Review: The Amazing Spider-Man 2 - Does Marc Webb Finally Get Spider-Man Right This Time?

It's hard to believe that it has already been two years since the release of The Amazing Spider-Man, the Marc Webb directed reboot of the franchise which starred Andrew Garfield (The Social Network) as its lead. While not everyone was pleased to hear that the Sam Raimi Spider-Man series was being rebooted, Webb and Sony hoped to win over skeptical and frustrated fans with their own unique take on the character. Although the finished product managed to establish a very distinct portrayal of Peter Parker and those around him, audiences and critics both argued that Webb still had yet to capture the real magic of the comics. Well with a much more comfortable cast and story this time around, Webb, Garfield, and the rest of the cast hope to finally give fans the proper interpretation of the webhead they've been waiting for. 

The Amazing Spider-Man 2 follows Peter Parker, as he's now grown into the hero we all know and love, living his life day to day as a part time vigilante. Things are going pretty well for Peter, as he has yet to confront any major threats since the previous film, his time in high school is quickly coming to an end, and his relationship with Gwen Stacey (Emma Stone) has blossomed. But this happiness doesn't last long for Peter, as he soon finds himself haunted by the death of Gwen's father and the promise he had made to him, and the return of old childhood friend Harry Osborn (Dane DeHaan) into his life doesn't exactly help the situation. 
Yet in the mean time we have Spider-Man fanatic Max Dillon; who's coincidentally a technician for OsCorp, who finds himself inspired by the wallcrawler after being saved by him once before. Though Max finds himself in a severe accident while working late hours, which leaves him transformed into a completely electricity fueled being. Donning the name Electro, Max soon finds himself at odds with the people of New York, and Spider-Man himself, which is just another distraction for the already struggling Peter Parker. With new founds secrets about his parents and Harry now coming to light, his relationship with Gwen at risk, and the impending threat of Electro constantly looming, Peter soon finds himself enthralled in a much larger picture than he, or anyone else, would've expected.
If there's one thing that you can say about this film that is for certain, it's that Andrew Garfield has now cemented himself as our new Spider-Man. While the actor did a pretty good job in the previous film, he seemed to be a little to focused on differentiating his character for Tobey Maguire's rather than doing his own thing with it. But in this film, not only does Garfield nail the transition of webcrawler to the big screen visually, but he also focuses much more on the playful side of the character. We also get some great scenes of Spidey interacting with the average civilians of New York, which really helps sell him as just an ordinary guy in a suit. Thankfully, at no point did his quips reach an over kill, and they definitely make for some much more fun fight scenes between villains that seem straight out of a panel of the comics. 
While for the most part the same could be said for Garfield's portrayal of alter ego Peter Parker, there are some minor gripes I had with this take on the character. For the most part, Garfield still nails the emotional side of Peter, as well as his struggle with the secrets of his parents and the death of his uncle. Yet, Garfield exchanging the nerdier and awkward side of Peter for a more confident approach, and although it makes sense in the context of the story, it doesn't really feel like the character of the comics. Emma Stone once again does a spectacular job as Gwen Stacy, giving us a love interest we truly care for, and her chemistry with Garfield is unparalleled by any other current superhero couple in film. The two play off each other great, it give us some really engaging character moments that make us feel even more connected the overall story.
Then we have Jamie Foxx as titular villain Electro, who ultimately makes for a pretty entertaining foe for Spider-Man to face. Yet much of the weaker moments of Foxx's performance lie in his portrayal of the pre-transformation Max Dillon, as he's awkward scenes and lines are a bit too cliche to be taken seriously at times. Foxx does a good job with what he had, and is ultimately able to make the character alter from a sympathetic supporting character into a merciless villain. Electro's powers are especially great, being that they're very reminiscent of the powers of characters Delsin and Cole of the inFAMOUS video game series. Webb and co. take full advantage of Electro's many powers, and go all out with some especially impressive fight sequences that're some of the most visually pleasing portions of the film.
