Review: The Amazing Spider-Man 2

20140319151353!The_Amazing_Spiderman_2_posterCan a movie that runs close to two and a half hours be rushed?

If it’s The Amazing Spider-Man 2, you can certainly make the argument.

The second installment of the rebooted web slinger is jam packed full of spectacular action sequences and comic book continuity galore.   It’s also got three classic era Spidey foes taking on our favorite web-slinger on the silver screen, though all three don’t necessarily battle Spidey at the same time.   The film also sets the table for several other classic foes to make their way to the big-screen — either in the next two installments that are slated to come our way in the next four years or in the spin-off films.

And yet there were times throughout the movie that it all felt like all of these action sequences were disconnected that lacked the emotional core that set (at least) the first two Sam Raimi movies apart.

Part of it could also be that the film opens with a spectacular Spider-Man chase sequences, full of high flying antics, stunning visual effects and a Spider-Man movie finally getting the essentially quipiness of the character as close to perfect as you could want and it’s all (pretty much) downhill from there.    Director Mark Webb sets the bar so high in the first ten minutes of the movie that it feels like the rest of the movie is struggling to keep up.

What the original reboot got right, this one still continues to get right  — namely that Andrew Garfield and Emma Stone have fantastic on-screen chemistry.  Driven by guilt over his promise to Captain Stacy, Peter loves Gwen but doesn’t feel like he can or should be with her because of the danger his superhero secret identity puts on her.

I didn’t mind the on-again, off-again nature of this story (if you’re read the comics, you know that it was that way from issue to issue) or that Peter is driving by guilt or even the heavy dose of teen angst.  What I minded was the fact that Peter is more driven by guilt over the promise made to Captain Stacy than he is over the death of Uncle Ben.   Even in the rebooted Ultimate continuity, Peter was driven by the death of Uncle Ben as to how and why he had to don the mantle of Spider-Man.   But beyond one brief cameo early in the film by Martin Sheen as Ben Parker, little or nothing is made of this.

Part of it could be that the movie attempts to establish a connection between Peter and his father and delves further into why his parents left Peter with his aunt and uncle in the first movie.

You can tell from this movie that Sony wants to set up a franchise for this rebooted Spidey, which requires a lot of heavy lifting at times.   Not only does Spidey duke it out with the Rhino, Electro and another familiar face from the Spidey canon (it’s not hard to guess, but I won’t spoil it here) but it also gives us hints of future villains to come including Doc Ock, the Vulture, the Black Cat and the Spider-Slayers.   I’m not sure going to the Doc Ock well would work again (simply because of the comparisons  to Spider-Man 2) but I’d love to see Spidey do battle with the Vulture on the silver screen.

Amazing Spider-Man 2 attempts to give Spider-Man a connection to the foes he faces.  In the case of Electro, Max Dillon is Spidey’s biggest fan who is spurred onward by a chance encounter and some kind words from our hero.   On his birthday, Max is transformed into Electro while doing work at Oscorp and heads out because he wants to be seen.   However, once Spidey shows up and the media spotlight falls onto him, Max feels betrayed and that Spider-Man is no longer worthy of friendship but his scorn instead.

Meanwhile, Harry Osborn arrives onto the scene as his father is dying and takes control of Oscorp.    Suffering from the same condition that killed his father, Harry believes Spider-Man to be the key to his healing and salvation.   Harry begs Peter to help him find Spider-Man and is stunned with Spidey rebuffs his request for help.  (Harry wants some of Spidey’s blood for study, believing it holds the cure to his affliction).

The thing that stood out about the first two Raimi movies was the parallels between Spider-Man/Peter and the villains he faced.   Amazing Spider-Man 2 attempts to emulate this but the connections aren’t as strong or well defined.  Again, it feel like the movie needs to take a moment to catch its breath and allow these developments to have an impact on Peter and the audience. But it bounces from one plot point to the next, not allowing the time needed for these things to really have the weight they can or should.

I’m sure that by this point, you’re probably thinking I hated the movie.   That’s not the case.  I enjoyed it a great deal — when the movie gets things right, it gets them absolutely right.   But I still feel like there are a few niggling things that make this a good movie and not necessarily a great one

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