Spider-Man has always been my favourite superhero. His cheeky persona, tragic backstory built with gritty realism and likeable love interests were a great formula, especially when combined with eclectic villains and some of the best superpowers out there – who doesn’t want to swing around New York City?
So obviously The Amazing Spider-Man 2 was one of my most anticipated films of this year, but that doesn’t mean I’m totally forgiving. I can recognise flaws in all of the past films, including the weird use of The Lizard in the last one, and Tobey Maguire’s emo moment in the third instalment of the original trilogy.
But I genuinely think this one is the best yet. We follow Peter Parker (a pitch-perfect Andrew Garfield) through his complicated relationship with Gwen Stacy (an equally brilliant Emma Stone) while New York’s power is threatened by yet another guy who had an accident at Oscorp, Max Dillon aka Electro (Jamie Foxx).
The casting is as fresh as it was in the first, with the central pair making you care more about a superhero’s love life than ever before. Their rapport and chemistry makes quiet moments, often the dull parts of an action movie, just as interesting as anything else. Dane DeHaan as Harry Osborn is delightfully creepy, and Jamie Foxx touches on a whole spectrum of emotion, going from being a pitiful loner to angry and unforgiving.
Some feared that this would suffer the same overloaded fate as Spider-Man 3, which tried to focus on too many villains, but this one gets the timing right. The Rhino, as seen in the trailers, is mostly only used to move the story on and tease what is coming next. The Green Goblin in his final form is shown relatively briefly but to great effect.
The focus is on Electro, who is a great villain to challenge Spidey and get Gwen and Peter to show off their scientific knowledge in a final act action sequence that is one of the best around for various reasons that shouldn’t be spoiled – but it’s just as impactful if you know what’s coming.
The mess of the first reboot film is also sorted out, and we finally discover what they were getting at in terms of Peter’s parents. Thankfully, it’s actually worth the wait and is an interesting way to go, although that doesn’t mean we should totally forgive the first film for what it did wrong here.
For a superhero whose films have been blighted with missed opportunities, imperfect castings and sloppy scripts in the past, it seems like Marc Webb has finally taken Peter to the top.