Going into The Amazing Spider-Man 2, I was prepared to hate it. After all, it’s written by the guys who wrote such cinematic classics such as Transformers: Revenge of the Fallen and Star Trek Into Darkness. Putting one of the most pivotal Spider-Man story lines of all time into their hands was a scary idea, but thankfully they had a third writer on the movie with them and the result is a pretty good Spider-Man movie with only a few issues. In fact, as much as I enjoyed the first Amazing Spider-Man I think I like this one slightly better.
The biggest crime the movie makes, and one of its big problems, is heavy-handed foreshadowing that beats you over the head without any subtly at all. This was likely the work of the Kurtzman & Orci duo as they like to do things like that. Right from the beginning, when Gwen is giving a graduation speech about how one of us is invincible, we’re all eventually going to die, and some may “fall” along the way you’ll be rolling your eyes at their poor attempt to telegraph the story. Foreshadowing the Sinister Six is there as well, but they save that for the latter half of the film and it doesn’t feel quite as heavy handed there…you want to see this group of criminals that the Goblin wants to keep “small”
Once again this Spidey is the wise-cracking jokester you’d expect from the comic. They actually improved that even more over the original movie, and apparently they did so by hiring comedians to write some of his dialog. Every moment with Spider-Man in the suit is the best part of the movie, such as how he interacts with the cops and firefighters including that awesome moment in the Times Square battle where he mans a fire hose, helmet and all. The character in the Raimi films may have looked a lot like Spider-Man, but he never felt like the relaxed and carefree webslinger we expected from the comics. I actually didn’t like the costume in the first Amazing Spider-Man, and they greatly improved on it for this one. Amazing Spider-Man 2 gives us the best on-screen Spider-Man we’ve ever had.
As for the villains? Well, don’t expect much Rhino at all…you’ll get more of him in another movie. I feel that Electro was sort of wasted. I’ve heard others say that about Goblin, but this version of Harry Osborne felt more like the comic Harry than the Raimi version, who was just the jerk version of the character dialed up to 11. Goblin becomes the crazy master mind here that you want to see, and as a result (by the time Harry begins the total evil transformation) it feels like Electro is reduced just to being his enforcer. Think Bane in Batman & Robin. I also liked how they tried to make Harry look creepy and Goblin-like. This isn’t a Power Ranger reject like in the Raimi film.
Now, I’m going to have to address something major here that some may consider spoiler territory. Even though it happened in the comics back in 1973, and it’s a story almost every Spider-Man fan knows, some people freak out when you begin to talk about Gwen Stacy. But c’mon, Sony has been telegraphing and giving away that this movie will resolve the “Gwen Stacy Saga” ever since they began promoting the movie by releasing stills and footage of Gwen wearing the exact same outfit she did in Amazing Spider-Man #121.
I mentioned to my friend as the credits were rolling that there are a lot of people these days who don’t read comics, and thanks to these first two Amazing Spider-Man movies they at least get to see the Gwen Stacy Saga on the big screen. Sure there are changes, including a pretty big one involving just how Gwen gets into her fateful situation, but in the end the emotional gut punch of what it does to Spidey is still there.
They did a perfect job building up the Peter/Gwen relationship, and cast the perfect Gwen Stacy, so when the story plays out its conclusion even long-time Spider-Man fans who know the tale backwards and forwards may end up with a lump in their throat seeing it play out on the big screen. It’s not a 100% accurate version of the comic story, but it’s good enough to tell people there was someone in Peter’s life before the MJ that most people know about.
One of the biggest disappointments in the movie is the soundtrack, if you could even call it that. Hans Zimmer joined forces with a group of “musicians” called the “Magnificent Six” to produce something of a hodgepodge between a movie soundtrack, a cheesy kids television soundtrack (think Power Rangers), and dubstep. The result is horrible and an insult to your eardrums. This is nothing even close to the soaring film score James Honer created for the first movie. The only, and I mean only, positive thing about the soundtrack is that it does give Spider-Man the best “theme” out of any of the Spider-Man movies (Raimi and Webb). The only problem is you don’t get to hear it enough in the movie over the dubstep. You can hear the fanfare here, which is what plays at the beginning of the credits as the Spidey logo slowly flies on screen. It’s pretty awesome actually.
In the end with the improved Spidey suit, the resolution of the Gwen Stacy Saga, a surprisingly good Harry/Goblin, and an improving on-screen portrayal of Spidey himself I do like The Amazing Spider-Man 2 a little bit more than the original. Fans of the comic will want to keep an eye out for nods and references to JJ Jameson (one of the funniest bits in the movie), Black Cat, the Spider Slayers, as well as other members of the Sinister Six. The Amazing Spider-Man 2 may not be the amazing comic adaptation Captain America: The Winter Soldier is, but it’s a great Spider-Man movie and that’s all fans should ask for.