The Amazing Spider-Man 2
(Marc Webb, 2014)
Maybe not quite amazing, but just like its predecessor I thought this was a very entertaining movie that was made entertaining primarily on account of the strength of the actors, the relationships they flesh out in the scenes that they play out. Thematically it may not be anything revolutionary, but when there’s been 5 Spider-Man movies in 13 years it’s just impressive enough that it feels relatively fresh, and not entirely all seen before. It’s essentially all built around that famous line “With great power comes great responsibility”, and over the course of 2+ hours that don’t really feel like 2+ hours they play that idea out very well through plot.
Andrew Garfield is brilliant, he’s even more brilliant when working in tandem with the equally brilliant Emma Stone. The first film was at its greatest when the two of them were dueting on screen, and the same can absolutely be said of this one. There’s one scene, a laying out of ground rules between the two characters, that ranks up there with the cutest most adorable things I’ve ever seen on screen. It’s beautiful how they keep things the right side of cheap, corny, sentiment, and create these moments of pure bliss that feel so utterly natural, so completely authentic, and effortless. Spider-Man 3 will have big boots to fill.
I’m not the biggest Dane DeHaan fan, but he’s pretty good here, again primarily in the scenes he shares with Garfield. The first scene the two of them have together is some seriously lovely work that for me at least will probably remain one of the better performed of 2014. They suggest a whole history between these two characters who’ve yet to share a scene in one and a bit movies, convincingly establish a whole friendship that will play so huge a role in the movie to come.
Jamie Foxx is kind of brilliant. I think these supporting roles are what he generally does best, and he so utterly convinces in a role that on the page doesn’t sound remotely like something he’d be right for. Max Dillon is a great tragicomic character, and Foxx brings him vividly to life, finding the comedy in the sadness of his early scenes, and the tragedy in the wickedness of his later ones.
Felicity Jones gets a role that based on name you’d assume was going to lead to something in successive movies, but if that’s going to happen they didn’t do much in either of her two scenes, or any of her three lines to set it up here. Paul Giamatti is absurd, but in a comic way that works wonderfully in context. The only others really worth mentioning are Campbell Scott and Embeth Davidtz whose casting in the first film I questioned given how unused they were in it, but here they get a short but beautifully played out pre-credits sequence that the two of them (him sadly more than her) get the most out of. Marton Csokas and B.J. Novak do amusing character work, Colm Feore does dasterdly character work, Sally Field is still no Rosemary Harris, Chris Cooper is completely wasted, and Sarah Gadon was apparently in the movie too… though I couldn’t tell you where.
The action scenes… I’m no 3D fan, but watching this film in 2D, I felt like quite a lot of the big set pieces would have been enhanced via the third dimension… If you’re into that sort of thing. They’re nothing especially noteworthy otherwise, though not entirely off putting as some overblown over loud, tackily, glaringly obviously computer generated, and downright incoherently nonsensical action scenes in some movies of this nature tend to be (I’m looking at you Zac Snyder). Ultimately it is the people that make this movie, and that is nice to see. The score is all very stirring, the whole thing never feels as long as it is, it’s all a lot of fun, and manages to withstand greatest calamity to go out on something of a triumphant high. Hopefully they do part 3 better than Raimi did.