Honestly, my expectations for the The Amazing Spider-Man 2 were pretty mixed. On one hand, I enjoyed the first a good deal and this one seems like it'll embrace more of a "popcorn fun" vibe. But on the other hand, it's trying to juggle a lot of material, so it's understandable that would generate some concern. While this does become a bit of an issue, it by no means ruins the overall experience. So no, this isn't another Spider-Man 3.
If you enjoyed the awkward and adorable chemistry between Andrew Garfield and Emma Stone in the first movie, then you'll be happy to know there's plenty more of it in this one. They share some legitimately charming moments and a lot of them made me crack a goofy smile or laugh out loud. You can't help but want to root for them, you know? But it's not just the lovable scenes they sell, either. Both are able to deliver in every scene, even if their dialogue may feel a little odd once or twice. Seeing as this movie also deals with Peter Parker trying to cope with the promise he made to Captain Stacy (no idea what I'm talking about? Watch the first movie), there's a major spotlight shined on the problems with their relationship. Sure, some of this may feel a little cheesy or silly for some, but I found myself really enjoying the focus on their situation and that's obviously due to their undeniable chemistry. Not only that, but it's interesting to see where they both stand on these issues and what it ultimately means for them. Like I said above, I love the connection these two characters have and this sequel does a great job bringing that front and center.
The action with Spider-Man's a blast. It's a bit disappointing they used so many good bits in the trailers, but honestly, watching it all unfold on the big screen was still hugely enjoyable and a real visual treat. What I really enjoyed were the little moments that highlighted Peter's spider sense. Yes, slow motion tends to be overused in some movies, but in this one, it's reserved for just the right spots and allows you to truly appreciate how Spidey's able to tackle some obstacles. Additionally, this movie goes above and beyond to present Spider-Man as a symbol of hope. When it comes to him saving people -- be it someone in the way of a deadly crash or a kid getting bullied -- there's plenty of Spidey proving he strives to be a true hero. Oh, and the scenes of Spider-Man swinging throughout the city? Pure eye candy and my only complaint about that is that I wish there was more of it! Director Marc Webb managed to incorporate some pretty clever shots in there, so it never became a dull experience and remained exciting as Spider-Man soared over New York's crowded streets.
So, how are Dane DeHaan and Jamie Foxx, you ask? Well, he may not be the deepest character around, but Foxx's Electro certainly is an entertaining one. He goes from feeling powerless and ignored to powerful and betrayed, so naturally, he wants to make everyone else suffer just like he did. Foxx is a talented dude, so it should come as no surprise he plays both sides very well. Personally, I would have loved to see his character get a little more attention, but it is what it is. As for DeHaan, I think he does a commendable job with the material he's given. He may not feel like the "Apex Goblin" (you're welcome, Chronicle fans), but I think he's a thoroughly engaging actor. The supporting cast is solid, too. Sally Field gets a little more focus this time around (rightfully so!), and she has one moment that will definitely hook onto your emotions. Paul Giamatti doesn't get much screentime, but the little he does have is absolutely enthralling. I couldn't help but chuckle as he made a certain exclamation later on in the movie. It's totally silly, but as a fan of his character, I loved it.
As expected, The Amazing Spider-Man 2 has a good amount of fan service and takes some steps to establish the universe's future. There's quite a few name-drops and, even though we already know the path Sony will take with this franchise, it was still pretty satisfying to witness little hints about what lies ahead. There's at least one character introduced that makes me wonder if they'll play a major role in the next one. Sadly, my screening did not have a credits scene. Bummer, right?
The movie has its fair share of emotional moments, but there's one that really delivers. Some of you may see it coming, but it won't matter because this scene is executed incredibly well. Seriously, it's guaranteed to have your undivided attention and, even if you know what's coming, will likely have your jaw dropped.
One small issue the first movie had was Peter taking off his mask an unnecessary amount of times and far too many people learning about his identity. Thankfully, that's not the case this time around. In fact, there was only one moment where I wanted to say, "PUT ON THE MASK, MAN! PEOPLE HAVE HIGH QUALITY CAMERAS NOWADAYS!" but honestly, it worked for the bit so it's really not that big of a deal.
While I did enjoy the finale with Electro, they unfortunately decided to add an extra element to it -- one that takes place a good deal away from the two main characters. The goal was to give extra weight to the scenario and make it feel more dire, but instead this felt totally generic and took away from the more compelling material (aka Spider-Man vs. Electro). I know why this was added, but honestly, it felt totally unnecessary and added one of those generic countdowns to the scene.
I can usually tolerate shaky camera work, but it was virtually unbearable during a brawl in the opening scene. Even when it would momentarily cut away from the action, it felt like the camera was being held during an earthquake. Thankfully, this isn't an issue for the rest of the movie, but if you're seeing it on IMAX, prepare for some visually frustrating shots in the beginning.
The Amazing Spider-Man 2 juggles quite a few different stories, and while the material with Harry Osborn is good, the transition to Green Goblin and what happens next feels a little rushed. I mean, I totally understand why they make him put on the armor and hop on the glider, and how his battle concludes is great, but Harry becoming the "final boss" felt awkwardly put in there and his appearance just feels very conveniently timed. Don't get me wrong: this duo has a more organic connection than the villains in Spider-Man 3, but you can tell the film has a little more on its plate than it needs. And don't worry, Rhino isn't crammed into the mix, either. His role really is minimal and, if anything, helps tease the movie universe's future. Really, don't go in expecting some big brawl with the brute or else you'll be disappointed. Lastly, the doctor working in Ravencroft came off as way too silly and ended up feeling more like a distraction. If this character was toned down a bit, those scenes could have felt more gripping and impactful.
Sure, The Amazing Spider-Man 2 feels a little bloated, but it makes up for that with some very fun sequences, strong humor, solid performances, and some legitimately emotional developments. Basically, it's a popcorn flick with a whole lot of heart. All in all, I had a really good time with Webb's second Spider-Man movie and I'm definitely excited to see what they'll hit us with next.