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FILM REVIEW: “The Amazing Spider-Man 2”

Columbia Pictures, Marvel Enterprises, Avi Arad Productions, Matt Tolmach Productions
Starring Andrew Garfield, Emma Stone, Jamie Foxx, Dane DeHaan, Paul Giamatti, Sally Field, Chris Cooper, Felicity Jones, B.J. Novak, Colm Feore, and Dennis Leary
Directed by Mark Webb

Philippine Release Date: April 30, 2014
Runtime: 142 minutes (2 hours 22 minutes)
MTRCB Rating: PG

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Given all of the characters, events, and elements that the filmmakers saw fit for inclusion in “The Amazing Spider-Man 2,” it’s actually quite surprising that the follow-up to the 2012 Spider-Man film reboot not only avoids becoming an overcrowded mess, but also measures up to what many people consider as the gold standard for Spider-Man films, Sam Raimi’s “Spider-Man 2.”

When we last saw Peter Parker (Andrew Garfield), he was still sporting a costume that made him look like a cross between a ballerina and a basketball. Events in the Amazing Spider-Man Cinematic Infinite Comic tie-in, which bridges the gap between “The Amazing Spider-Man” and the sequel, led him to design a new costume, which looks much closer to the one we’ve known for 50 years. Note that this isn’t really touched upon in “The Amazing Spider-Man 2,” and while it would have been great to see them deal with Spidey’s makeover at some point in the film, it’s not really a must. Seeing as there’s a whole lot of other things the movie needed to focus on (and that Captain America and Thor can change costumes between films without focusing on the “why”), maybe it’s for the best.

“The Amazing Spider-Man 2” features multiple villains, which was one of the things that worried fans when the film was still in its development stages. A new and dangerous threat shocks the city this time around, as Oscorp employee and social outcast Max Dillon (Jamie Foxx) figures in a freak accident and transforms into the power-mad Electro. Childhood memories come flooding back to Peter as his old friend Harry Osborn (Dane DeHaan, who was one of the best actors in the film) comes back to town, triggering a chain of events that soon spell trouble for the webslinger. Yes, Aleksei Sytsevich (Paul Giamatti) a.k.a. the Rhino is in this film, but it’s Electro and Osborn (wearing a familiar and sinister grin) who bedevil the wall-crawler for the majority of the movie.

Be assured, however, that “The Amazing Spider-Man 2” is certainly no “Batman and Robin.” Introductions and motivations are established clearly and handled with care, if not perfectly. The fight scenes are expertly choreographed (an absolute requirement for a character like Spider-Man) and the special effects are electrifying, and while there ARE a few lapses that might be distracting for some viewers, the movie more than makes up for them through its spectacular showcase of Spider-Man’s speed, agility, and sensational spider-powers.

Every Spider-Man fan knows that the friendly neighborhood superhero is well-known for his sense of humor (or rather, his somewhat annoying tendency to become a non-stop quip machine), and this is one of the aspects where “The Amazing Spider-Man 2” outshines every other Spidey film before it. “Spider-Man comic book come to life” would perhaps be the best way to describe this movie. There are no words to adequately express how happy I was to see the Spider-Man I grew up reading about done right in live-action, from his costume and acrobatics to his scientific prowess and quick wit.

However, the true centerpiece of the film is the beautiful yet tragic relationship between Peter Parker and Gwen Stacy (Emma Stone). Everyone who saw the previous installment would agree that a magnificent and very real chemistry really does exist between Andrew’s Peter and Emma’s Gwen – a chemistry that was sadly absent from the original Spidey trilogy. Despite the fact that the spectre of Gwen’s father’s death continues to loom over the two lovers, they care deeply enough for each other to never truly be able to let go.

Ultimately, the film succeeds as two things: an entertaining and action-packed sequel featuring one of fiction’s greatest characters, and a rich universe from which “Venom,” “Sinister Six,” and more films under the Spider-Man umbrella can spring forth in the future.

Spider-Man has never been this Amazing on the silver screen.

(There’s a rather spoilery secret hidden here, by the way – try taking the first letter of every sentence in this review, including this one.)

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(Reviewed by Mikael Angelo Francisco)

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