“The Amazing Spider-Man 2.” You’ve seen the TV spots, the epic trailers, the red and blue posters advertising one of Marvel’s most beloved comic book characters. You should have, at least, given the film’s estimated $150 million marketing budget.
This is Marc Webb’s third film as director, and, as implied by its title, is the sequel to 2012’s “The Amazing Spider-Man.” The film’s visual effects are its second best feature; without them there would be no movie. Moreover, first-person shots of the infamous webslinger let the viewer become Spider-Man, if only for a few seconds at a time. Yet the thing that makes the visual effects work is the plot that they support. Animation doesn’t elicit much anticipation or interest unless it is used to tell a story. The plot is less of a singular series of events and more of a web (no pun intended) of interweaving storylines that affect each other in a domino-like fashion, leading up to a fast-paced climax.
“The Amazing Spider-Man 2” belongs to Emma Stone and Andrew Garfield, whose intimate chemistry and quirky likeness remind the viewer that this isn’t just an action movie. Avid fans of the first film will be pleased with Garfield’s continued interpretation of the 70-year-old comic book character. Garfield gives his double-sided character a particular “trickster” quality, as Webb puts it, which shines a comedic light on an otherwise action-packed, dramatic story. Unsurprisingly, this sequel picks up where its predecessor left off, as Peter Parker must grapple with the tragic events that occurred in the first movie, after which he promised to stay away from Gwen in order to prevent any of Spider-Man’s potential adversaries from harming her.
Speaking of villains, Dane Dehann plays the role of Harry Osborn, Peter’s childhood friend who went off to boarding school 10 years prior. Yet Harry’s return is the catalyst that sets up the film’s climactic fight sequence, which sees a medically ravaged Harry clad in an exoskeleton suit, perched atop a military-grade glider as he encompasses the role of Spider-Man’s most famous adversary, the Green Goblin. Additionally, Jamie Foxx’s portrayal of Max Dillon/Electro is well-played, as Foxx handles the personality of the villain, while the visual effects depict Electro’s abilities, such as being able to hover, suck himself into wall sockets and evaporate into raw electricity. If two villains weren’t enough for you, then you’ll be glad to see Paul Giammati make his limited appearance as a Russian mobster who dons a rather comical suit of Rhinoceros-shaped armor.
The professional critics say this movie is overcrowded, that there are too many new characters and subplots, and that everything moves too quickly to be absorbed. But I think those are the film’s selling points, because they make this sequel less of a stereotypical action movie and more of a comic book movie. Despite its 2½-hour duration, you’ll be left on the edge of your seat wanting to know what happens next, as the climactic events of “The Amazing Spider-Man 2” set the stage for yet another sequel, due in June 2016. The film’s score features original songs by Pharrell Williams, Hans Zimmer, Alicia Keys and others. And yes, Marvel movie fans, Stan Lee, the creator of Spider-Man, makes his traditional cameo appearance.
Kyle Sims is a senior at Amherst High School.