The film's supporting cast does a decent job and the smaller roles they're given here, but ultimately aren't used to their full potential. Sally Field stands out as Aunt May, with some fantastically acted scenes between her and Peter sure to be a highlight of the film. Chris Cooper leaves a lasting impression with his take on Norman Osborn, although he too wasn't given the necessary screen time to show off his full talents. We also get memorable turns from Felicity Jones, B.J. Novak, and Colm Feore in minor supporting roles. And of course it's great to see Cambell Scott and Embeth Davidtz back in larger roles as Peter's parents. Now as for Paul Giamatti's take on Rhino, it much too over the top and comedic to be taken as a serious threat, yet for what its worth he seemed to have a lot of fun in the role and serves his purpose. 
But without a doubt, the strongest performance of this film comes to us courtesy of newcomer Dane DeHaan, who made a name for himself in fellow superhero film Chronicle (If you even want to call it a superhero film). This had always seemed like the strongest addition to the sequels cast, and boy did it pay off to cast him as Peter's childhood friend and Norman Osborn's son Harry. DeHaan really bring Harry to life from the moment he steps on screen, and make his friendship with Garfield's Peter seem very genuine and playful. But when it comes to for Harry to step on to the glider and become the Green Goblin, DeHaan certainly doesn't fail to give us an insane and bone-chilling version of the character. It's a shame he isn't in the movie for longer, because DeHaan's quick portrayal of the character is sure to be remembered. 
Despite the issues the film has with the character development of its villains, it's central faults lie with the film's story and pacing. A friend of mine put it best when he explained that the film's story lines could've been split and spread along the course of two films and both films would've been better than the final product of The Amazing Spider-Man 2. While the many threads that the writers tackled from the first film help to keep the story very interesting and meaningful, the juxtaposition of all these scenes make the viewer loose interest or even forget about the other things going on simultaneously in the film. This issue can especially attributed to the many connections Webb has in the film that will tie into Sinister Six, as well as the many unresolved plot threads of the first film regarding Peter's parents that are now finally explained.
In turn, these pacing issues had a direct issue on two of the film's primary villains; Electro and Green Goblin. Neither villain is really given their fair due here, which is a shame considering how interesting their characters were and how threatening they were opposite Spider-Man (Not to mention the fact the talents of Foxx and DeHaan where behind these characters). Electro's story arc is rushed to a conclusion after much build up, mainly to make room for the Goblin to make his debut. But as a result, Osborn's story arc and motivations also come off as rushed, along with his actual screen time suited up as the villain.
The film's score was something I was especially was interested in hearing, especially considering the collection of talent working on it. I think most people would agree that James Horner's score for the first film wasn't too impressive, and while he did compose a pretty nice main theme, the rest of the score was bland in comparison to Danny Elfman's astonishing work on the original Sam Raimi series. That being said, Hans Zimmer's score for this film along with his group the Magnificent Six is certainly interesting if not anything else. Some songs seem a little odd during the scenes they play in, but for the most part Zimmer finds a good balance between the fun and emotional scenes of the film which embody this film perfectly.
Having seen this film in 3D IMAX, I can honestly say this movie was very visually impressive, and worth the extra price of admission. Cinematographer Daniel Mindel does a terrific job and making this film all the more engaging, and helps the film fully give off the experience of being in the middle of the action. There are some truly stunning scenes of Spider-Man swinging through the sky that feel so real, down to the ripples in Spidey's suit. The special effects are certainly an upgrade from the previous film, and must less choppy. Electro is especially a spectacular villain to watch on screen, as the crew made sure that each scene involving him and the use of his many powers came off as sharp and visually impressive as possible.
Ultimately The Amazing Spider-Man 2 has a very strong and bold story to tell, and one that fans of the first film and Marc Webb and Andrew Garfield's take on the character have been waiting to see. Yet the film is still plagued by the issues the first film had, in regards to its focus on setting up for future films rather than wrapping up the story that is still at hand. Though with these criticisms aside, great character drama and performances, along with spectacular action sequences and visuals are sure to make this a fun time for any superhero fan, and hopefully an emotional journey along with the film's captivating characters.

I give The Amazing Spider-Man 2 3.5 out of 5 stars:
 So what did you think of The Amazing Spider-Man 2? Do you think Marc Webb as the series on the right track? Let us know below!