Thursday Night Movie Club
The Amazing Spider-Man 2
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Release Date: 2 May 2014

Director: Marc Webb
Andrew Garfield
Emma Stone
Jamie Foxx
Dane DeHaan
Colm Feore
Felicity Jones
Paul Giamatti
Sally Field
Embeth Davidtz
Campbell Scott
Marton Csokas
Louis Cancelmi
Max Charles
B.J. Novak
Sarah Gadon
Michael Massee
Chris Cooper
Spider-Man / Peter Parker
Gwen Stacy
Electro / Max Dillon
Green Goblin / Harry Osborn
Donald Menken
Rhino/Aleksei Sytsevich
Aunt May
Mary Parker
Richard Parker
Dr. Ashley Kafka
Man in Black Suit
Young Peter Parker
Alistair Smythe
Gustav Fliers
Norman Osborn
The Amazing Spider-Man 2 movie poster #1 The Amazing Spider-Man 2 movie poster #2 The Amazing Spider-Man 2 movie poster #2
Andrew Garfield as Peter Parker/Spider-Man in The Amazing Spider-Man 2The Amazing Spider-Man 2 opens with a bang but also sets up the main theme of the film. The date is the high school graduation day for Peter Parker (Andrew Garfield) and Gwen Stacy (Emma Stone). Gwen is a bit nervous as she is delivering the valedictorian speech. Peter, her boyfriend and supporter, is no where to be found.

Suddenly, Gwen's phone rings. Peter is calling to tell her he may be a little late as he is hung up in traffic. Actually, Peter is calling her as his alter-ego Spider-Man. Spidey is clinging to the front of a truck while chasing a stolen armored car containing plutonium. At least, Peter is considerate enough to call.

Paul Giamatti in The Amazing Spider-Man 2The opening action sequence is exciting and shows a marked improvement over the previous film. Peter Parker, being much more comfortable as Spider-Man, is a lot cockier and tons funnier. He pokes fun at villain Aleksei Sytsevich (Paul Giamatti) while calmly perched on the driver-side door of the getaway vehicle. Peter is feeling indestructible and he is enjoying the wild ride, literally and figuratively. Spider-Man saves the day and Peter Parker makes it to his graduation just as his name is announced. All is good!

But life is not simple or easy for Peter Parker. Superman was born super. Bruce Wayne chose to become Batman. With the X-Men, mutation happens naturally. For Parker and the villains he has faced and will face, their changes are accidental. The choices people make after their radical change forever changes their lives and the lives of those closest to them.

Max Dillon (Jamie Foxx) is a nerd, like Parker. Dillon is brilliant. He is very good at his job. He single-handedly rebuilt the electrical grid in New York. Oscorp, not Dillon, takes all the credit. Dillon is the butt of jokes. He is picked on physically and mentally. Co-workers take full advantage of him. Dillon is assigned menial repair jobs while everyone else leaves for the day.

Jaime Foxx as Electro in The Amazing Spider-Man 2Making the repairs, Dillon is hit with a massive burst of electricity. He falls into a tank of genetically engineered electric eels. Dillon emerges a "new" man. His body emanates blue electricity. Dillon is confused wandering aimlessly around the city. He has no control over his new abilities and lashes out at anyone who makes fun of him. Dillon is a danger to himself and the public.

Enter Your Friendly Neighborhood Spider-Man! Spider-Man is able to calm Dillon. They are just about to move Dillon to a safe place when an over-zealous police sharp-shooter takes a pot-shot at Dillon. Dillon made a choice to follow Spider-Man's advice. After the shot, Dillon's building rage boils over. He is tired of being picked on! He now has the ability to stand up for himself. He attacks everyone in sight. Spider-man, with the help of the fire department, is able to subdue Dillon.

Andrew Garfield and Emma Stone in The Amazing Spider-Man 2Spider-Man now has a lull in battling super villains and he can get back to just being Peter Parker. What does he do? Peter is madly in love with Gwen. Gwen is in love with Peter. But high school is over. Now is the time to grow into adults.

Peter cannot easily give up being Spider-Man. The city, citizens, police and fire have all come to rely on Spider-Man saving the day in emergencies. Peter is still haunted by the promise he gave to Gwen's father, the late Police Captain Stacy. Peter must keep Gwen safe by staying far away from her.

When Gwen is a finalist to receive a full scholarship to Oxford, Peter's dilemma has an easy solution. Gwen goes to Britain and she is out of harm's way. In Peter's world, life is complicated. An easy solution is not an easy choice. Do Peter and Gwen end their love affair? Does Peter give up being Spider-Man and follow her? Peter also has Aunt May (Sally Field) to worry about. As Albus Dumbledore said to Harry Potter, "It is not our abilities that define us. It is our choices." Making a choice and then living up to that choice is one of the main themes in the Spider-Man saga.

Andrew Garfield and Dane DeHaan in The Amazing Spider-Man 2Life is complicated. Peter's boyhood friend Harry Osborn returns after graduating from boarding school. Harry is also a lot like Peter. Peter's parents were killed when he was young. Harry's father Norman Osborn (Chris Cooper) basically abandoned his son when he sent Harry to school. Both Peter and Harry have grown into young adults being estranged from their parents.

