[Movie Review] ‘Spider-Man’ Spins Amazing Sequel
Spider-Man swings back into action through the busy metropolis of New York City in an Amazing sequel that keeps the humanity of awkward teen Peter Parker just visible enough to remind us what makes this superhero unique.
When The Amazing Spider-Man 2 opens, our web-slinging hero happily declares that he loves everything about being Spider-Man. It’s believable, considering this kid is literally flying high on his own heroics and the city’s growing affection towards him.
It’s only Peter Parker’s love life – in love with the cute blonde Gwen Stacy, but sworn to her father to stay away from her – that is troubling him just before the sequel takes off with its sinister plot to systematically pile on the weight of being Spider-Man.
While Superman is an often unrelatable alien, Batman is a rich grump, Wolverine is a decades-old trained warrior, and the Hulk is an uncontrollable monster, audiences have always found Spider-Man to be perhaps the most human of all superheroes, with his high school insecurities and sometimes misplaced priorities on full display even from his earliest incarnations in the classic Marvel comic books.
I enjoyed the first film in Spider-Man’s recent Amazing reboot in 2012, and I was expecting the sequel to fall considerably short on the heart while amping up the spectacle, but I am pleased to report that director Marc Webb has maintained a cohesiveness regarding Peter Parker’s emotional arch while certainly never skimping on the shock and awe aspects.
Andrew Garfield (The Social Network) retains is best friend likableness from the first film, as Peter tries to balance his life as a teenager late for high school graduation, in love, and facing an uncertain future with that of his high flying alter ego, now a famous superstar giving hope to the citizens of New York.
Emma Stone (Zombieland) reprises her role as Peter’s love interest Gwen Stacy, a stylish young professional working for the nefarious Oscrop, who may just be too smart for her own good. The chemistry that was so strong between Garfield and Stone in the first film is once again off the carts, but it probably doesn’t hurt that the couple are dating off screen as well.
While Garfield’s Parker is clearly the heart of the movie, the unrelenting pulse that drvies it is Jamie Foxx’s (Ray) pathetic-gone-demented turn as Electro, an old school comic book villain getting his first big screen treatment here.
Foxx relishes in the transformation from nerdy-but-genius Oscrop employee Max Dillon to the vengeance-hungry power-consuming living charge that is Electro, serving up one of the most memorable and colorful bad guys to wreak havoc and destruction in recent years.
In a star-making performance, University of North Carolina School of Arts graduate Dane Dehaan (Chronicle) is mesmerizing as the Harry Osborne, Peter’s childhood friend who returns from boarding school to take over his dying father’s Oscorp empire.
Dehaan is clearly having fun with the role, and his inevitable transformation into the Green Goblin is one of the film’s best sequences. It is also probably the scariest scene, as I heard one youngster seated behind me in the theater say, “I’m going to close my eyes now.”
The other thing about Dehaan’s portrayal of Harry that got to me is that he’s not really that bad of a guy, until Peter gives him (good?) reason to get mad. I found myself sympathizing with Dehaan’s Osborne more than anyone in The Amazing Spider-Man 2, and I can’t wait to see more of the Green Goblin.
The summer blockbuster movie season has officially arrived, with Spidey showing us all just how far some talented acting, a capable director, a couple web shooters, and a lot of heart can take you.
Superhero movies love to remind us that being super is not always that easy, and the hard-hitting climax of the Amazing sequel certainly does that, but Spider-Man also does a great job of backing up the idea that it is the hero part that is most important.
Official Rating: 4 out of 5 Stars
Reviewed by: Matt Artz
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The Amazing Spider-Man 2 (rated PG13) is now playing at R/C KDH Movies 10 in Kill Devil Hills.