I never really enjoyed Sam Raimi’s Spider-Man trilogy so was pleased when it was announced that the series was being rebooted with Mark Webb directing, whose name suggests he is perfect for the job, and the instantly likeable Emma Stone and Andrew Garfield as the main cast members. Unfortunately, although it indicated the series had potential, 2012’s The Amazing Spider-Man did not improve on Raimi’s films as much as I had hoped or expected. Therefore, I am pleased to report that The Amazing Spider-Man 2 is a vast improvement that develops on the promising elements of the first film.
Max Dillion (Jamie Foxx) is an employee at Oscorp and his only desire is to be noticed. He gets his wish when he is transformed into living electricity as a result of an industrial accident, leading to him becoming the film’s main villain, Electro. Peter Parker/ Spider-Man (Andrew Garfield) now has to keep the city safe from Electro’s rages whilst attempting to fix his faltering relationship with Gwen Stacey (Emma Stone) and decide whether or not to help his dying friend Harry Osborn (Dane DeHaan).
Emma Stone and Andrew Garfield’s on screen chemistry is main strength of The Amazing Spider-Man 2, conveying again how the casting choices were perfect. Garfield’s performance is excellent, as Spider-Man in the action scenes and as Peter Parker in the sweet, intimate scenes with Stone. Also, Stone’s Gwen Stacy is a familiar character presented in a way audiences are not used to. She insists on being actively involved in Spider-Man’s heroics, making Peter worry about her safety and a promise he made to her father before he died. The scenes in which they are both in are particularly special with their relationship seeming very believable, for obvious reasons. If you did not fall in love with them, especially Emma Stone, in the first film, you certainly will now.
However, its clear that Mark Webb is more comfortable directing the dramatic scenes, leading to a few tonality issues in the action scenes. The action set-pieces and special effects themselves are certainly better than the first film but the little quips that are woven into the scenes, such as Spidey donning a hard-hat and joining the local firemen whilst fighting Electro, seem out of place. Before seeing the film I suspected it may suffer from having more than one villain, as Spider-Man 3 did. However, it is dealt with relatively successfully and the plot is well structured so that enough screen time is given to the two main villains: Electro and Green Goblin (Dane DeHaan). The villain’s themselves are okay, Dane DeHaan is excellently creepy as Harry Osborn and later the Green Goblin, but although Electro looks and sounds impressive, he does not have much of a role in the story other than as someone for Spider-Man to deal with, which is disappointing. It is refreshing though to have villains that do not want to be criminals and just feel hurt and betrayed, leading them to being violent as a last resort, particularly after the criticism of Man of Steel for ignoring the impact the violence had on the public.
The ending, part of which introduces Paul Giamatti as ‘Rhino’, is perfect for setting up a dramatic and action-packed third instalment in the series. The final scene perfectly showcases the film’s new slow-motion action (which is not overused) and the instantly likeable side of Garfield’s Spider-Man whilst acting as a slingshot for part three, which now has much higher expectations.
In short, although The Amazing Spider-Man 2 is not perfect, the chemistry between Emma Stone and Andrew Garfield’s characters and development of the first film’s promising elements makes this new Spider-Man film the best one yet.
The Amazing Spider-Man 2 (2014), directed by Mark Webb, is distributed in the UK by Sony Pictures Entertainment, certificated 12A.