For fans of the comic books, as well as the movies that manifest from those stories, there's a statement that continues to get thrown around quite a bit: Give the rights back to Marvel. Ever since Marvel Studios started bringing their comic book characters to life with their own production studio, releasing smash-hits like Iron Man and, most recently, Captain America: The Winter Soldier, the other studios have been under fire from all types of audience goers to give the rights back to the house that holds the characters. Sony, and other studios, won't go quietly, though, and the only way they can keep those rights is by releasing more movies.
So, here we are, two years after the release of Sony's reboot to their Spider-Man universe, The Amazing Spider-Man, and Sony's been sailing on gentle winds. Unlike many reboots, 2012's Spider-Man film managed to bring back the action, the special effects, and characters that so many people clamor for in a comic book movie. For Sony, it's about keeping up the momentum, especially when they've already announced a pair of new sequels, along with two additional spin-off films coming down the pipe.
Does The Amazing Spider-Man 2 deliver?
Directed by Marc Webb (The Amazing Spider-Man, 500 Days of Summer), and starring Andrew Garfield as Spider-Man, Emma Stone as Gwen Stacy, Jamie Foxx as Max Dillon/Electro, and Dane DeHaan as Harry Osborn/Green Goblin, The Amazing Spider-Man 2 kicks off quite a while after the events of the first movie. Not long enough that everyone's forgotten about the scientist that wanted to turn the whole city into lizards, though. We open with Spider-Man trying to stop a truck that's being driven by Paul Giamatti's Aleksei Sytsevich, as they try to steal some Oscorp goods.
Right off the bat, we're provided with a Spider-Man that's basically ripped right out of the comics, in all of the right ways. He's sarcastic, a nuisance and incredibly good at what he does. The special effects are put on display right out of the gate too, as we watch Spidey swing from building to building, saving lives, stopping the bad guys. Spider-Man has always had "a way" about him, and The Amazing Spider-Man films have been able to grasp that character and just throw him up perfectly onto the big screen.
The real power of the films comes through Andrew Garfield and Emma Stone, though. The pair has an amazing chemistry on screen, something that's even more apparent here in the second film. The reason it's more apparent, though, is because the parts that have Stone or Garfield, or even Foxx or DeHaan by themselves are pretty weak in comparison. The film is absolutely at its best when the lead actors are together, in any kind of match-up.
Webb has said that the movie, as a whole, was reverse-engineered behind the idea that some major events had to happen, that a major character had to make it happen, but that it didn't necessarily have to be the focus (at least not directly) of the entire movie. The result of that is the villain Electro, played well enough --given the character's dialogue-- by Foxx. Electro may seem like a distraction, but we loved the way he's showcased on film. The music that plays during his fight scenes, an apparent result of the amount of electricity being manipulated, really goes well with what's being shown. Plus, it was unique, and really stands out.
The movie isn't perfect, and there are some issues. First, the history with Peter Parker's parents seems utterly pointless. Yes, it's a driving element to Parker's desire for the truth in his life, and what happened, but there's really nothing to it. The revelations that are gleaned during the film aren't really worth learning, and don't really change anything that we didn't already know from the first film. Or figure out, thanks to certain key events. There's also a bit of a hole in the plot due to the parents' inclusion at the start of the film, but it's a small enough one that it's easily forgotten.
Parker's aunt, May, played by Sally Field, is woefully underutilized yet again in the second film. She has some great lines and is absolutely believable in her desire to keep Peter as "her boy," but she's just not in the film enough. She's an integral part to Peter's life, and her not really being involved much is a missing piece to the larger puzzle. This is something we think they'll fix in the subsequent films.
This is the second time that Sony's made me leave the theater and be happy with the results, and I'm still not entirely sure how to feel about this. As a Marvel fan, and for someone who's wanted to see several Marvel character rights revert back to the company, watching Sony correct what they've done wrong in the past and bring to the silver screen movies that are actually really worth watching, is an entirely new experience for me. At least, when it comes to comic book characters. The Amazing Spider-Man 2 is a very good film, and it's setting up a universe within Sony's own domain that's looking very, very entertaining.