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The Amazing Spider-Man 2 (2014)
The semantics surrounding Spider-Man's story have evolved since famed writer Stan Lee and acclaimed artist Steve Ditko first created this friendly neighbourhood crime fighter born of a radioactive arachnid bite for the comic book pages of Amazing Fantasy #15 (1962). The movie, The Amazing Spider-Man, and this sequel seem to pick and peck from the more recently re-imagined Ultimate Spider-Man (2000-2009) series, by five-time Eisner Award-winning writer Brian Michael Bendis and long-time Marvel artist Mark Bagley. Billed as a franchise revamp that also updated select web head enemies and tied in with The Ultimates comic which inspired Marvel's Avengers flicks, Ultimate Spider-Man notoriously ended with the death of Spider-Man. As for this movie's villains, Lee and Ditko debuted Electro as a zap-happy criminal wearing green spandex and a spikey helmet in The Amazing Spider-Man #9 (1964), and introduced the ghoulishly insane, pumpkin bomb-tossing Green Goblin later that same year, in The Amazing Spider-Man #14. In a good way, they're also updated on the big screen here.
The film initially hits a paying audience with a web of escalating intrigue surrounding the past genetics experiments of Peter's father, before hurling Spider-Man into a spectacular, white-knuckle chase through the streets of Manhattan that nearly clobbers social pariah Max Dillon. Star struck from being saved by Spider-Man, Dillon slips into a needy fantasy where he's convinced they're friends, only to fall victim to a workplace accident that turns birthday boy Dillon into electricity wielding, short-fused Electro. You see a lot of this in the trailers. Enter Harry Osborn, Peter's affluent boyhood friend returned to take charge of the Oscorp empire, but quickly betrayed by forces beyond his control that lead Osborn to enlist Electro against Spider-Man and threaten Peter's worst fear: The death of another innocent.
The Amazing Spider-Man 2 is a phenomenal, action-packed ride. As seen last time, Andrew Garfield pulls in a truly captivating, notably believable performance as quick-witted and angst-riddled modern teen Peter Parker. Smart. Glib. Vulnerable. The wealth of praise obviously goes to screenwriters Alex Kurtzman, Roberto Orci and Jeff Pinkner for providing movie goers with this complex young character to follow along with, but Garfield's seemingly effortless, layered portrayal rivals that seen in most cinematic dramas unrelated to comic books. Like most of Marvel's contemporary movie heroes, his humanity thankfully outshines his super-human alias. Top marks also go to Emma Stone, returning with the same high caliber of enjoyably intelligent spark and spunk that made her Garfield's outstanding on-screen equal in 2012, and kudos to the hugely talented Sally Field for easily stealing every scene she's in, sharing so much by saying so little. Awesome.
As not seen last time, Jamie Foxx absolutely nails his dual role as the brilliant albeit disturbed Spidey fan, Max Dillon, turned super-charged human Tesla coil Electro. The Lizard mortally sabotaged everything good about the first film over-all, but Foxx's transformation as this character's twisted arc unfolds is intensely fresh and compelling throughout. Spider-Man's far more famous second featured enemy, the Green Goblin, arrives late to the party yet Dane DeHaan adds a phenomenally intriguing dynamic to this story as quick-minded and sharp-tongued, poor little rich kid Harry Osborn. Much like Field's work as Aunt May, DeHaan's interpretation of Osborn comes heavily dosed with precise facial expressions that speak volumes beyond the dialogue. His performance truly is outstanding throughout - particularly considering this is a re-invented Harry Osborn, not seen on screen before. His motives make sense.
Sure, eagle-eyed Marvel comic book movie fans will probably notice a couple of plot wobbles while enjoying the playful in-jokes, but the minor gaffs are hardly worth bursting a gland over. Example: The recent alien attack on Manhattan faced by SHIELD and The Avengers in their 2012 picture seemed curiously ignored here, but that decision definitely kept this effort's fast-paced storytelling nicely contained and focused on all the new events unfolding in its currently self-contained franchise.
Cleverly crafted and delightfully entertaining, absolutely do yourself a huge favour and check out The Amazing Spider-Man 2 for its incredible cast of top talent, fun comedic asides and often stunning effects at the biggest movie screen you can find. Good stuff. Reviewed 05/14, © Stephen Bourne, moviequips.ca.
The Amazing Spider-Man 2 is rated
PG by the Ontario Film Review Board, citing scenes containing
some grotesque images in a fantasy, comedic or historic context,
occasional use of words such as darn, damn, hell, limited use
of slurs, scenes that may cause a child brief anxiety, or fear,
embracing and kissing, and restrained portrayals of non-graphic
violence, and is rated G by la Régie du Cinéma
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