The Amazing Spider-Man 2 (2014)

Sony seems to be following the plan of Christopher Nolan’s “Batman” movie series, with “Amazing Spider-Man 2” being “The Dark Knight” of the series. Except Sony doesn’t seem to have a clear end in sight for their own flagship franchise. Which may or may not be a good thing. If they keep up the momentum that “The Amazing Spider-Man 2” does, we might be in store for a very complete reboot with a clear cut satisfying evolution of its titular hero. The writers and producers focus very heavily on correcting former director Sam Raimi’s mistakes, and they have pulled it off well. Granted this follow up to the 2012 reboot isn’t perfect, but it’s better than its Raimi predecessor.

Shortly after the first film, Peter Parker has adjusted to his role as Spider-Man, now with a new costume, and a pledge to help out the big guy and the little guy in New York City. This is as close to the original Spider-Man as we get, with an incredibly redesigned costume that’s more faithful to the comic books than any movie incarnation thus far, while Spider-Man is a grade A class clown and smart aleck who drives his villains insane with anger before bringing them down. Peter is still very much spreading himself thin, though, as he’s graduated to high school, and is trying to keep up his relationship with Gwen Stacy and his aunt in the process. To make things worse, he’s still haunted by the death of Gwen’s father, impeding any hopes of moving forward with Gwen as a boyfriend. This creates a very sweet and wrenching friction between them, as Gwen understands Peter’s sense of obligation to the world, but wonders how long he can continue fighting crime before he’s forgiven himself.

“The Amazing Spider-Man 2” is mostly about the women in Peter’s life and how he is complete with them around to keep him grounded and from punishing himself over and over again. When Peter becomes obsessed with discovering a secret left behind by his long lost father, Aunt May (Sally Field steals every scene she’s in) refuses to let Peter ruin his life on what may be a soul shattering find. Gwen on the other hand has also forgiven Peter for her father’s death and demands that he move on with his life, and think about a future outside of New York. The chemistry between Andrew Garfield and Emma Stone is fantastic, as Stone’s wide eyes and down to Earth nature help emphasize the importance Gwen’s character has on Peter’s life. Peter is lost without Gwen and May, and they help fuel the Spider-Man, for better and for worse. Much of the sequel is hell bent on propping up future story lines, and building on the overall arc of the series involving the new Green Goblin, and his plan to assemble the ultimate super villain team.

Otherwise known as Sinister Six. This is primarily a good and terrible aspect for “The Amazing Spider-Man 2” since most of the villainous entities within the film are only there for foreshadowing and never quite feel like interesting plot elements that pose a valid threat to Spider-Man at the moment. Even the creation of Electro is primarily just used as a means of introducing the new Green Goblin. This creates a severely lethargic middle point where the villains mainly nod and wink to one another as if they’re aware this is only the first part of the bigger confrontation to come. That said, “The Amazing Spider-Man 2” really centers on the awe inspiring heroism behind Spider-Man, who is the underdog friendly neighborhood good guy with some amazing super powers.

Director Marc Webb places great emphases on Spider-Man’s powers and ingenuity, slowing down most of the fight scenes and action set pieces to show how Spidey is always thinking, even when he’s fleeing from a deadly menace like Electro. Andrew Garfield gives Peter a very welcome empathy and humanity that perfectly transforms him in to a long suffering superhero who is thankfully never a sad sack. His life is filled with ghosts, and he has no choice but to put on the mask and keep fighting the good fight. Dane DeHaan is also fantastic as Harry Osborne, a very slimy but complex villain whose life parallels Peter’s own, except with an obsession on his own father that becomes the bane of his existence. “The Amazing Spider-Man 2” is a huge step up from the first film, and makes very admirable headway in advancing on and expanding Spider-Man’s mythology, while widening the scope of the series gradually. It’s a very good follow-up in what is probably the best cinematic version of the web head to date.