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Two years ago, movie-goers all over the world were reintroduced to yet another (of many) reboots. This time around, the complex and wild world of Spider-Man. Marc Webb’s version of this particular character was different in many ways. Yes, there were lots of similarities pertaining to storyline formula, but different in terms of style, look, and feeling. It was a total flip from Sam Raimi’s version, which was quite interesting until the third. Scraping and displaying a new-and-improved story from Marvel’s fun-filled world of unique individuals, “The Amazing Spider-Man” was released and taken well. It wasn’t perfect, but than again, what is? The leaks of on-set photos and clips of the new suit, Andrew Garfield and even Marc Webb (“500 Days of Summer”) himself as director raised eye-brows and questions. But guess what? The film was pretty well reviewed, embraced fairly by fans and went on to box-office success by generating $750million worldwide. If that doesn’t define success extending its hand and slapping non-believers across their mug, than I don’t know what does.

Well, here we are again, guys. The cool, jovial, creepy crawler-man is back. That said, oh what tangled Webb has weaved AGAIN! Pulsating, loud and electrifying, “The Amazing Spider-man 2” is everything the first wasn’t. In terms of stakes, characters and overall emotion, there’s so much more to endure in this sequel—if anything, its predecessor may have to take a back seat to this one.

Andrew Garfield

Taking off right where the first ended, Peter Parker’s (Andrew Garfield) outlook on the world as fun and games under the guise of Spider-man has abruptly come to a stop. His jovial, yet serious vow to keep his fellow New Yorkers safe will lead him right into the heart of the most powerful and important company in New York: OsCorp. The company that once employed Peter’s father and played a role in his parents’ disappearance now seems to be behind new enemies that are emerging, all of whom have advanced technology and powers. With the introduction of Electro (Jamie Foxx), Peter must confront a foe far more powerful than him. And as his old friend, Harry Osborn (Dane DeHaan), returns, Peter comes to realize that things have definitely become bigger and more complex than he’d ever imagine, especially when all the overwhelming chaos also includes the love of his life, Gwen (Emma Stone).

Upping it a notch, one of the most enjoyable aspects of this film (for me) was its writing (Alex Kurtzman, Roberto Orci, Jeff Pinkne). A lot of the unanswered questions left behind on the first are all exposed here. Everything from Parker’s father and parents as a whole, to a much deeper sense of what Peter balances with and/or without the costume. Having come off like a bit of a dickish kid enjoying his new found powers in the first, this time there’s an arc of which we kind of still see “the kid,” but there’s a fair level of maturity in Peter as a whole. He’s a lot more caring and humble. The chemistry between him and those surrounding him seem a lot stronger than before, especially between him and his rocky relationship with Gwen, followed later in the film during scenes that pertain to him and Harry—and while I’m at it, a smooth back-and-forth between him and Max Dillon (a/k/a Electro).

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Balancing out the progress we see in Peter’s character, we also get to see it with new villains. Who for what it’s worth, seemed to have a deeper impact in Peter’s and Spider-man’s life than Lizard. Now, it’s not to say Lizard wasn’t interesting to watch, especially during his development, but there wasn’t really anything memorable. It seemed like a villain that was just there going through the motions in order to give Spider-man some sort of purpose. As a fan of villains and knowing Marvel’s universe has a lot that leave a mark, I’m so happy that they went there with Electro, Green Goblin and The Rhino (Paul Giamatti). Yes, we’ve seen Goblin before, but the way he’s presented here and DeHaan playing Harry, it’s tight, fun and very entertaining. Against Willem Dafoe and/or James Franco it’s not a matter of “who’s better,” it’s just different and darker. Dane DeHaan brings a unique twist and style to the character with his talent. Jamie Foxx as Max Dillon / Electro is also great. Pretty much carrying the film as its lead villain, contrary to what others may think, I fucking loved it! I loved Electro’s development, look and impact. Giamatti, as The Rhino was fun, too. Although they could have had more of him, with the obvious build-up of Sinister Six, I think we’ll be seeing more of him in the near cinematic future. Overall, these three baddies came off a lot more menacing, intense and challenging for the web-flinging hero. Having been kept busy in many different ways, Spider-man’s heroic smarts were constantly at work.

Gwen Stacey’s involvement in this piece is a lot more appealing. In many ways, she serves as a very important piece to both Peter and Spider-man. Intertwining a woman who’s linked to both a regular person and superhero, stakes are raised in big ways considering Peter’s promise to her father in the first film. The ups and downs we see in the piece between Peter and Gwen drive the film’s dramatic touch. Bouncing back-and-forth from epic battles between good-and-evil, then a battle between boyfriend-and-girlfriend levels the separation between Peter’s ever so complicated inner battle between being a simple man and a hero.

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All of the film’s ties that pertain to Peter’s life are blown up in big ways here. From beginning to end it’s a coaster of emotional noise and insanity. Marc Webb’s presentation of all characters comes off fair and balanced. Giving us pretty much what we want to see as fans, it’ll be really interesting to see where they go from here. Having Spider-man sequels slated till 2018 means a lot. And it’s great considering where SONY and Marc (granted there are no contractual issues) can go. Raimi’s approach was more in keeping it a bit humanistic in ways that didn’t really reflect over-the-top villains or stories—and that’s fine. As directors, they all have their visions, but Webb’s approach is basically giving it to you straight out of the comics. Yes, some freedoms are taken (fans will notice them), but in the long run, “The Amazing Spider-man 2” and others to come do what they need to do and that’s epically entertain—and for added pleasure, this one has NYC as a whole, rather than the obvious Chicago scenery in Raimi’s versions. Where native NYers like me were like: “Ok, continuity issue. That’s NOT a NYC train and/or outdoor station.”

My only gripe here I think would be some of the rough editing that jumps off the screen with a bit of a bipolar affect and wanting more and a deeper look into The Rhino. But as a whole, I found this one to be a lot more enjoyable than the first. It’s a good piece, it has a great cast, exposes a great story and a great way to start off the upcoming summer flicks.

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Grade: A- / Genre: Sequel, Action/Adventure, Sci-Fi, Drama / Rated: PG-13 / Run Time: 2 Hr. 22 Min.
Starring: Andrew Garfield, Emma Stone, Jamie Foxx, Dane DeHaan, Chris Cooper, Paul Giamatti
Directed by: Marc Webb

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