Peter Parker finds that a greater conflict lies ahead for person and secret life as OSCORP spawns a slew of supervillains against him.
I love Sam Raimi…I love the Raimi era Spidey movies and with the exception of the last film in his series, I prefer that world to director Marc Webb’s version. Heck, it’s even interestingly gratifying how much this new film borrows some ideas from the Raimi tone and cadence. That said, however, I’d be dishonest if I couldn’t admit there aren’t a ton of things to absolutely adore about Webb’s own take. Chief among those is the Gwen Stacy + Peter Parker relationship. I feel a little like the character of Oscar in episode 3 of Quantum Leap. Often times romance is not something I want to admit exists, but Webb makes it the driving force for the films…and I like it.
This pivotal relationship that I didn’t care for in the comics (I’m partial to Felicia Hardy myself — except when J Scott Campbell draws MJ then all bets are off), but I’m somehow completely invested here. It’s important for the two characters to gel with each other and even more importantly to endear themselves to the audience because the moment comic fans have been anticipating happens in this film and for those unfamiliar, actually scratch that, for anyone whether you know it’s coming or not, you’ll be affected when the moment happens…and it works. It works because of the build up that’s been happening since the first movie. Emma Stone who I haven’t liked in anything other than this series has hooked me with her version of Gwen Stacy and I’m smitten. Over these films I’ve grown to understand why other readers cared for her (Gwen) in the books and now I’m sold. I care so much that the introduction of Felicia Hardy to this universe matters not one iota. I saw her and I didn’t care. That might change when I see her in costume (if you know what I mean), but I digress. Marc Webb cast a great pair of actors and hinged the entire emotional through of the series on them. So much so that despite what the trailers suggest to you, you’ll be surprised to find just how little action there is in the actual film.
Bate and Switch
That’s right, there isn’t as much “action” as the trailers imply. The film is largely about the ins and outs of the Gwen Stacy and Peter Parker relationship. We probably spend 2/3rds of the film with them in one way or another and the big battles highlighted in the trailers are really in the last what feels like 15 minutes of the film. Of course there are sequences of Spidey catching bad guys throughout the film, but when you stop to analyze what you see you’ll realize that very little of it is indicative of what you expected. The action is fantastic mind you, but not at all the overbearing noise you were expecting from the trailer. The main villain is Electro with a few moments from Hobgoblin, but don’t expect more than 2 minutes of Rhino in this. Expect Lots of Parker>Aunt May, Parker>Gwen, Parker>Dead People, Parker>anyone but super-villains. Amazing Spider-man 2 is 90% character build up to the shoe drop. It’s a fun ride to the drop, but it’s heavily leaned toward character development over theatrics.
But It’s Still Amazing..Really
Now, before you panic and decide it’s not worth watching because there isn’t enough action, that’s not strictly speaking accurate. There’s more than enough fantastic web slinging and Spidey/Parker antics to keep you pumped for 2 hours. Webb hasn’t forgotten this is a comicbook movie so, there’s plenty of popcorn fun and insider Easter eggs to keep you busy. Great care has been placed on the choreography for each and every spider-man sequence. Every scene is unique and inspired and funny and authentically Spidey. In much the same way this years Winter Soldier took Captain America’s shield throwing and fisticuffs to new heights, the Webb team takes Spider-man’s web slinging, crawling, and goon avoidance to a level yet seen. It’s worth the price of admission regardless of its percentage of the overall film. There just isn’t as much as you’ve been over-hyped for.
The Great Disappointment..Sort of..Not Really
So, all of that to say I enjoyed and recommend the film, but also to say that it’s not perfect. It’s not going to be definitive for everyone so keep your head about you before you enter the theater. If you know what you’re getting into then you’ll enjoy this immensely, if you go in expecting a massive super villain gang brawl you’re not getting one, but Amazing Spider-man 2 arguably holds its own for top spot of the best web slinger film put to screen.
The Peter Parker and Gwen Stacy relationship is the heart and soul of the series and the filmmaking team wisely (courageously?) gave that pairing the bulk of the runtime.
B+ grade for storytelling
A- grade for direction
A grade for action
A grade for acting
Overall grade of B+ for great character development, original action choreography, and a film worthy of the source material.