Wow, it's been awhile since I've done this, I hope I still remember what I'm doing. I figured I'd start with a superhero film and what could almost be considered the least looked forward to hero flick of the year. The Amazing Spider-Man is a movie that I liked. I realize it has flaws, what superhero film doesn't, but it didn't keep it from being a solid start to the reboot of a franchise a lot of us watched growing up. Well, at least I did. The Amazing Spider-Man 2 mostly brings back the same cast from the first movie and from the trailers I expected a CGI crap-shoot. That Sony had just thrown together a sequel to further a movie deal to the most anticipated part of the series rumored to happen. While it's crammed with CGI, some forced humor and it kinda felt long, The Amazing Spider-Man 2 isn't all that bad.
The Amazing Spider-Man 2 follows the story of Peter Parker/Spider-Man (Andrew Garfield) as he grows to be the heroic vigilante New York City is divided over. To open the film we are shown Richard and Mary Parker as they are on a plane, after the events of the first film, where they are shown leaving Peter with his Aunt and Uncle. An assassin attempts to take out the plane and eventually succeeds, killing all aboard. Fast forward to present day as Spider-Man is chasing down a group of Russian thugs, led by Aleksei Sytsevich/Rhino (Paul Giamatti) who have stolen a truckload of plutonium from Oscorp. Peter is ignoring his high-school graduation as he tries to stop the thieves. During the chase he saves a man by the name of Max Dillion (Jamie Foxx), an employee of Oscop. By saving his life, Max becomes enamored with Spider-Man and begins to idolize him. Later on in the chase, Gwen Stacy (Emma Stone) calls Peter and tells him to get to the graduation asap, causing him to turn it on and end the chase. Alekisei swears he will get the spider and Peter makes it to graduation on time. Peter then sees George Stacy (Dennis Leary) and remembered the promise he made him in the first film. Feeling guilt ridden, Peter and Gwen break up and he begins to solely focus being Spider-Man. While all this is going on, Harry Osborne (Dane DeHann) is called to his father's bedside. Norman (Chris Cooper) tells him, that the disease he's dying from is hereditary and tells him he's wasted so much potential. That night, at Oscorp, Max is forced to work late on his birthday to repair some things. As he is finishing up, he gets electrocuted and falls into a tank of genetically modified eels, effectively turning him into Electro. Peter must repair a strained relationship and rekindle an old friendship, all while protecting NYC from a new crop of baddies that only want to bring havoc and destruction.
This film suffers from the things most superhero films suffer from, taking a star-studded cast and them actually translating the the story to screen effortlessly. Andrew Garfield is totally fine as Spider-Man/Peter Parker and actually is one of the better points of the film, but it just felt like everyone else seemed off. Emma Stone as Gwen was fine, but I became bored with her pithy one-liners in almost all the scenes she was in. I kinda mentioned this about Kat Dennings in my Thor 2 review. You don't just throw in bad comedy cause you have a comedic lead, it just doesn't work sometimes. On the other side of the acting spectrum, from the trailers and previews I thought I was gonna hate Dane DeHamm and Jamie Foxx, as Electro and Harry Osborne respectively. I thought they did an okay job. To watch Foxx transform from mild-mannered and walked over Max into the super-villain Elcectro was fun. The relationship between the returned Harry and Peter throughout was a okay as well. I'd never seen Dane DeHamm before this, but at the very least, as Harry Osborne, he carried himself well. Neither blew me away, but they were far better than I thought they'd be going into this.The the veterans were good support. Sally Field is still good as Aunt May. Chris Cooper is always nice to see and Norman's character fits his acting style well. While Dennis Leary provides a Dennis Leary presence, despite his very limited screen-time. My other grips are what I actually mentioned before. Like the first film, I felt like this was too long and dragged in a lot of places. The overuse of CGI wasn't as bad as I thought it'd be. It just keeps reaffirming that superhero movies are gonna overdo it on CGI for almost no reason. Also the humor, while good in some spots, Spider-Man joking with baddies and even Max idolizing Spider-Man, is atrocious in other spots when they force feed them a corny one-liner. Everything I just talked about all just felt, well, only okay.
Never fear though, there was actually a lot I liked about the film. Despite said overuse of the CGI, in some spots it was actually pretty cool and looked good. The opening scene with Spidey swinging around NYC was fun and the scenes involving Electro and his electricity are pretty solid too. Foxx's CGI as Electro was still a little wonky, but that's hardly the worst the CGI looked in this film. The action was also fun, the finale fight was great and I've always loved Spider-Man's mannerisms and fighting style. Going hand in hand with the CGI, the overall look of the film was good as well. I love cinematography and the sweeping shots of NYC at various points of the day, throughout the film, looked pretty good. I actually enjoyed the story as well. Sure at parts it was written kinda bad, but the overall feel, character dialogue, character/story development and even the ending was done well. You watch as these guys, grow and transform in the film, both towards good, towards evil or even just understanding themselves better. I like that kinda stuff in a genre not known from giving much character development at all. You could also call it a tale of two halves, cause the second half of the film really does make up for the first. They could've done way worse with a bridging sequel leading to the third installment in a trilogy, so props to the writing team for not just phoning it in. Marc Webb did fine directing it, just like with the first one, just stop using those stupid camera tilted angles. I hate those so much. The music was alright as well. Hanz Zimmer has done good work for big movies and this film is no different. Without making everything too over dramatic, or something of the sort, the music flows with the movie well. Keeping the comic characters close to what I remember them from the comics is always a plus as well. This film really had a "I'm reading a comic book they put on a screen." I loved that.
The Amazing Spider-Man 2 is a film that furthers the first film in the series but didn't really improve on anything from the first. Everything got bigger, it never really got better, but luckily it didn't get worse either. The acting was mostly fine, the story was good and for the most part it looked and sounded good throughout. The drawbacks are certainly its length, the over abundance of CGI and the other side of "the acting was mostly fine." This was a fun watch. The action was cool, the humor, when it was good, is solid and it's everything you could want in a super-hero film. I'm highly looking forward to see if they can end this trilogy well with the Sinister Six stuff, always loved that baddie group growing up.