As a UK resident I have been able to see Amazing Spider-Man 2 a few days early and wanted to share a few thoughts with you. I will keep spoilers to a bare minimum as I don’t wish to ruin the experience for anyone. If you read no further, my parting words would be I enjoyed this movie, and encourage you to see it.
After the jump I will highlight (with only minor spoilers) why. Continue at your own risk, if like me you have already seen it please don’t mention any specific spoilers in the comments.
1. Andrew Garfield. Andrew Garfield’s performance was one of the few things from the first Amazing Spider-Man I really enjoyed. I felt he was the right actor in the wrong movie. I’m glad to say this movie is better suited to his Spider-Man and Peter Parker. Garfield delivers a Peter Parker who is funny, well meaning and emotional. I have read reviews that criticised the film’s “emo” scenes, I would argue that the few “emo” scenes there are, are relevant to the plot and true to the character of Peter Parker. Last week I saw Captain America 2, and Steve Rogers is stoic, Peter is emotional. To shy away from that wouldn’t be true to the character. I also enjoyed that the film committed some time to Peter as a scientist. Tobey Maguire’s Spider-Man was “brilliant, but lazy” and as a result we never really saw him experiment, so was glad to see this Peter practically apply his knowledge. However this is a duel role, and Garfield also delivers the most wise-ass Spider-Man I have ever seen. Not all the jokes are side splitting funny, but they are perfect Spider-Man jokes.
2. Uncle Ben. I think it’s safe to say the previous four Spider-Man movies have mined this concept for all it’s worth. I was convinced that well was dry. The idea of Uncle Ben has been well played out and it was refreshing that it took a back seat in this picture. Ben is referred to sparingly, and when he is referenced it is poignant, and not just to remind Peter about responsibility. Ben’s role in the movie carried a different message to what we normally see and it was very welcome.
3. CGI Spider-Man. Regardless of what you may feel about the plot of the film I would defy any Spider-Man fan to not get a kick out of the web swinging scenes. This is the best Spider-Man has ever looked on film and the scenes where he swings though the city look amazing (dammit). Not only that but I particularly enjoyed how spider senses were depicted, as I don’t think this was really achieved in the previous film. I think if you compare this to the first Spider-Man movie we can agree that the CGI has come along way, and it’s great that we live in a time where Spider-Man’s very unique style can be present so well on film. You will believe a man can web-sling.The fight scenes with both Electro and Green Goblin are well structured and dynamic using full advantage of the power sets involved.
4. The worst marketing campaign ever. I honestly think that if you are going into this hoping to see an epic Electro vs. Spider-Man story you will be disappointed. Don’t get me wrong Jamie Fox delivers on the what the script gave him, and Max Dillion is certainly a more developed character than say the Red Skull in the first Captain America movie, but Amazing Spider-Man 2 is not about Spider-Man vs Electro. It is about Peter Parker. The film explores his relationships with all his parents, his friends and Gwen, and how his decisions effect those around him. I appreciate that would make for a very boring poster, but it would be more honest. I did however enjoy Electro, the Green Goblin and Rhino. This was probably the most successful attempt at multiple villains since the Dark Knight. It’s probably second only to Dark Knight in this regard. The Rhino especially was very well handled, and may be my favourite use of a Spider-Man villain in a cinematic universe. I would describe Captain America 2 as a finite graphic novel, where the plot takes place over a few days, and is solely about the mission. Amazing Spider-Man 2 is more like a years worth of comics, where the story covers a year in the hero’s life and is about more than just the villain of the movie. There are tangents, but only one that left me scratching my head.
5. Cameos. There are a number of cameos in the movie, and for the most part I would take them all with a pinch of salt. Some, like Jonah I found very clever, others like “Felicia” or Smythe I found to be largely pointless. If you are looking for a film about Peter, Gwen, Harry or Max, I think you will enjoy this. If you are hoping for a detailed exploration of Norman you may feel let down. I think there are a number of things that will frustrate those looking for a faithful Lee/Ditko Spider-Man story, however I also think they adapt a number of things with a high level of fidelity.
For the most part I found this a gripping cinema experience. There was a moment I realised I hadn’t seen Spider-Man in a while, but didn’t care because Garfield, Stone and Dehaan where more than entertaining. There where however one or two things, mostly concerning Peter’s father I found unwelcome. It’s a subplot that was cut from the first film, and had it be cut here it’s likely I would have scored the film even higher. I probably need longer to reflect, but at the moment this is my second favourite Spider-Man movie.
The mid-credit scene is pointless, don’t stick around.