WARNING: THIS REVIEW CONTAINS SPOILERS
The Amazing Spider-Man 2 picks about a year after the events of 2012’s The Amazing Spider-Man. Peter Parker (Andrew Garfield) has grown since his battle with The Lizard, continuing to balance his dual life as Spider-Man while making time to spend with his girlfriend, Gwen Stacy (Emma Stone). He enjoys his heroic alter ego, but he’s still haunted by visions of Gwen’s deceased father, Police Captain George Stacy (Denis Leary), and his dying wish that Peter stay away from Gwen. Although he has ignored Captain Stacy’s last request, Peter’s guilt puts a strain on their relationship.
At the same time, Harry Osborn (Dane DeHaan) returns to New York after spending many years away at the request of his dying father, Norman (Chris Cooper). Norman informs Harry that the genetic illness that plagues him will soon affect Harry. The next day, it is revealed on the news that Norman has died and that Harry is the new CEO of Oscorp. Upon seeing this, Peter re-connects with his old friend and the two begin to pick up where they left off.
Meanwhile, Max Dillion (Jamie Foxx), a lonely electrical engineer at Oscorp, develops an obsession with Spider-Man after the web-slinger saved his life during a police chase through the city. While tending to a risky maintenance task, Max falls into a tank filled with experimental eels, changing his body into a human mass of electricity. Unaware of what’s happened to him or what he needs to do, Max wanders into Times Square and triggers a blackout, absorbing the energy into his body. Spider-Man arrives on the scene to help, but the police on the scene start shooting, Max thinks Spider-Man has betrayed him and attacks. Spider-Man defeats Max, but Max vows to destroy Spider-Man, eventually adopting the name Electro.
As all this occurs, Peter begins looking deeper into the deaths of his father, Richard (Campbell Scott), and mother, Mary (Embeth Davidtz). His obsession with finding out the truth raises concern from Aunt May (Sally Field) that he might be going too far. When he eventually discovers the truth about what secrets his father kept, it is a revelation that leads him on the path to a defining moment that impacts the future of Peter Parker’s life, as well as Spider-Man’s.
This is the best Spider-Man film to date.
Sam Raimi/Tobey Maguire fans may not like it, but let’s be honest: this film triumphs over Spider-Man 2 (2004), and here are the reasons why:
1) Andrew Garfield *IS* Peter Parker/Spider-Man
Andrew Garfield gave a convincing performance in the first film and he continues to do so in the sequel.
I was never completely sold on Tobey Maguire as Peter and from what I understand, Andrew is closer to the comic book counterpart than Tobey ever was. I don’t read Marvel Comics, but Andrew brings charisma to the role much more effectively. Something about Tobey’s baby faced features, goofy grins, and laughable crying faces (known around the internet as Tobeyface) were difficult to take seriously (and Tobey’s acting in Spider-Man 3 didn’t help). Compared to Tobey, Andrew’s portrayal features a smart nerd, but he at least has social skills to blend in with his peers (plus, he doesn’t dress like a social outcast with thick glasses and nerdy button up shirts). His Peter has more of a personality and it reflects when he wears the Spider-Man costume. As the costumed web-slinger, he seems to enjoy doing what he’s able to do, especially making wisecracks to criminals. Andrew also appears to be a strong individual (both physically and mentally), has displays real emotions (much more convincing than Tobeyface). Andrew’s Peter comes off as a likable individual that you would want to associate with.
As for Tobey’s Peter Parker, he is clearly a nerd and it reflects in his dress style and lack of social skills with his peers. After he becomes Spider-Man, Tobey’s Peter is plagued with teen angst (even in his adult years) and constantly complains about the drawbacks to being a superhero, something Andrew’s Peter embraces and has fun with. Tobey’s Peter was somewhat likable, but that disappears in Spider-Man 3 when Peter lets the fame of Spider-Man go to his head and he becomes a inconsiderate jerk. The last thing you want as an actor or a writer is for the audience to hate the titular superhero, and Spider-Man 3 did just that, ruining what little credibility Tobey had for the role.
2) The Amazing Spider-Man 2 does a better job of portraying Peter’s conflict as Spider-Man
At the time of its release, Spider-Man 2 was considered by many as one of the best superhero films ever made. Recent superhero films such as The Dark Knight (2008) and The Avengers (2012) have increase the standard of what to expect in a superhero movie.
The concept for Spider-Man 2 wasn’t a bad idea; it shows the toll that being Spider-Man has on Peter’s personal life as Doctor Otto Octavius begins to terrorize New York after an experiment goes wrong that results in the death of his wife. It’s a great idea, especially with showing how Peter struggles to make a living and balancing Spider-Man in addition to being Peter Parker, college student. As questions his desire of wanting to be Spider-Man, his powers begin to disappear. The main reason? It’s because he’s moping over Mary Jane Watson and he figures being normal will solve his problems. That’s right; Mary Jane is his source of conflict.
With The Amazing Spider-Man 2, Peter’s dual identity as Spider-Man puts stress on his relationship with Gwen Stacy, but he doesn’t regard his powers as a curse by acting with a mopey “pity me” attitude. He has other conflicts in his life with starting a new life chapter after graduating high school and solving the mystery of his parents disappearance. To make things more complicated, his old childhood friend Harry Osborn has returned after being sent away. Peter wants to re-connect with his friend, but Harry’s obsession of curing his illness with Spider-Man’s help leads to an internal conflict that forces Peter to consider if he should help his friend. These conflicts put a stress upon Peter but he finds a way through them, adding more layers and depth to his character, something that was sorely lacked in the previous film franchise.
