When one thinks of super hero movies the first thing that comes to mind is not love stories. That’s the province of “chick flicks”, the antithesis of action movies geared towards male teens. And yet “The Amazing Spider-Man 2” dives head first into the depth of the relationship between Peter Parker and Gwen Stacy. The action that ensues throughout the story becomes superfluous, almost an aforethought. At the core of “The Amazing Spider-Man 2”, Peter and Gwen’s love for one another elevates the stakes for Spider-Man more than any super villain could possibly muster. Fear not though Spidey fans, the latest iteration of Spider-Man to hit the big screen may arguably turn out to be the best one yet.
How’s the story?
Andrew Garfield and Emma Stone have grown into their roles as Peter Parker and Gwen Stacy, respectively. The depth of their relationship jumps off the screen and pulls the audience in. Unlike the previous Spider-Man movies starring Tobey Maguire and Kiresten Dunst, nothing feels contrived in order move the plot along. Whenever Gwen finds herself in a precarious situation you can sense the desperation of Spider-Man to rescue her at all costs which in turn evokes a palpable emotional response from the audience. We care and that’s a product of the much desired but often elusive great chemistry on screen.
As for the villains in “The Amazing Spider-Man 2”, therein lies the weakness of the narrative. Jaime Foxx plays the role of Max Dillon/Electro. Other than being a part of the lucrative Spider-Man franchise, the part as written provides very few opportunities for Mr. Foxx to flex his Academy Award winning acting muscles. Max Dillon, the alienated everyman, comes across as a cardboard caricature better suited for a comedy skit than a dramatic role. In Mr. Foxx’s portrayal of Electro, he growls and grimaces a lot but doesn’t register as particularly menacing. There’s also a moment when he randomly appears in a custom fitting Electro costume which includes lightning bolt designs on the shoulders. Mind you, he didn’t make the suit himself. OsCorp must have a secret costume design shop hidden away which produces costumes for villains just in case they’re needed.
Harry Osborne/Green Goblin played by Dane DeHaan has a more developed character to play with and he makes the most of it. In a sense, his storyline an origin tale for the Green Goblin as well as a set up for future villain introductions.
Paul Giamatti playing Aleksei Sytsevich/Rhino is given limited screen time but shines nonetheless. Hopefully he’ll have a larger role in the next sequel.
How are the special effects?
Outstanding. Spider-Man has become fully realized for the big screen. One no longer needs to suspend their disbelief when viewing a movie about Spider-Man. The action looks real and yes, amazing.
The movie has a rating of PG-13. Can I take my kids to see it?
Although action packed with plenty of fight scenes the overall tone is lighter than the gritty intensity of “Captain America: The Winter Soldier”. Still, the movie can be intense at times. I’d recommend the movie for kids 10 and up if they’ve already been exposed to cartoon level violence.
Any ideal times in the movie for bathroom breaks?
Surprisingly few. Although the movie runs a little over 2 hours it’s fast paced. Perhaps right after the high school graduation ceremony scene.
Overall Rating: B+
Recommended for kids 13 and up.
Pros: Fantastic chemistry between the lead actors elevates the story. Amazing special effects. Spider-Man has never looked better.
Cons: Weak character development for Max Dillon/Electro. Paul Giamatti gets minimal screen time.