The last 10 or so minutes of The Amazing Spider-Man 2 isn't just amazing, it's absolutely incredibly well crafted and executed. It brought the movie to a closure with genuinely stirring emotion, in what is quite possibly the absolute best ending I've ever seen in a superhero movie. It's just a bit of a shame that everything prior to this pivotal moment doesn't even come close to matching this level of quality.
This movie's biggest problem really was that it just tried to do way too much. And I gathered as much from the trailers, which made this out to be a complete train wreck of a movie. Well, I'm happy to say that, while still a bit messy, this movie is hardly a total disaster, but at two and a half hours, there was far too much going on, and far too much of it just does not work at all.
The worst offender would have to be the whole plot revolving around Peter's parents. None of this is from the source material, mind you, but that's not the issue here. If this plot was still actually well handled, then it being an original idea for this Spider-Man universe wouldn't be a problem at all. But the thing about it is, is that it completely changes the idea of what Spider-Man is supposed to represent, which is a big issue.
This whole storyline makes the series of events within this universe way too convenient, way too coincidental, and ties things together way too tightly. But where as other tightly woven narratives can do so in a seamless fashion, this one is left in knots, and goes so far that it stretches believability, even within the confines of this sort of movie. Every moment involving the mystery behind Peter's parents dragged this movie down, and left me wishing that this series just never even attempted to touch the subject. Even back with the first movie I saw this new addition being a problem, but it's never more problematic than it is here.
This movie is also attempting to set up a Sinister Six scenario moving forward, and as such, there's a number of villains here, and even more hinted at for future installments. The main bads are Jamie Foxx's Electro (who apparently plucked his name from the same strange place in a galaxy far far away that Darth Sidious came us with Vader's moniker. There's a reason that villains typically don't name themselves in these kinda movies, because it just comes off as silly, as is the case here), who's actually an interesting and humorous character before he undergoes the transformation.
And we're also introduced to Harry Osborn, played by Dane DeHaan, who I have mixed feelings about. At first, his acting comes off as really awkward and forced, especially his earlier scenes with Peter. And not only that, but I found the character's inclusion here strained a bit by the fact that, at no point in the first movie was he ever even referenced to in passing. He's supposed to be an old friend from Peter's past, and yet, despite all the stuff Peter was doing with Oscorp and what have you in the first, at no point does Harry come to mind? As a result, their scenes together feel like they're trying to overcompensate for this blunder a little too much. However, as the movie progresses and Harry goes full blown villain, DeHaan's acting chops that he's shown in other movies did come to light, and he even showed shades of Leonardo DiCaprio during some of his more intense scenes.
But there are other elements at play here, and like I said, this movie is a really long one that tries to do a lot, and there are certainly moments when it does try to do too much. Such as, for example, during the final big action scene, there's a side plot that we keep cutting away to involving two airplanes that are about to crash into one another. Except, Spidey's entirely unaware of this scenario, and remains so even as it becomes resolved. This was an instance of the movie trying to add in a false sense of tension, which ordinarily wouldn't be too bad of a thing, but in this movie that's already way too long as it is, its inclusion really only serves to unnecessarily drag things out even further.
And I suppose I could go on about how the action scenes were mostly forgettable, and the shots of Spidey swinging through the city feel over-done this time around, no longer carrying with them that exhilarating feelings that they once had. Not to mention how cheesy the Green Goblin himself is once he shows up. But enough about the bad, I wanna talk about what this movie did right, because when it comes down to it, I actually did mostly like this movie.
Andrew Garfield continues to deliver as Peter Parker/Spider-Man, and there were a number of scenes that just slayed me. Like, cartoony scenes when he goes to a convenient store in his Spidey suit and tries to say his name with a cold, or when he hoses down Electro while wearing a fireman's helmet. Plus, just the way he carries himself, I've really come to dig this interpretation of the Spider-Man character.
But where this movie works most is when Peter and Gwen are on the screen together. Their story is the core to this thing, and, especially in hindsight, I really do wish that their tangled web of a love story wasn't quite so tangled up with the rest of the crap going on all around them. And now here's where I gotta get into some spoiler territory, so...
... Spidey spoilers: Gwen Stacy dies. And yeah, I saw it coming from a mile away, as will anyone who is even vaguely up to speed on Spidey lore. After Ben Parker's death, I'm not sure there's a single more pivotal moment in Spidey history than Gwen Stacy dying, and this moment was done great justice in this movie. From the moment the Green Goblin lets Stacy fall, this movie jumped from being merely okay, to being absolutely incredible. The scene of her death was stunning, and the emotional overflow was genuinely stirring.
And the aftermath, as Peter grieves over her death and learns to move on, learns to keep on living, was all simply perfect. I loved every minute of this, and thinking about it now continues to give me chills. If nothing else in this movie quite worked, this is one aspect that absolutely did, and is really what saves this whole movie, and holds me back from giving this thing a harsher review.
So yeah, I had quite a few thoughts on this movie, some bad, some good, but when it's all said and done, it evens out to being pretty much just an okay movie. However, if solely for the last 10 or so minutes alone, I'd highly recommend checking this thing out. It's too bad the rest of the movie couldn't have been nearly so good, but things couldn't have ended on a higher note.