Amazing Spider-Man 2 Review

poster from the Sony Pictures film Amazing Spider-man 2

Spider-man and I have a weird relationship. I’ve read some of the comics, watched the cartoon, and I even own two of the movies. I think Spider-man is cool… as long as he doesn’t open his mouth. When he starts wisecracking I mostly just want to slap him. This latest incarnation is the mouthiest of all, but I keep going to see the movies anyway.

Spider-man struggles with his girlfriend’s decision to move away and his old friend’s need for his blood as a new electricity-based supervillain threatens the city.

There’s so much going on in Amazing Spider-man 2 (not all of it necessarily relevant) that it’s hard to boil it down to a coherent logline. Despite the logjam of subplots it all seems to work together somehow, so in the end the movie is about as good as a Spider-man movie could be.

The film begins with Peter Parker (Andrew Garfield) missing his own graduation because apparently five million New York City cops are helpless to stop one Russian gangster driving an eighteen wheeler. So while Peter’s girlfriend Gwen Stacey (Emma Stone) makes a superhero motivational speech thinly disguised as a valedictorian address, Peter battles Aleksei Sytsevich (Paul Giamatti with barbed wire tattooed on his head) and rescues idiotic police officers who apparently can’t even drive a car without Spider-man’s help.

Spider-man catches a cop car  from the Sony Pictures film Amazing Spider-man 2

For future reference, the end with the rubber things is supposed to go on the ground.

Gwen knows that Peter is Spider-man and she thinks it’s cool. She thinks it’s less cool that Peter keeps breaking up with her because he promised her dead police chief daddy he’d protect her from his crazy life. So when smartass Spider-man turns back into stuttering, mumbling Peter, Gwen breaks up with him and applies to college in England.

Emma Stone and Andrew Garfield  from the Sony Pictures film Amazing Spider-man 2

Don’t worry, kids. They’re dating in real life.

Add his girlfriend woes to his existing issues (being abandoned by his parents, his Uncle Ben getting killed in the last movie) and Peter’s got plenty to share when his pal Harry Osborn (Dane DeHaan) returns from boarding school. Harry’s got woes too – his daddy (Chris Cooper) abandoned him and then died, plus it turns out that he’s got some sort of fatal disease. He needs Spider-man’s blood so he can heal.

Dane DeHaan as Harry Osborne  from the Sony Pictures film Amazing Spider-man 2

I wouldn’t give powers to a kid who looks like he attends a boarding school for future serial killers.

Peter’s leery of helping Harry experiment with his genome because a) that didn’t work out so well for the last guy and b) Peter’s been investigating his dead dad (Campbell Scott) and with help from his Aunt May (Sally Field) he found a secret, miraculously-still-functioning lab any hobo with a subway token could walk right into. This is sort of kind of related to the rest of the movie but not really.

Sally Field as Aunt May  from the Sony Pictures film Amazing Spider-man 2

Richard Parker! You better autoclave these Petri dishes when you’re done with them!

Harry’s not the only budding supervillain with a love-turned-hate relationship with Spider-man. Max Dillon (Jamie Foxx), an electrical engineer at Oscorp, becomes Spider-man’s biggest, creepiest, most schizophrenic stalker after Spider-man rescues him from a speeding truck.

Jamie Foxx as Max Dillon  from the Sony Pictures film Amazing Spider-man 2

Hey Spider-man, you like my stalker wall?

Andrew Garfield as Peter Parker  from the Sony Pictures film Amazing Spider-man 2

Yeah man. Excellent use of string lines.

Max’s accident with electric eels (yes, really) gives him the miraculous ability to conjure neoprene underpants and control electricity. As luck would have it, Oscorp recently rewired the whole city to be vulnerable to huge blue glowing men with electrical powers. I can only assume Oscorp also removed all of the city’s diesel backup generators, since all the hospital staff and air traffic controllers manage to do is sit in the dark waiting for their charges to die.

Harry Osborne talks to Electro  from the Sony Pictures film Amazing Spider-man 2

Hey, can you turn the power back on? I need to microwave my Hot Pocket.

Gwen is like super science girl, so during the great electricity disaster my hope was that her character would be used as something other than a damsel in distress, but nope! Her BIG IMPORTANT TASK is so easy a monkey could do it. And then Spider-man has to save her life like 40 times in ten minutes.

Emma Stone as Gwen Stacy  from the Sony Pictures film Amazing Spider-man 2

If I squint, maybe I can pretend she’s flying at the bad guys holding a Harry Potter wand.

The real star of the movie is not Gwen. It’s not Max or Harry. It’s not even Spider-man. It’s their powers. Marc Webb revels in every web slow motion web and lightning bolt, lovingly rendering each glittering shard as they demolish every pane of glass in a six-block radius (sometimes more than once). His massive love affair with slow motion rivals J.J. Abrams’ obsession with lens flare and lengthens the movie by 15-20 minutes.

Spider-man battles Electro  from the Sony Pictures film Amazing Spider-man 2

I guess that’s why you’re supposed to see it in 3D, like I didn’t.

But as much as I like to make fun of it, it does look pretty cool. And as long as Spider-man is busy web-swinging or getting electrocuted, he can’t make wisecracks, so I enjoyed myself. Amazing Spider-man 2 is probably the best of the Spider-man movies, though of course it can’t hold a candle to my beloved Iron Man. So go. Take your kids. They’ll like it. A kid (Jorge Vega) even has a bit part in the movie.

Spider-man and Jorge from the Sony Pictures film Amazing Spider-man 2

Awww. That’s adorbs, you guys.

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