Movie review: ‘Amazing Spider-Man 2’ kicks off summer blockbuster season

By Ashley Bergner
Box Office Buzz

601420 KS_New_spideyThe cost of being a superhero — and saving the lives of others — often involves giving up having a life of your own. The world’s problems will always intrude into your personal life; how can you not stop and intervene in dangerous situations, especially when people’s lives are on the line? It’s also impossible to have normal relationships, because you’ll always have to worry about your loved ones getting caught in the crossfire.

That’s the dilemma Peter Parker finds himself in throughout “The Amazing Spider-Man 2,” the follow-up to the 2012 Spider-Man reboot. He’s gotten pretty good at being Spider-Man: swinging in to save the day, always ready with a quick quip. However, he’s not so good at trying to be Peter Parker at the same time. He’s haunted by his promise to the father of his girlfriend, Gwen Stacy. Although he promised he would break up with her, for her own safety, he can’t bear to stay away from her for long.

The return of his childhood friend Harry Osborn brings more problems. Harry is dying from the same disease that killed his father Norman Osborn, head of OsCorp Industries. Harry is convinced his father’s research can save his life, even though some of those experiments are morally questionable. One of the experiments also gives rise to a new super-villain, the electricity-manipulating “Electro,” who uses his new powers to unleash years of pent-up anger on the city. Spider-Man will have to save the city from these new threats, but he might not be able to save everyone he loves.

The 2012 Spider-Man reboot — starring Andrew Garfield and Emma Stone as Spider-Man and Gwen Stacy — proved to be somewhat polarizing among fans. I know people who will only watch the original Sam Raimi version, and some who prefer the reboot. I’m in the middle: I love Raimi’s “Spider-Man” films, but I enjoyed the reboot as well, especially the chemistry between Garfield and Stone (it’s no surprise they’re a couple in real life). While the new film probably won’t win over those who didn’t like the first reboot movie, for fans this is a fun summer comic book movie with a surprisingly heartbreaking ending.

Although Andrew Garfield is actually 30, he does a good job portraying Peter Parker as an adorably awkward teenager, and Emma Stone proves to be the perfect foil, her eyes sparkling every time they are together on screen. I enjoyed the humor and more lighthearted tone in the movie, which I understand is closer to the original comics. One of the frequent comments I’ve heard about the movie is that it actually feels like watching a comic book.

While I really liked the special effects used to bring Electro’s (Jamie Foxx) powers to life (bright bolts of electricity arc across the screen), my favorite of the new villains was the Green Goblin. Dane DeHaan plays Harry Osborn/Green Goblin as a sort of psychotic James Dean, a dangerous rage hiding behind that cool and collected expression. I wish DeHaan had been given even more screen time to develop the character, but I assume he will be back in the next sequel.

The critics are split on the film, and one of the criticisms has been there is almost too much going on in the movie: the mystery surrounding the Parker family’s past, Peter’s relationship with Gwen, the questionable experiments at OsCorp Industries, and two main villains (Paul Giamatti’s “Rhino” only appears briefly and is really more of a cameo). While the script isn’t as tight as the story in “Captain America: The Winter Solider” and doesn’t pack quite the same narrative punch, I think film makers did a pretty good job connecting the story lines of Electro and Green Goblin.

I was also surprised by the ending of the film. *Major spoiler ahead!* Although I haven’t read the Spider-Man comic books, I heard fans speculating that the new film might follow the comic story line and kill Gwen Stacy. I didn’t think the film would actually follow through with it, and her loss is heartbreaking, especially since Peter comes so close to saving her. It’s gutsy to kill off a main character like that in a summer comic book film, especially when Peter and Gwen’s chemistry is one of the best things about the franchise. It will be interesting to see how Peter copes with this loss in the next movie or if we’ll actually get to see Shailene Woodley’s portrayal of Mary Jane, who was cut from this film.

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