Starring: Andrew Garfield, Emma Stone, Jamie Foxx, Dane DeHaan, Sally Field, Colm Feore, Felicity Jones, Paul Giamatti, Embeth Davidtz, Campbell Scott, Marton Csokas, Louis Cacelmi, and more.
Directed by: Marc Webb Screenplay by: Alex Kurtzman, Roberto Orci, and Jeff Pinker Screen Story by: Alex Kurtzman, Roberto Orci, Jeff Pinker, and James Vanderbilt Based on the Marvel Comic by: Stan Lee and Steve Ditko Cinematography by: Daniel Mindel Music by: Hans Zimmer and the Magnificent Six
Premise: Peter Parker is haunted by the ghosts of his dead parents and Gwen's father, which straine his relationships with Gwen and his Aunt May. Harry Osborn comes back to New York to visit his father on his deathbed. But the old man doesn't go before revealing the family curse, and giving Harry the possible means to overcome it. Then comes Max, brilliant but invisible to those around him, until a terrible accident that Oscorp tries to bury away and make him disappear. (Rated PG-13)
1) Acting - Total Thumbs Up: Andrew Garfield really brought home Spidey's tongue-in-cheek demeanor while crime fighting and even brought a little extra something extra to the web crusader. His scenes with Emma Stone have a lot of chemistry as well as a feeling of playfulness. Emma Stone lit up the screen whenever Gwen appeared. Dane DeHaan was a fun Harry Osborn - showing many facets; sharp, brooding, the shinning little boy, the desperate rich boy, and more. Jamie Fox was fascinating as the sad and almost creepy Max Dillon, then the much more outgoing and angry Electro.
2) Special Effects - Total Thumbs Up: There's a lot of CGI in the film, but it wasn't always obvious, so it was easy for the audience to immerse themselves in what was going on around them. Some neat third person camera angles as the web slinger made his rounds around New York - just enough to give you a sense of what it's like to travel as he does, but not enough to give you motion sickness.
All the effects relating to Electro were fantastic. I especially loved the scenes where he reconstituted himself in thin air. Some cool graphics with slow motion made for several spectacular scenes. The lost subway stop was very cool.
The most fun, however, were the little touches - like the juggling act with the radioactive material jars, the inventive ways Peter used his webbing, Osborn's cool desk computer, the gas settling over the spiders. Some really great work all around.
One poignant scene has his webbing spread out just enough to look like a reaching, overstretched hand, making it a true extension of Peter and his desires.
3) Plot/Story - Thumbs Up: The film starts in a totally unexpected place with some reveals and hints on the answers to the mysteries alluded to in "The Amazing Spider-man". It then works its way back to present day where we get another treat as Spider-man deals with some terrorist trying to steal canisters of radioactive material.
The story flips back and forth between romantic, sad, hopeful, and even funny. Some of the best parts are these little vignettes of compressed time - shots of Peter when he's taking his costume off and the little visual clues to the type of day he's had - Peter doing experiments to try to find a work around for a flaw with his web dispensers - Peter at the cemetery over a five month period.
The tiny comedic moments peppered throughout also gave the story a boost - the way Peter buys Gwen some time when she's being tracked down by security - Aunt May and Peter arguing over the clothes washer because both of them have secrets they are keeping from each other in the laundry. The boost is a good thing, because chunks of the film were made up of standard fare and a few too many coincidences, so it needed all the help it could get to be anything other than cliche.
4) Stunts - Total Thumbs Up: Stunts were a combination of live action and CGI and they were all done very well. There are a lot of blown up and thrown vehicles and lots of pedestrians running for cover, as well as people getting yanked out of danger in the nick of time
5) Locations/Cinematography - Total Thumbs Up: The film has some great spanning shots of New York. These very shots make the city going dark look very impressive and disturbing. The Oscorp building itself, inside and out, screamed of innovation and expensive technology. In contrast, Ravencroft, despite some of the high tech equipment, looked medieval and full of pain and secrets.
Conclusion: "The Amazing Spider-man 2" was definitely better than its predecessor. The vignettes are a hoot. Combined with the little jokes and cute moments, they take enough of the staleness out of the cliched plot to make it decent. Seeing the big battle with Electro is totally worth it.
Rating: 3.75 out of 5 (Hubby's Rating: Worth Full Price of Admission)