EDITOR’S NOTE: With the opening of “Amazing Spider-Man 2,” Comic Riffs contributor David Betancourt is focusing on facets of Spidey’s world. Today, we offer a fanboy’s review of the new film.
AFTER EVERYTHING I’d read about “Amazing Spider-Man 2,” and had seen in the trailers, I was convinced that too much would be going on in the new Marc Webb/Andrew Garfield outing, and that the film would suffer because of it.
Sony/Columbia decided they want to expand and connect Spider-Man’s universe in the same way Marvel Studios has successfully done with their movies. They want to make a Sinister Six movie. So in “Amazing Spider-Man 2,” we get *three* potential villainous members (Green Goblin, Electro and Rhino). Multiple baddies isn’t always a good thing in a comic book movie. Somehow, though, this villain-crowding manages not to destroy the movie.
There were other concerns: Would this movie feel as forced as “The Amazing Spider-Man”? Answer: Surprisingly, no.
This film certainly has flaws, but it should be considered one of the best.
Here are Comic Riffs’s Five Takeaways from “The Amazing Spider-Man 2.”
1. Spidey looks — and sounds — better than ever.
In the new film, fans get a spidey-suit so smooth, it looks as if it were drawn by Mark Bagley. Garfield now looks lighter than air when trying to save the day — the franchise’s best web-slinging yet. It helps that the Sony/Columbia execs didn’t ask Garfield to bulk up too much, as he stays Spidey slim. Even the mask itself is impressive. Gone are the small, black eye lenses that were part of a suit from the first film that looked more like an old ABA basketball — now replaced with big, white and, most important, round lenses that have been a part of Spidey’s comic-book look for a good, long while. As for the sound, Garfield has mastered his vocal delivery when beneath the mask. Director Marc Webb understands that Spidey is a loquacious hero — and when Spidey talks, he’s funny and sarcastic as he chatters with a New York accent, natch.
2. Electro is far from electrifying
Electro, despite being a classic, isn’t up there in the Spidey gallery with such villains as the Goblins and Venom, so there’s more leeway to experiment. But we’ve all seen the invisible, nerdy, disgruntled employee who takes revenge for no one paying attention to him when he comes into power (Jim Carrey as the Riddler, for example). Jamie Foxx’s Max Dillon (his pre-Electro identity) is almost straight out of a comic book, but that’s not always a good thing — even in a comic book movie. Foxx does his best with the role as written, and he’s pretty menacing once he’s Electro, becoming a reluctant villain who is stronger than Spider-Man — just as smart and surprisingly vicious.
3. A goblin green with envy
Dane DeHaan nails his role as a rich-kid, trust-fund hipster with a haircut only a mother could love (if only he had a mother), who would seemingly not have a care in the world after inheriting OSCORP. You feel his pain of abandonment that haunts him. DeHaan and Garfield come off as genuine best friends who haven’t seen each other in years — you want it to work with Peter and Harry — but we know where this friendship is tragically destined to go. Especially since it was revealed in the trailers that Harry becomes the Green Goblin. And DeHaan’s Harry doesn’t just turn bad on a whim. He’s desperate. His reasons for embracing his demons within are valid to him. A lot was made of DeHaan’s look as the Goblin, but the performance is strong. The first time Spidey and the Green Goblin lay eyes on one another, it’s intense. And considering Sony/Columbia’s Sinister Six plans, DeHaan seems more than ready to lead a group of rogues whose purpose is to torment Spider-Man.
(Also, pay attention to Harry’s Oscorp assistant when she introduces herself.)
4. A darker tone
This is a much darker movie than advertised. You feel it most in Peter’s worrying about Emma Stone’s Gwen Stacy. It’s all jokes for Spidey no matter how dangerous a situation he’s in, *except* when Gwen is involved. Peter is literally haunted by Gwen’s father, Captain Stacy, who pleaded with Peter to stay away from Gwen before his death in the first movie. You feel and hear the fear in Peter’s voice when he pleads with Gwen to stay as far away from him as possible.
5. A superhero power couple
The best thing going for the rebooted franchise is the chemistry between Garfield and Stone as Peter and Gwen. The only question is, with Sony/Columbia making it clear they are hoping to make at least six Spider-Man movies (not counting spinoffs), how much longer will we see this superhero power couple on screen? Those who know their Spider-Man history are well-aware of the fate that awaits this relationship. But with Stone’s portrayal of Gwen being one of the highlights of this franchise, will Sony/Columbia eventually afford to do what every comic-book fan knows is necessary?