I grew up on Spider-Man and remember running around making the web-shooting/rock-and-roll hand signs and attacking the devious Doctor Octopus (the vacuum cleaner), the dastardly Vulture (our pet bird Peaches), and the fierce Lizard (our ficus tree). I took down each villain with the same panache and swagger that I saw him do in the comics and cartoons. The Amazing Spider-Man 2: Rise of Electro brings all of my role-playing imaginings to life in over-the-top CGI and a spectacular cast. Just like that little boy I was, the story matches my fluctuant hyperactivity with much less successful results.
Andrew Garfield returns as Peter Parker/Spider-Man and he is finally graduating from high school. Like most superheroes, he is having a hard time juggling his alter ego life with his social/family life (Aunt May played by Sally Field) and some semblance of a love life with Gwen Stacy (Emma Stone). This is only made harder with the looming guilt over the promise Peter made to Gwen’s father. After a foreshadowing graduation speech given by Gwen, Peter is so overwhelmed with guilt that he breaks up with Gwen. That’s the least of his problem, when he is forced to confront his parent’s past to help save his old friend Harry Osborn (Dane DeHaan), who has a rare genetic disease. Meanwhile, we see the very lonely, tragic life of Max Dillon (Jamie Foxx) and how his hero worship leads him to become a super-villain, Electro.
As if one villain weren’t enough, we witness Harry’s transformation into the Green Goblin by using the same spider venom that gave Spider-Man his powers. Unfortunately, that makes him mentally unstable, much like Electro. Too bad that isn’t the only unstable element in this film. I appreciate their attempt at trying to introduce multiple characters from the comics, like the Rhino (Paul Giamatti), in order to set up a Sinister Six all villain spin off, but the cost was too high. By trying to cram so much into a film, they overwhelm the audience and undermine every character they introduce. Not just that, but they create sporadic narrative that keeps you unfocused throughout the film. It becomes so bad that it even takes some of the gravitas away from the electrifying climax.
As a comic book fan, I am mostly happy with the The Amazing Spider-Man 2, especially with how the climax plays into the actual comic book universe. The best part of the film would have to be the caliber of the cast. This made the condensed introduction of every new character bearable, even when their unbearable theme songs are playing. The by-the-(comic)books CGI comes off as typical, but well done. You can’t really say much about a comic book movie that feels like a comic/animated feature because that is really the only way to successfully portray the Spider-Man universe. Sorry, you can’t Nolan-ize this, but it could have benefited from a little bit more brains in the story.
RATING: ★★★★★★(6/10 stars)
IN THEATERS NOW