By Charly SHELTON
In 2012, the world was introduced to Andrew Garfield as Peter Parker, the Amazing Spider-Man. Coming off of a three-movie run with interesting-as-Elmer’s Paste Toby Maguire as Peter Parker, it is this reviewer’s opinion that anyone would have been an improvement in the title role. But now, with the honeymoon phase wearing off, great things are expected from Garfield and the rest of the returning cast and crew of ASM. It is their time to shine and prove that they can carry a franchise – not just be a one-off movie.
In the 2012 film, the story covered Spider-Man’s creation, the Lizard’s creation and destruction, and the death of Captain Stacy. That’s a lot for a first endeavor. The second installment of the franchise presents Electro, Green Goblin and Rhino as villains, introduces Norman and Harry Osborn, delves more into the past of Peter’s parents, and deals with some heavy aspects of the Spider-Man story that I can’t mention in a review. That’s a jam-packed movie. In addition, they tease the pants off of the next movie, “Sinister Six.” Seriously, they give away five of the six in the credits. With movies as packed as this, ASM 3 will probably cover everything that happens in issues 300-650 of the comic.
Without giving too much away because the plot unfolds in such a way that one event causes another and mentioning one reveals too much, I can say this: Spider-Man is growing up. His girlfriend Gwen Stacy (Emma Stone) is super supportive of him as a person and a super hero. But Peter promised her father as he was dying that he would stay away from her to keep her safe. He is wracked with guilt, which is the trademark with Spidey in every incarnation of the character.
Meanwhile, mild mannered electrical engineer Max Dillon (Jamie Foxx) is in a terrible accident that turns him into a being of living electricity, Electro, where I guess he kind of loses his mind. It really isn’t mentioned; he just seems to be a very simple character and after the accident he wants to be needed and is angry.
Peter breaks up with Gwen to keep her safe, but is pining for her anyway and this causes drama that occupies a good portion of the film. It is difficult to say too much more than this because the events are so closely linked that spoilers are inevitable.
The biggest problem with this movie is the quality of special effects. Electro looks like he was pulled directly from a video game. When he stands still, the effect that is overlaid onto Jamie Foxx is really cool and well done – sub dermal electricity firing in his veins. But when they show whole body Electro in a chase scene or any effects shot of him transforming to or from electricity (anything where Foxx is not present and a digital model is used), looks absolutely awful. The Green Goblin effects aren’t great; the cartoony look of Spidey flying around looks rubbery – it’s just a mess.
But if you can suspend your disbelief and just accept the effects, the movie is pretty good. Not the best super hero movie ever, but enjoyable. A lot of film critics hated this movie with a fiery passion, as did my dad who went to the movie with me. But after last weekend’s Free Comic Book Day and hearing some nerds talk about how much they enjoyed it, I have come to a revelation.
This is a comic book movie, not a movie based on a comic book. Let me explain the difference. I read comic books every day. I love the medium and the way in which the stories are told. They are ridiculous and over-the-top and awesome. For frame of reference, the Amazing Spider-Man comic book relaunched last week after more than a year of being Superior Spider-Man, where arch nemesis Doctor Octopus took over Peter Parker’s body and swapped minds with him. Then the Green Goblin army took over New York and Doc Ock had to erase his consciousness out of Peter’s mindscape so the real Spidey could save the day. That would never work on screen – it’s too comic book-y. Most film critics are just film critics who don’t necessarily know much about comics. So when they see a movie like “Captain America: The Winter Soldier,” they love it because it is a well-made movie. That is a movie based (loosely) on a comic book, and personally I didn’t like it. If it was a comic book movie, the final showdown would have been Cap and Winter Soldier teaming up against a giant robot that the Red Skull buried under the Washington monument. That is comic book fodder.
ASM 2 is too weird and over-the-top to be counted as anything but a comic book movie. Comic book fans seem to enjoy this movie because it is just like something you would read in a comic. We are used to the awesome and outlandish stories, so to see it on a big screen is even cooler.
Whether you are a comic book movie fan or a movie based on comics fan, “Amazing Spider-Man 2” is worth a watch. And see it in IMAX. I usually don’t spring for the extras like 3D or large format, but this one is pretty cool on a bigger screen. Rated PG-13, I give this movie 4 out of 5 stars.