As he graduates from high school, and prepares to move on with the next phase of his life, Peter Parker’s (Andrew Garfield) world is turned upside down when a freak accident turns a man he once helped into a violent, electricity charged killer. As well as this, Parker’s relationship with Gwen (Emma Stone) is not what it once was, and his old friend Harry Osborn (Dane DeHaan) returns to New York with an agenda that will have a huge impact on both Peter Parker and Spider-Man.
First things first, The Amazing Spider-Man was not the film that it could have been, perhaps because the memory of Sam Raimi’s film was a little too fresh, or perhaps because it was hindered by its plot and underdeveloped characters. The good news is that screenwriters Alex Kurtzman, Roberto Orci and Jeff Pinkner have learned from the mistakes of the first film, as has director Marc Webb.
Andrew Garfield seems much more comfortable in Parker and Spider-Man’s skin this time out, and has dialled back the annoying cockiness that marred the first film. Garfield does well with both the comedy and the tragedy in the film, bringing sweet touches to the character. Emma Stone has a little more fire this time, thankfully, and she proves that she is a woman who is more than able to stand on her own and support Spider-Man through her own strengths. Jamie Foxx obviously relished his chance to play a beaten down loner and a electrified villain in the same film, and is fantastic in both roles. Dane DeHaan proves that his outstanding performance in Chronicle was no fluke, as he brings the troubled and troubling Harry Osborn to life.
The story, as we may expect from a superhero film, is a lengthy and rather complicated one; as Parker finds out more about his parents, a new threat rises, sworn to take him down. The personal side of the story – Peter Parker’s side – is filled with emotion and nuance, and could almost stand alone, apart from the action and superhero story, as a film in it’s own right. As far as Spider-Man’s story goes, it is still a personal one, as both villains take personal umbrage to Spider-Man’s actions, but since Parker disguises himself in the Spider-Man suit, this gives a layer of distance between Parker and Spider-Man’s foes. That said, however, many of the film’s events are foreshadowed so strongly that it is hard to forget what we have been told will happen. As well as this, there is so much exposition and establishing of plot and characters that the film is a lot longer than it needed to be.
Marc Webb has made a well-paced film – even if it is the longest Spider-Man film to date at 142 minutes – where the set pieces and emotion are carefully balanced. The set pieces are striking and exhilarating, with many of New York’s most famous landmarks being thrown into the fray. The music by Johnny Marr, Pharrell Williams and Hans Zimmer complements the film wonderfully.
The Amazing Spider-Man 2 is a vast improvement on its predecessor; there is little doubt that the action packed set pieces and rounded characters will push the franchise in a new and exciting direction. The film is far too long, but just about gets away with it thanks to some good pacing and a nice balance between action and emotion. Foreshadowing and exposition take up too much time, but once the action kicks in, we are reminded of how great a character Spider-Man is, and how strong his stories really are.