On his death-bed, Norman delivers some life-altering news to Harry. Norman's debilitating disease is hereditary. Now that Harry has grown up, the disease is becoming manifested in him too. Harry Osborn will die, just like his father.

The other theme resounding through the sage is: With great power comes great responsibility! Or conversely: Absolute power corrupts absolutely! Due to a succession plan, young Harry becomes CEO of Oscorp after his father's death. Harry gets a full dose of reality. Oscorp has gotten too big for its own good. There is a power struggle going on for control of the company.

Donald Menken (Colm Feore) and Oscorp's Board of Directors do not recognize Harry as CEO of Oscorp. Harry is squeezed out of his own company. He does not have the legal resources or allies to defend his position. His only ally is Felicia (Felicity Jones). Felicia is roughly Harry's age. Like Harry and Max Dillon, Felicity's talents are taken for granted at Oscorp. She is only a tool or a pawn to be used.

Andrew Garfield and Dane DeHaan in The Amazing Spider-Man 2Felicity tells Harry of an aspect of Oscorp only Norman knows exists. The experimental laboratories/facilities where Peter's father Richard once worked with Dr. Curt Connors. The world begins crashing in on Harry Osborn and Peter Parker. Harry discovers Richard Parkers research, especially the part of self-healing. Harry believes Spider-Man's blood can cure his affliction. Peter is not so sure. Peter, now as Spider-Man, refuses Harry's request and sets Harry on his path of destruction. Choices... choices... choices!

The Amazing Spider-Man 2 is overly long, yet never boring! Director Marc Webb could have ended the film on a very powerful, emotional note. The corporate need for a storybook happy ending in a comic book movie may have influenced Webb's decision.

Webb and screen writers Alex Kurtzman and Roberto Orci have crafted a complex story. Twists, turns, double-crosses and honest love/friendships abound. All of the characters are portrayed as real people facing real and daunting challenges. Every character is given options. The choices made by one person have a domino effect affecting the choices other characters can make. The lives of everyone in the film are intertwined in the spider-web-of-life!

The chemistry between Garfield and Stone is fantastic. The two actors can express more by stuttering than many other actors can with full dialog. When Peter is unsure of exactly how to talk to Gwen about his dilemma, Gwen reads his mind and fills in the blanks. Peter constantly keeps Gwen out of harm's way. Gwen resolutely defies him because Spider-Man needs her help.

Jaime Foxx and Andrew Garfield in The Amazing Spider-Man 2Dane DeHaan is a skinny, little, pipsqueak of a man, but he steals every scene he where he appears. The chemistry between Garfield and DeHaan is every bit as interesting as Garfield and Stone. The meeting between Peter and Harry along the river front is emotional and touching. As kids, they had a lot in common. Their similar experiences and feelings while growing up are also eerily similar. Their bond is true and honest. Both young men wish their lives could have been different. Alas, life happens... deal with it!

Jaime Foxx gives Max Dillon the same empathy as Peter and Harry. Foxx is stellar. One moment, Dillon is the nice guy who finishes last. Foxx portrays Max/Electro as a sympathetic character when Dr. Ashley Kafka (Marton Csokas) uses secret facilities at Oscorp to experiment and torture Max. Harry Osborn runs out of options. Electro is also out of options. Both characters are trapped. They need each other's help in order to escape. Their growing/combined madness leads to disaster! Spider-Man has no other option but to stop their rampage.

Sally Field as Aunt May is fabulous. Field nails one very pivotal, emotional scene with Garfield. Aunt May and Peter are arguing when she has finally had enough. Aunt May half cries, half screams at Peter, "I raised you. I fed you. I washed your clothes. I am your mother!" Peter is taken aback by this revelation. Peter realizes the truth in her words. Aunt May is Peter's mother. Field is excellent in this one particular scene. Aunt May struggles to stay in control of her feelings but reaches the breaking point and she is free to tell Peter exactly how she feels. In other scenes, Field is wonderfully funny in a straight forward manner. Peter wants to wash his own clothes, including his Spider-Man costume, but Aunt May will have none of that!

Spider-Man fights Electro in The Amazing Spider-Man 2The action sequences and special effects are top notch. The story, like life itself, is very complex. Webb uses a relaxed approach giving the story, characters and relationships ample time to develop naturally, thus adding to the length of the film. Character interactions are very touching, emotional, interesting, thrilling and exciting.

One of the problems with The Amazing Spider-Man 2 is the three or four endings to the film. Foreshadowing is unnecessary and takes away from the surprises when the third film is released. The film ends right in the middle of Spider-Man's confrontation with the mechanized Rhino suit operated by Aleksei Sytsevich (a wonderful performance by Paul Giamatti). Presumably, Spider-Man wins.

Another problem is casting Colm Feore. There is nothing wrong with Feore's performance. He is wickedly clever and conniving. Feore looks, sounds and acts like Clark Gregg's Agent Phil Coulson of S.H.I.E.L.D. This casting is very confusing.

The Amazing Spider-Man 2 is a notch better than some other recent comic book films. Enjoy!

On a strictly personal note: Peter Parker is every bit the genius as Gwen Stacy. In The Amazing Spider-Man, Peter and Gwen joke in front of Dr. Connors over who is smarter. Why does Peter become a photographer instead of continuing his education? Peter should be up for the same Oxford scholarship as Gwen. Why doesn't Peter get his own scholarship at any major U.S. university?