Peter Parker can’t seem to catch a break. He’s constantly hunted by powerful villains, battling inner turmoil, and working through typical teenage angst, all while trying to solve the mystery of his parents’ death. Unfortunately, he has to add “surviving a mediocre Blu-Ray release” to his long list of life struggles.
In director Marc Webb’s second installment of the retooled franchise, The Amazing Spider-Man 2, Peter Parker, A.K.A. Spider-Man (played astonishingly well by Andrew Garfield), once again finds himself struggling to maintain a balance in both this super-hero and alter ego lives. Hit the jump for my The Amazing Spider-Man 2 Blu-ray review.
While donning his costume, he batters his body against Russian mobsters, which inevitably takes a toll on his relationship with girlfriend Gwen Stacy (Emma Stone), who is struggling to find a place in Peter’s life. This balance becomes even more unsettled when under-appreciated scientist Max Dillon (Jamie Foxx) turns from Spider-Man’s biggest fan into his worst enemy, and from a human being into an energy being capable of unparalleled destruction. If that wasn’t enough to derail Peter’s life, Harry Osborn (Dane Dehaan) enters the picture to rekindle their long-lost friendship and ask Peter for a large favor that could reveal his identity. Aleksei Sytsevich (Paul Giamatti) is also in there causing mischief.
As the previous paragraph might allude to, there’s quite a bit going on Spidey’s latest flick. Too much, in fact. Instead of feeling like the next chapter in the iconic super-hero’s life, it feels like a hodgepodge of ideas thrown together to set up the upcoming Sinister Six film. Peter obviously gets the majority of screen time, but his journey through early adult life is constantly interrupted by villain sub-plots, less-than-subtle Sinister Six hints, and unproductive scenes of self-reflection. Though Paul Giamatti does give quite a fun, although brief, performance, his inclusion in the film is only an awkward addition to the already crammed 104 minutes. Much like Peter’s life, the film is a cluttered, disorganized mess.
Luckily, Peter and Gwen’s chemistry does a pretty superb job of keeping the audience invested in their lives. Emma Stone and Andrew Garfield’s on-screen relationship is a force on its own, tugging on the audience’s heart strings, drawing happy smiles and sad tears throughout. One could speculate that the couple’s real-life relationship feeds into their ability to portray an emotionally invested pair, but whatever the reason, their romantic highs and lows not only look real, but inspire real emotions in the viewers. When Gwen confesses to Peter that she may be moving to attend an illustrious university, Peter’s heartbroken response, and subsequent struggle to cope, begs those watching to reach into the screen, give him a hug, and tell him to go after his love. And I dare anyone watching the movie to maintain a tear-free face before the credits roll. It won’t happen.
In fact, the entire cast does a stupendous job giving weight to their comic-born characters. Garfield’s Peter Parker is spot on, giving the character a perfect mix of wise-cracking teenager and burdened hero, something Toby Maguire’s take on the roll never quite accomplished. Jamie Foxx’s performance is also a bit of a masterpiece itself; his downtrodden demeanor and traumatic transformation never feel hokey or forced, but come out naturally, all due to Foxx’s superb acting abilities. As Gwen, Emma Stone gives audiences a strong, intelligent young woman that, instead of needing constant protection, refuses to shy away from dangerous situations.
But no matter what, this is a super-hero movie, which, of course, means over-the-top fight scenes set ablaze with computer-generated effects, and The Amazing Spider-Man 2 certainly delivers. In Peter’s first encounter with the recently transformed Dillon takes place in Time Square, where the electricity wielding villain blasts buildings and police cars in dazzling fashion. Even Dillon’s incandescent form is fairly impressive from an effects standpoint, and really gives the film a truly awe-inducing villain that previous films lacked. The highlight portion is by far the battle at the Oscorp power plant, where the camera crew takes the viewers on a roller coaster ride of twists and angles, all while two powerful beings battle one another and blow things.
If Marc Webb is to be given credit for anything, he should receive a strong pat on the back for knowing that the deleted scenes needed a good kick out of the film. The Blu-Ray special features include a dozen or so scenes that, while interesting on their own merit, would have only further confused the script, In particular, the alternate ending clip where Peter has a run in with his father. The dialogue is quite cheesy, and leaves audiences asking, “Seriously? “Dead” for that many years, and that’s all you have to say?” The rest do even less to clean up the story, and can be skipped without hesitation.
Along with the deleted scenes, the Blu-Ray also includes the typical disc special features, including director commentary, a documentary detailing the film’s production, and the music video for It’s On Again by Alicia Keys, which, although somewhat entertaining, is a bit out of place on a movie disc, and will probably never be watched more than once.
Though definitely a grade above the typical super-hero flick, The Amazing Spider-Man 2 battles to find a clear, concise story within its crammed script. Sadly, the web-slinger’s return to Blu-Ray, much like the 2014 theatrical release itself, is a mix of triumphant moments, and less-than-stellar content.
Movie: B-, Disc: B-