When The Amazing Spider-Man came out in 2012, I didn't really respond to the webslinging reboot. Did I have a problem with it? Not necessarily, but there was something about it that I didn't really like. Maybe my allegiance to the Sam Raimi Spider-Man trilogy was more deep rooted than I anticipated? In any case, The Amazing Spider-Man 2 entertained me, but it just went on and on and on, and the big emotional punch at the end was the highlight of an overstuffed sequel.
Peter Parker (why hello Andrew Garfield) is still swinging from building to building as New York City's svelte-est superhero, but his relationship with Gwen Stacy (Emma Stone) skids in the first 20 minutes. Peter feels conflicted about continuing to see Gwen after her father told Peter to "leave Gwen out of it." You know, it was the man's last dying request, and now Peter is seeing the man everywhere. Dennis Leary must be happy for that easy paycheck. Needless to say, Peter and Gwen don't stay together very long.
During a high-speed chase early on in the film, Spider-Man saves the life of Max Dillon, an OsCorp Industries employee, played by Jamie Foxx. From that moment on, the nebbish and dorky Dillon idolizes Spidey so much that he tells himself that they could be friends. It's kind of like if Michelle Pfeiffer's Selina Kyle but waaaay off the deep end. I dig it. While doing some routine maintenance at OsCorp, Dillon falls into a tank of electric eels and he becomes a human generator called Electro. The design of Electro is rather dazzling. In a movie packed with visual effects, Electro's electric blue hues are gorgeous and unlike anything else that's in it.
Meanwhile, Peter's childhood best friend, Harry Osborn (Dane DeHaan), arrives back in town to visit his ill father, Norman (Chris Cooper). Norman explains to Harry that his condition is hereditary, and Harry soon begins showing signs of the illness. Harry discovers that he needs Spider-Man's blood to stop the disease from spreading further, but Peter is reluctant because he doesn't really know what his blood will do to Harry. Meanwhile...again...it appears that Gwen might be moving to England for a scholarship.
There's a lot in The Amazing Spider-Man 2. Lots of characters, lots of visual effects, lots of potential setup. There is good as well, that's for sure. It seems the sequel allows Peter to be more playful (especially in his showdowns with baddies), and the chemistry between Garfield and Stone is ridiculous. DeHaan's Harry isn't vengeful rich boy but near-desperate unlucky fellow. He's always a very welcome presence on screen, and his character has a malevolent foreshadowing surrounding him. The gut-punching conclusion is my favorite part of the entire thing. It was oddly beautiful and still sad.
Enjoying a big, loud, summer blockbuster is one thing, but the running time is a but much. I heard fanboys trumpeting this installment of Spider-Man as the best ever, but I still think Raimi's Spider-Man 2 was better. There is a moment near the end where they could have left it off. Peter and Gwen stand on top of a bridge in an embrace and Harry realizes (accepts?) his Green Goblin potential. It may have been more of a whimper than a bang, but I would of preferred it maybe.
It's very hard to generally please fanboys with comic book movies. The history is vast, and opinions are loud. For every single person that loved it is another person who thinks they got everything wrong. As a Spidey novice, I marginally enjoyed myself, but it all seems a bit overblown. Or maybe I am just missing the point.