters who are well-rounded and three-dimensional. The story is both exciting and well-paced. The cinematography is amazing. The soundtrack pretty much rocks. What more do you want really?
If you are one of those people who have been vaccillating on whether or not go see this movie, then you are most definitely missing out on a great example of superhero cinema. If you loved Sam Raimi’s Spider-Man 2, then you are going to love this movie. And just as Sam Raimi’s second movie was better than the first, so is the case with Marc Webb’s second Spidey movie, the main difference being that The Amazing Spider-Man is a far better movie than Spider-Man, and thus The Amazing Spider-Man 2 is far better than Spider-Man 2.
More The Amazing Spider-Man: The Amazing Spider-Man.