It’s tough to reboot a film franchise. It’s even tougher to do when you’re doing it only ten years after the film that (to borrow an overused meme) “jumped the shark” comes out. But The Amazing Spider-Man did just that in 2012 and did it very well. The sequel, The Amazing Spiderman 2 has just opened, and with two more films (plus spinoffs) already scheduled, the expectations were high. Especially with the key cast members all back and Marc Webb in the big chair.
The result is a movie that tries to do too much and succeeds in only portions of the ambitious agenda. The last thing one needs in the follow-up to a franchise reboot is revisiting expositional material but that’s exactly where the filmmakers choose to begin. More of the backstory of the parents of Peter Parker doesn’t really drive the story, although it’s interesting and allows Embeth Davidtz and Campbell Scott a few nice moments. Then we’re returned to the present where “Peter Parker/Spiderman” (Garfield) is busy trying to keep New York City safe while dealing with his girlfriend “Gwen Stacy” (Stone) and a promise that he made to her dying father and getting to an important ceremony on time.
At one point Spiderman saves “Max Dillon” (Foxx), yet another employee of Oscorp. Max already thought Spiderman was his friend and their brief encounter only reinforces his delusions. Oscorp’s founder, “Norman Osborn” (Chris Cooper briefly reprising his role in the reboot) is dying and his son “Harry” (DeHaan) returns home to see him. After his father’s death, Harry reunites with his childhood friend Peter Parker, whose help he seeks later, in locating Spiderman. Harry has the same illness that killed his father and he believes Spiderman’s blood is his salvation.
Max is the victim of a major industrial accident and becomes “Electro” and seeks out revenge on Spiderman, after Spidey overcomes him in their first encounter. Gwen wants to move to England for college and Spiderman’s life is coming unravelled.
In evaluating this film in terms of visuals and special effects, it’s one of the best in quite some time. Spiderman’s motion and the action against which that motion is set, is better than ever. When there is action on the screen, the pace is beyond frenetic and it’s easy to lose track of time. The same can’t be said when there is no physical action involving Spiderman and any of his various foes happening; and in a film that runs on for over 140 minutes, that’s not a good thing.
Andrew Garfield and Emma Stone have outstanding chemistry and their mutual attraction is not just believable, but enjoyable. Sally Field has some fine sequences as “Aunt May” who loves her nephew and will do anything to help him. I wish I’d have loved this film as much as I did the franchise reboot. I didn’t.