3) Dane DeHaan’s Harry Osborn/Green Goblin is more menacing and evil than James Franco’s portrayal
Yes, they are completely different characterizations of Harry Osborn, however James Franco’s Harry Osborn is a genuine good guy that takes over his father’s company. He fits the role as Peter’s best friend, however his Green Goblin (or rather, “New Goblin”) was poorly executed. His reason for hating Spider-Man was simply because of his father’s death, which is understandable, but the audience is left with someone who tries and fails to kill Spider-Man early on in Spider-Man 3 with a brief fight against Peter Parker (not in his Spider-Man costume) and loses his memory after the fight. When he does regain his memories, the trusty Osborn family butler tells him that his father died by the blades from his own glider and Spider-Man never killed him. In turn, Harry turns into Peter’s ally and eventually sacrifices himself. It was a massive letdown of a popular villain battle that was built up over two movies to create an explosive battle in the third movie. Instead, we got a brief battle and James Franco extracting revenge by breaking up Peter’s relationship with Mary Jane.
The new take on Harry is a much more convincing portrayal. Harry isn’t a bad guy at the start, and throughout the film you slowly see a change in his behavior, especially when his illness progresses. He looks to Spider-Man as his only hope to cure him and save his life by a blood transfusion, but when Spider-Man refuses to help, his hatred toward the web-slinger has merit. Harry eventually gets his hands on the venom from the genetically enhanced spiders, but instead of curing him, it speeds up his condition and causes him to go insane, prompting him to seek revenge against Spider-Man. This results in a battle between the Green Goblin and Spider-Man that (while brief) still makes up for the disappointing ‘fight’ from Spider-Man 3.
4) For once, neither villain has a change of heart at the end of the film
Including the Sam Raimi Spider-Man films, The Amazing Spider-Man 2 breaks the trend of villains having a change of heart. Otto Octavius/Doc Ock (Spider-Man 2), Flint Marko/Sandman (Spider-Man 3), Harry Osborn/Green Goblin (Spider-Man 3) and Curt Connors/The Lizard (The Amazing Spider-Man) are good-hearted men who have something happen to them that leads them down the villain’s path. They cause terror upon New York and battle Spider-Man. By the end of these films, these characters end up having a change of heart and redeem themselves.
That doesn’t happen in this movie.
Electro and the Green Goblin are fueled by hatred toward Spider-Man and they become so obsessed with revenge that redemption isn’t an option. Instead, we’re treated with the death of Electro (at least, we assume he’s dead) and Harry being incarcerated with no remorse for his actions. It’s a refreshing way to deal with the villains in this go around, leaving the door for Green Goblin (and possibly Electro) to return cause more havoc in future Amazing Spider-Man sequels or the Sinister Six spin-off film.
5) Spider-Man’s mask doesn’t get destroyed!
Finally! While his mask does obtain minor damage, Marc Webb learned from Sam Raimi’s mistakes and put an end to having Peter’s mask get damaged to the point where it reveals his face in the climatic battle. So, no more excuses for ripping the mask off.
Hans Zimmer composed the score, along with The Magnificant Six (made up of Pharrell Williams, Johnny Marr (Modest Mouse), Michael Einziger (Incubus), Junkie XL, Andrew Kawczynski, and Steve Mazzaroritten). Unfortunately, much like James Horner’s score in the first film, Zimmer’s composition lacks the distinctive, memorable themes that his other works (such as the Dark Knight trilogy and Man of Steel) have and is easily forgettable once you leave the theater.
Felicity Jones has a minor role in this film as Felicia, Harry’s executive assistant. Felicia could very well be Felicia Hardy, a.k.a. the Black Cat, a popular anti-heroine from the comics. Having her included sets up many possibilities for future entries in the franchise.
While the promotional material implies that Aleski Sytsevich (Paul Giamatti), aka the Rhino, has a major role in the film, his purpose in the film is very minor. In other words, the promotional material is misleading. Don’t be expecting much from this classic Spider-Man villain.
With terrific visual effects and a plot that keeps your interest from the start, The Amazing Spider-Man 2 is a worthy sequel and is the best Spider-Man film to date. Although it doesn’t stand on par with Captain America: The Winter Soldier, The Amazing Spider-Man 2 does not fail to disappoint casual comic book movie fans. This movie is definitely worth the price of admission.
Grade: 4.5 out of 5.
One last thing;
Is there a Post Credit Scene?
There is a mid-credits scene, but it has nothing to do with The Amazing Spider-Man 2. Instead, it’s a teaser scene from X-Men: Days of Future Past featuring Jennifer Lawrence as Mystique.
As for the signature Marvel Post-Credits scene, there isn’t one… unless you have the Shazam app. If you don’t know what Shazam is, it’s an app that uses your smart phone’s microphone to identify a song, runs it against a central database, and then tells the user what the song is. Shazam users are supposed to run the app during the Alicia Keyes song “It’s on Again.” The app will “unlock a look into the sinister future.”
Translation: it’s a teaser video featuring equipment designs of who will appear in the Sinister Six film.
If you were like me, you probably missed this little bit. There is good news though: you can Shazam the song off YouTube and still get the clip.