Andrew Garfield returns as the high-flying, web-swinging wall-crawler in this latest installment of Spider-Man simply titled The Amazing Spider-Man 2. The movie was directed by Marc Webb and also sees the return of Peter Parkerís girlfriend Gwen Stacy (Emma Stone) and worried Aunt May played by Sally Field.
The film opens with a flashback scene about Peterís parents preparing to go on the run similar to what we saw in the first movie then quickly fast-forwards to the present where we see Spider-Man dropping through the city of New York (literally) to help the NYPD stop a truck hijacking led by Russian Mobster Aleksei Sytsevich (Paul Giamatti). Led is a strong word, Aleksei is the get-away driver while two unnamed thugs are in the back of an Oscorp truck trying to steal some kind of radioactive materials. The scene is fun and full of cool web-swinging effects and moves that really gives you a good look at Spideyís abilities as well as his wisecracking ways which comic readers are very familiar with. Of course, Peter is stopping this crime all while trying to get to his high-school graduation where Gwen is about to give her valedictorian speech.
After that, things calm down quite a bit as the relationship between Peter and Gwen plays out (Peter is still feeling guilty about the promise he made to her dad (Denis Leary) in the first movie) and the villains of the movie are introduced including the Osborns and Max Dillon (Jamie Foxx) who starts as an Oscorp employee portrayed as a textbook loser who thinks Spidey is his best friend after being saved by the wall-crawler. After a mishap at Oscorp, Dillon is electrified with fantastic powers and becomes the filmís main super-bad guy known as Electro.
Overall, I felt the movie had promise and liked it better than the first Amazing Spider-Man movie, although I felt it dragged a bit too much at times. It was also very predictable and a bit cliche, especially if you are a fan of the comics. However the origins of all the characters (especially the villains) are drastically different from what we have seen from the comics, so comic book purists beware. I will say there is one big scene towards the end of the movie that remains pretty true to the comics, and I really liked how it was handled. While you are pretty sure you know what the outcome is going to be, they do a good job of leaving you guessing until the end.
I have to be honest, I have never been a big fan of any of the big-screen adaptations of Spider-Man. I donít know why since I do enjoy the character overall. Certainly Spider-Man 3 with Tobey Maguire was the worst, but for some reason I have just never been terribly excited about any of them. I do like Garfield and his portrayal of Spider-Man and think Emma Stone does a good job as well. The special and 3-D effects in this one for the most part are solid although there are a few times where the blue screen is pretty apparent. I just felt this movie dragged out a bit too much and really didnít like how many of the origins for the villains have been changed, especially where the Osborns are concerned. The whole thing with The Rhino was just silly and Giamatti seemed more of a afterthought than anything else, but I am sure kids will love it which is what really matters in this kind of film. Still, as far as superhero movies go, I find this one falls way short of Captain America: The Winter Soldier. I even look forward much more to the upcoming X-Men film than this one, but that also may just be my lack of enthusiasm for Spidey on the big-screen.
For those wondering, my screening had nothing after the credits. There are some graphics shown as the credits roll giving you glimpses at possible upcoming Sinister Six villains which will be getting their own film in the near future, but no actual post-credit scene or even the X-Men: Days of Future Past preview reportedly shown at the end of the movie overseas. I donít know if that was removed for the screening or if it just isnít being included for folks here in the US.