Movie Review: The Amazing Spider-Man 2
Andrew Garfield (“The Social Network”) and Emma Stone (“The Amazing Spider-Man”) reprise their roles as the impossibly adorable couple, Peter Parker and Gwen Stacy, in “The Amazing Spider-Man 2,” directed by Marc Webb.
Peter has now gotten the hang of being a well-known web-slinger, swinging expertly from one skyscraper to another, merrily pulling off aerial acrobatic moves, getting cheeky with criminals, cops and citizens alike while saving the city.
Less successful is his on-and-off relationship with Gwen. After all, it’s not easy to juggle his dual roles as a superhero and boyfriend, graduating from high school and thinking about their future, whilst being haunted by the image of her late father, a sheriff, who died in the first installment. He made him promise to stay away from Gwen in order to keep her out of harm’s way. Another element in Peter’s life is his angst, needing to find out the truth behind the disappearance and death of his parents, which is in conflict with his protective aunt May (Sally Field, “Lincoln”).
The trailer promotes Electro (Jamie Foxx, “White House Down”) as the main villain. A nerdy, self esteem-challenged electrical engineer with Oscorp and an obsessive fan of Spider-Man, he gets supercharged and turns electric blue when he accidentally gets electrocuted in a water tank filled with eels in a lab mishap. The special effects on Electro and his one-note grudge against Spider Man, are not convincing.
A much better, substantial villain is Harry Osborn (Dane DeHann, “Lincoln“), Peter’s long-lost best friend and heir to Oscorp, who turns into the Green Goblin toward the end. It would have been better had the story focused on Harry instead, and his friendship and history with Peter, and the development towards his transformation. DeHann is terrific. At the start Harry has a chilling encounter with his dad (Chris Cooper, “The Company Men“), head of Oscorp, who is dying of an incurable disease, and tells him that he would suffer the same fate because the disease is hereditary. Next, Harry desperately wants a sample of Spider-Man’s self-healing blood. At the end he realizes who Spider-Man really is. Feeling severely betrayed by your best friend is a very personal kind of hurt.
As if two major villains are not enough, another villain, Rhino (Paul Giamatti, “The Ides of March”) makes an appearance, albeit briefly.
What strikes me the most is the style of the movie. It’s filmed in a true comics fashion, with stop-and-go motions in action scenes, such as the way Spider-Man nimbly flips and hurls, and cars comically smash and pile up. The action set pieces, first dealing with a hijacked truck full of plutonium and later electrically charged fight in Times Square, are spectacular illustrations. The style makes the actions not look as real, yet refreshing for a change.
A real-life couple, Garfield and Stone’s chemistry is undeniable. Both as Peter and Spider Man, Garfield has an easy charm, whether being silly or solemn. Stone sparkles with smarts and style. They’re a delight to watch. If you know anything about Spider-Man comics, you would have a sinking feeling during the clock tower sequence, especially following a sweet bridge scene, and recalling Gwen’s foreshadowing valedictorian speech at the beginning of the movie. In a movie of superhero and supervillains, Peter and Gwen’s relationship is the strongest aspect of the story. It’s hard to imagine how Mary Jane, Peter’s future lady love, can top what he shares with Gwen.
The movie may be lacking focus, overstuffed and overlong (2.5 hours), but I didn’t find the changing tone distracting. The cheery approach suits Spider-Man’s lighter personality, but the movie seriously gets down to business as well.
Unlike last month’s “Captain America: Winter Soldier,” “The Amazing Spider-Man 2” may not be one of the most amazing superhero movies, but it’s amazingly entertaining enough.
Copyright (c) 2014. Nathalia Aryani.