Over the weekend, my husband and I went to see a matinee of Amazing Spider-Man 2.
I LOVED the first Amazing Spider-Man, though I don’t like the early Tobey Maguire Spiderman movies as much as my husband does.
I was excited to see more Andrew Garfield because I think he’s perfect for the part – wiry, nerdy, and full of witty cracks that fit with the original cannon.
I had so much fun watching it and discussing it with my husband that I thought I’d write a review about it today.
A Quick Overview of the Movie
I’ll try to keep it spoiler free.
The first Amazing Spider-Man movie had more of a clear cut plot – Peter Parker has to learn to adapt to his new found abilities, look for his uncle’s killer, and eventually defeat the super villain – like a typical superhero origin story.
The second Amazing Spider-Man movie is not nearly as clear cut when it comes to the story line. He’s fully fledged Spider-man now, so he doesn’t need to develop his powers any more.
Instead, most of the movie involves Peter’s reactions to events that are going on around him. Like a typical super hero movie, Spider-man has to fight the bad guys to keep the people and the city he loves safe.
But, unlike the first movie, the “bad guys” aren’t even as clear as the first movie. Of course, we see the obvious baddies like the Rhino, Electro, and the Green Goblin – but they are just branches to the Oscorp tree that’s putting out its roots. This sequel is so focused on establishing future encounters (the Sinister Six are suppose to make an appearance in the next movie) and explaining more past events (such as Peter’s father’s disappearance) that the actual plot falls to the wayside.
This doesn’t make it a bad movie, per se, but it does make it difficult to determine what path the movie is taking as it swings along.
If you’re willing to just follow Peter along in his adventures as Spider-man, then it’s fun to see what happens. But, if you’re expecting a full-out emotional/physical/mental development over a period of time due to a consistent story arc, then you might start to wonder where the movie is going.
How Does It Compare to the First Movie?
In terms of plot and character development, the first movie is better.
However, I enjoyed the second movie even more than the first for several reasons.
First, there’s more emotional attachment to the characters. All the positive feelings associated with Peter Parker, Gwen Stacy, Aunt May, and others were already established in the first movie – so by the time second movie rolls around, it’s already easy to like the characters, know their personalities, and enjoy following them around. The second movie builds on relationships already developed, so when something positive or negative happens to these characters, it has a greater impact.
When Gwen Stacy dies, I pretty much fell apart even though I knew it was going to happen. Gwen’s death is supposed to be the greatest tragedy in Spider-man history, and the movie definitely lives up to that. He comes within nanoseconds of saving her, only to lose her. Her death felt more heartbreaking than Peter’s Uncle Ben because we see their relationship and the effects it has on Peter.
Second, the action is better choreographed. We see more of Spider-man’s spider sense – there are several scenes where time stops and you can see exactly what Spider-man needs to do to save the day. This is good because once time picks up again so many things happen at once that you might miss it if you blink.
The fight scenes have a lot more dodging, so we get to see how graceful (sounds funny, I know) Spider-man is even when he’s slinging webs and catching crooks. In the first movie, Peter is still learning to be Spider-man, so some of his fighting is more awkward and clumsy. In the new movie, he’s faster and smarter with how he approaches a situation.
Third, I liked his new theme song (I’ll link to it when it’s available). The first movie had a LOT of great singles from popular artists. I loved the songs; they were a great choice for the situation. But, I feel like every super hero needs a theme. Nothing quite compares to the chills you get when John Williams’ Superman Theme comes on as Superman takes flight. Even the new Batman has a theme – Hans Zimmer’s deep, dark brooding rhythms fit our nighttime super hero perfectly. The first Amazing Spider-Man movie lacked that old-school classic super hero theme, and I think this second one fixed that problem.
My Issues With the Movie
I LOVED this movie. However, just because I loved it didn’t mean it was a perfect film experience or ideal portrayal of Spider-man. It did have a few flaws that may be a deal breaker for you if you’re picky about movies.
My biggest issue was Dane DeHaan as Harry Osborne/Green Goblin. Dane DeHaan is an excellent actor – his part in Chronicle was incredibly convincing.
But, his part in Spider-man left a lot to be desired.
I’m not sure whether to blame the writers, the directors, or Dane DeHaan himself, but his character felt emotionally detached. For someone who’s diseased, who saw his father die, and who is running an enormous company, Harry Osborn felt flat and colorless. While Peter Parker and Harry Osborne were supposed to be friends, and we see them hanging out briefly, they don’t send off a lot of “friend vibes”, so to speak.
Also, his transformation into the Green Goblin felt rushed. I would have liked to see him develop more as he ran the company, or hang out with Peter more so he feels more like a best bud, then gradually become more moody, more angsty, and more insane as the pressures of running the business or finding a cure eventually cause him to crack. I wouldn’t have minded if the Green Goblin had been saved until the third movie to give him that time – after all, Electro was doing a pretty good job at keeping Spidey busy!
If there’s one thing the Tobey Maguire Spider-man did right, it was James Franco as Harry Osborne. He had the right balance of friendship with Peter, angst against being rejected by his father, and an innate desire to please his father despite being rejected. In the first movie, Harry could be friends with Peter, by the second movie that friendship was strained due to his father’s death, and by the third movie his transformation to Green Goblin was complete. Of course, the third movie was completely botched, but the initial development and change in Harry Osborne’s character was sound in the first two movies.
My second issue with the movie isn’t that big, but it is still an issue. I can’t figure out, for the life of me, why the movie insisted on having mad scientist Dr. Kafka. With his weird spiky hair, cliche German accent, and oddly shaped mouth, Dr. Kafka seemed like he popped out of the wrong movie. I’m not sure if he was supposed to be a placeholder for a character similar to Captain America’s Arnim Zola, or if he’s suppose to play a bigger role in the movies at some other time – but his whole scene felt off. (In the comics, Dr. Kafka was a female psychologist who worked for Ravencroft institute and treated the criminally insane – not tortured them.) It made Ravencroft look like a joke rather than a hardcore institute run by Oscorp.
Was the 3D Worth It?
I’m pretty flexible when it comes to watching a movie in 3D. We have a 3D at home and enjoy watching 3D movies all the time. However, I also understand that 3D movies are more expensive, especially if you see it in theaters.
The first Amazing Spider-man movie had OK 3D. There were a few scenes with the webs shooting in your face, but I felt that the 3D didn’t add a lot to the movie, which is sad because I also feel that it was a missed opportunity.
The second movie, though, is AMAZING in 3D. As always, you’ll still get a lot out of the movie if you watch it in regular 2D, but I think the 3D in this movie added a lot more depth. When Spider-man is swinging around New York, it almost feels like a roller coaster ride because of how massive it looks with the 3D. Additionally, bits of shrapnel fly past your face in the film, which makes it feel like you’re right in there with the action.
There’s nothing too outrageous with the 3D though, so you’re not distracted with things in your face when you’re trying to watch the rest of the movie. And, you don’t get that crazy motion-sickness feeling you get with really bad 3D movies.
It feels like a pretty good balance of 3D to me, so if you’re into 3D as much as I am, then you might want to spend the extra money to check it out.
My Overall Experience
Despite its flaws, Amazing Spider-man is a must see. I laughed, I cried, and I gasped – all at appropriate times, of course.
It’s a great addition to the Spider-man films, and I liked it more than the first Amazing Spider-man, and infinitely more than the Tobey Maguire Spider-man movies.
I know the movie has some poor ratings on review sites like Rotten Tomatoes, but everyone I’ve talked to who’s seen the movie also agreed with me that they liked it overall. It’s not perfect by any means, but it’s a fun super hero movie for the family, so don’t pass it up!
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