There have been many complaints about The Amazing Spider-Man 2 posted on the Internet. Some of them are legitimate gripes, but most of them are personal nitpicks. Honestly, despite the flaws in the story, this movie presents the best Spider-Man in any of the five movies so far. Seriously, this is how the Spider-Man that I grew up reading in the comics should act.
There are some spoilers in this review.
Following up the origin tale in the last movie, The Amazing Spider-Man 2 picks up with the mysterious disappearance of Peter’s mom and dad from many years before. We see more of the events that happened the day that they disappeared, and instead of just letting this mystery continue on throughout the next movie, they just blow their entire load here. We see what happened to his parents, we see what his dad was working on and we learn why the spider was able to turn Peter into Spider-Man but was never able to save Norman Osborn’s life.
Speaking of Norman Osborn, it turns out he isn’t really responsible for anything when it comes to Spider-Man, although he was an evil man before he ended up on his deathbed. Instead, we get Harry Osborn in a rehash of the Sam Raimi Spider-Man movies, feeling betrayed and turning on Spider-Man. Sadly, this entire part felt rushed, although the feeling of betrayal was real. What might hurt the movie more than anything is that The Green Goblin was the secondary villain here, but had the most emotional impact and the weakest storyline.
However, regardless of what anyone will tell you, Jamie Foxx was spectacular as Electro. Fans of the classic Marvel Universe have expressed disappointment in how Electro was portrayed, but for those who don’t know, his powers were pretty much the same as the Ultimates version of the character. However, his origin more closely aligns with the animated Spectacular Spider-Man, where Max Dillon was a good guy until the accident that gave him powers. However, when the police and general public called him a freak and a monster, he finally snapped.
From the start, Jamie Foxx reminded me of Jim Carey’s portrayal of The Riddler – someone who just wanted attention and for people to notice him. Then, when that didn’t happen, he pushed back against a society that rejected him.
Now, for the really good part.
When Sam Raimi made Spider-Man, I felt that it was a paint-by-numbers superhero movie instead of a Sam Raimi movie. In Spider-Man 2, Raimi finally let loose and we saw a lot of his personal touches (such as the operating room scene). I see the same thing with Marc Webb. Since his only movie before this was (500) Days of Summer, I was not sure what to expect from a big budget action movie. He impressed me a lot and I really liked The Amazing Spider-Man.
The Amazing Spider-Man 2 is a much better, more mature and polished movie that the first one. The biggest reason for this is Spider-Man himself. In the comics, Spider-Man is a wise-cracking, smart mouth who almost taunts his villains as he is fighting them. From the start, when he is chasing a truck driven by Aleksei Sytsevich, he is more mouthy than he was in any of the four previous movies. It was a perfect depiction of the Spider-Man persona.
Seriously, Andrew Garfield is a thousand times better as Spider-Man than Tobey Maguire ever was.
Also, when listening to people talk about Man of Steel, there is a lot of talk about people dying all around the battles and Superman never seeming to try to save them. The Amazing Spider-Man 2 fixed that in SPADES. Outside of some traffic accidents that he couldn’t stop, Spider-Man spends every fight in this movie making a concentrated effort to save innocent bystanders while also fighting the villains. There is a perfect depiction of this in a fight with Electro. While he could have just been focused on stopping Electro, he noticed that a group of people were about to die horribly by touching a live metal hand rail. While dodging Electro’s blasts, he also makes sure to shoot his webs at each bystander and saves them at the same time.
Spider-Man also helps a kid with a science project. I swear, this was the PERFECT depiction of Spider-Man.
Marc Webb was also able to bring back the directing style that made him so in demand from (500) Days of Summer and it happened in the more personal moments. When Peter and Harry first reconnected, it was a perfectly paced scene and felt so natural. The stuff between Peter and Gwen was also perfectly done, relationship scenes that felt real and not like they were pulled out of a comic book. That made the end so devastating.
I also want to say that I am very happy they kept out the entire public and police fearing Spider-Man that plagued the comics for so many years. In the background, J. Jonah Jameson was still trying to turn the public against him, but in this movie, the police and crowds love Spider-Man. That allows him to be Spider-Man and keeps the movie a very fun thrill ride.
OK, let’s talk the ending. What happened in the first movie with Ben dying to help Spider-Man become a better hero was important. For those who don’t read comics, Spider-Man is a character that always does the best thing, always sacrifices everything, but he is also a character that always loses everything. Spider-Man is strong because of his losses. His wisecracking is almost a self defense mechanism because he uses his losses to become stronger because he doesn’t want to lose anyone else. Yet, somehow he does.
The end of this movie was so important in building that character even further. There is a scene towards the end of the movie where he watches Gwen’s graduation speech and realized that she was almost talking to him. It was so important and made him realize how important he was. It wasn’t about his losses, but Spider-Man is about saving other people from losing things in their lives as well.
This entire movie showed Spider-Man not just fighting villains, but saving people. He can’t always save himself, or those he loves, but he will do his damndest to try. That is what makes Spider-Man great. This movie isn’t perfect. It rushes the Green Goblin stuff too much and I feel it just tried to do more than it needed to in one movie, but at the end it is the perfect depiction of Spider-Man and who he is supposed to be.