So I’ll be honest – I never had much interest in the Spider-Man reboot. I liked the original two by Sam Raimi, not so much the third, and I didn’t see much point in starting over with a new set of actors and a new director.
When Marc Webb’s The Amazing Spider-Man came out with Andrew Garfield as our favorite web-head, I didn’t rush to the theater, though I found myself intrigued by the inclusion of Gwen Stacy over Mary Jane Watson.
I enjoyed The Amazing Spider-Man more than I thought I would, and I really think Emma Stone made that film work. Garfield is a good Spider-Man – funny, lanky, athletic. However, it’s Stone’s Stacy that stole the show. Much of the movie felt like a retread, but the Lizard and Gwen Stacy gave it a much-needed dose of originality.
Yet again, when The Amazing Spider-Man 2 arrived in theaters, I felt no urge to see it. The reappearance of Harry Osborn as the Green Goblin really turned me off, and Electro never appealed to me much when I read the comics.
And, honestly, there was another reason I didn’t particularly want to go see it. I’m thirty-seven and I’ve read comic books since the age of three, so I know Gwen Stacy’s story. I know the circumstances of the character’s fate. I truly did not want to see it happen, especially with Emma Stone making her the soul of the franchise.
But, when it recently came out on DVD, I couldn’t resist. Guess what? I loved it. Putting Garfield in the classic Spider-Man costume made him seem more authentic, and Emma Stone delivered yet another magnetic performance. Jamie Foxx was okay as Electro, but the special effects surrounding the character really and truly blew me away. The stuff they did with Electro looked amazing. Dane DeHaan defied my bitterness concerning the overuse of Harry Osborn. In fact, up until the moment he became the Green Goblin I found him extremely charismatic and I actually rooted for Osborn a little. But then he became the Green Goblin and I stopped caring – I found him way too similar to what Raimi did.
I’ll be truthful – this was a great looking movie. I loved the special effects, the costumes, the cinematography, the sheer scale – almost everything! This is a big movie. I really felt like I was in New York when Spider-Man hit the streets to battle the bad guys. Webb got almost all of it right. I’m not going to pretend the story riveted me, but it certainly kept my attention. But the thing looked beautiful. With Elector’s electricity and Spider-Man swinging through the city streets – it looked like a comic book come to life.
I think what they got particularly right from a character standpoint is Peter and Gwen’s relationship. These two have real chemistry together, and they were a lot of fun to watch. I won’t get into Gwen’s fate, but I am so glad they didn’t just make her a damsel in distress. She played every bit as much the role of hero as did Peter Parker. If they ever introduce Mary Jane Watson, they will have a hard time making the fans forget Gwen Stacy. There were rumors Watson would make an appearance in this movie, and I’m so glad they decided against it. It would have been undignified.
Webb also made a hopeful movie. Spider-Man has gone through some serious shit since 1962. Life constantly beats him up, yet he keeps putting on the costume and trying to do the right thing. Webb captured the essence of that optimism. Like in the comics, every good thing Peter tries to do usually backfires on him, yet he knows people count on him to be the hero, and he lives up to that responsibility. In a world where Batman is dark as night and Superman would rather punch a villain in the face than save a crumbling city, it’s nice to see Spider-Man still saving the innocent while making quips.
Finally, I think they nailed Spider-Man’s relationship with New Yorkers. He’s about as New York as they come, and he’s their hero, through and through. In fact, Webb made a genius move by having Spider-Man interact with New York children, and it could not have been more heartwarming. I won’t give it away, but there’s a final scene with a little boy that about had me in tears (the happy kind).
The Amazing Spider-Man 2 had far more heart and originality than I expected, especially when compared to its previous installment. There are rumors that they are going to make a Sinister Six movie, and if the groundwork they laid in this movie is any indication, it actually might be pretty good! Paul Giamatti is in this film for about eight minutes, but his Rhino character looked awesome. If they get actors of his caliber to work alongside DeHaan’s Green Goblin, they might have something inexplicably interesting.
So, if you’re like me and sort of ambivalent about the Spider-Man reboot, I do recommend you check out The Amazing Spider-Man 2. It’s exciting, looks beautiful, has some seriously emotional moments (both happy and sad), and for Spidey fans, it does not disappoint in that it felt pretty true to the source material.