It’s been said a thousand times before and it’ll be said a thousand times again; Spider-Man’s most enduring quality stems from his alter ego, Peter Parker. For most of us, it’s hard to imagine ourselves as millionaire playboys with suits of hi tech armor or batmobiles and we can’t really see ourselves as Kryptonian gods or super soldiers from World War II
Peter Parker is the everyman. Long before most other comic books, Spider Man gave equal attention to the troubles of the man behind the mask. We’d see spidey fight the Vulture and then deal with the fallout in his personal life as he missed a date or his aunt fell sick (for the hundredth time). In short, we love Spidey because we know that feel.
This is important, because no matter what your opinion, you can’t deny that The Amazing Spider Man 2 is the most spidery Spider Man film yet. What I mean to say is, this film absolutely nails the essence of Spider Man. While it may (ever so slightly) suffer from one villain too many, for better or worse it shows us Peter’s hectic world as he tries to balance his two lives, a job, an on/off girlfriend, college, the mystery of his parents, and a whole three supervillains. It’s still better than Spider Man 3.
While the overstuffed plot can occasionally feel like it’s simply setting up future sequels and spin offs (almost every supporting character we see eventually turns out to be a villain in the comics, such as Alistair Smythe and Felicia Hardy) it absolutely manages to be an entertaining flick in its own right. It’s no Dark Knight, but it doesn’t need to be. Like Spider Man himself, it’s larger than life, colorful, and fun.
Perhaps most importantly, they made Spider Man funny. Finally. From the pitch perfect (and massively entertaining) opening chase sequence right into some of the darker moments our webbed amigo still cracks wise, because that’s what he does and that’s how he deals. While the first Amazing showed us a glimpse of this, number 2 goes even further with it and given some of the events later in the film, his sense of humour goes a long way in telling viewers about Peter Parker’s strength of spirit and adversity in the face of mechanical rhinos and weird Goblin dudes.
In the hands of a lesser actor, this confident, smartarse Spidey may have come across as an annoying dick, but Andrew Garfield, having grown up a fan himself delivers the definitive Spider Man with a pitch perfect sense of drama, humor, and physical comedy that never feels over the top. Together with Emma Stone (still an awesome Gwen Stacy) they make every scene they share so adorable you either want to hug the screen or throw up, depending on how cynical you are.
Sadly, it’s the villains that bring the film down ever so slightly. Dane Dehaan’s Harry Osborn is just the right amount of spoilt playboy and simmering crazy person, but when he does finally snap it somehow becomes a bit too much, a little cartoony. It doesn’t help that compared to Spider Man’s all new, so beautifully faithful to the source material I want to cry suit, The Green Goblin still doesn’t really resemble the Green Goblin. Besides being green I mean.
Conversely, Jamie Foxx’s pre Electro performance is so over the top, Jim Carrey, haha this is what boffins are like, that I found myself glad when he fell into a pool of eels and decided to not talk as much. Visually however, Electro is stunning and his fight scenes with Spider Man are easily some of the films highlights, including an awesome Times Square showdown that almost outdoes the final setpiece (actually I think it probably does.
What’s most annoying about the villains though, is that they both feel crammed in to the point that neither gets a satisfying arc. Again, it’s clear things are being set in motion for the future but as a standalone film in this respect it left me cold.
Those niggles aside, I truly believe that this is the best Spider Man film yet. Funny, heartwarming, and with enough set pieces to satisfy the kids who just wanna see Spidey punch the shiny blue guy. Without the need to retell the origin story, we’ve been offered our first pure glimpse at the start of a new Spidey universe. If this film is anything to go by, it could go absolutely anywhere.