Your friendly neighborhood Spider-Man swings back into action!

"The Amazing Spider-Man 2"

[box_alert]*** Major Spoilers! ***[/box_alert]

There’s a magic to movie releases and the month of may. It marks the start of big studio tent pole season. More importantly, this is when Comic Book movies have their time in the sun. Our first taste of what’s to come (can’t wait for “Godzilla” and “X-Men: Days of Future Past”) is our red and blue hero Spider-Man.

Unimaginative title aside, “The Amazing Spider-Man 2” is great. It is a most enjoyable film with a good story, acting and fight scenes. Every thing feels balanced. Just as things are slowing down to establish the plot, Spider-Man slings into action and foils some criminals. A big pro of this film is Spider-Man fights a lot of crime. The title of “superhero” can get thrown around too easy. Some characters just have super powers. Spider-Man is a hero, and every day he is out there fighting the good fight (something that is established in a montage early on in the film).

Andrew Garfield is perfect as both Peter Parker and Spidey. He nails the comedic side of Spider-Man, but also shows range with the vulnerable human side of Parker. And who can bring out that human side better than Emma Stone as Gwen Stacy. They have a great chemistry together.

The special effects are just right. Some movies over compensate with too many explosions and debris flying everywhere. Marc Webb kept the focus on the combatants. Key moments in the action tend to benefit from slo-mo effects. Some people might not like this as much, but it worked me. As always with the Spider-Man films, the web slinging through New York sequences are fun.

"The Amazing Spider-Man 2": Villains

You can’t have a superhero movie without superhero costumes. This is one area of the film that fell short for me. Spider-Man’s costume is fine, but the villains? Not so much. With Electro, they really couldn’t follow true to the comics (his suit was a tad over the top). What works in comic books doth not always translate to the medium of film. They did a good job with his skin mutation, but then plopped a black jumpsuit on top. Wish they would have done something that accentuated his skin instead of covering it. Green Goblin wasn’t all that great either. It was just boring body armor. And Rhino’s suit was just too clunky for my liking. Rhino’s did at least resemble a Rhino. In this instance though, I would have enjoyed a more traditional take of the costumes. I’m hoping that in both cases the suits were like this because they were more or less prototypes in the story. Hopefully by the next film the villains can do some modifications. Ya know, give their suits some flair!

I gotta give credit to the sound designers. The subtle muffling of Garfield’s voice when he was wearing the mask was good attention to detail. Something like this could easily be overlooked, and could even be missed by a lot of audience members. I caught it, and it appreciate it. Also, the electric hum added to Jamie Foxx’s voice when he becomes Electro (Too early for spoilers?) worked really well.

Technical stuff aside, let’s spoil some more plot details! We catch up with the web crawler on the eve of his high school graduation. On his way to the ceremony Spidey has to stop some ne’er-do-wells trying to steal from Oscorp. Paul Giamatti makes what is essentially a cameo here, but it’s a tremendous cameo. As always, Spider-Man makes the save and just barely makes it in time to graduate.

"The Amazing Spider-Man 2": Peter Parker and Harry Osborn

The story has a lot of ups and downs. Peter and Gwen are together, break up, get back together. Max Dillon (Jamie Foxx) loves Spider-Man, then wants to kill him. Harry Osborn is friends with Peter Parker, then wants to kill him. Just from an emotional stand point, being a superhero must be taxing.

The Villains are strong in this movie. They are well developed and the way they come together fits the story. It doesn’t at all feel forced or unnecessary (see “Spider-Man 3” and its use of Venom and James Franco’s Goblin). Jamie Foxx and Dane DeHaan do good with their roles. There’s a sympathy to both. Their avoidable falls make them layered.

"The Amazing Spider-Man 2": Gwen Stacy

Remember above when I said this one is dark? Here’s why, Gwen dies. No one who’s ever read a Spider-Man comic will be totally shocked by this. Everyone knows Gwen Stacy is a tragic character. I thought they might have waited until the third movie for this time happen. It’s a rough scene to watch. Gwen falls to her death, Peter does all he can to save her, but one gut wrenching thud is all it takes. Spidey’s reactions from pleading and hoping she is alive, to acceptance shows Garfield’s acting chops. The aftermath of her death is also well done. We see Peter mourning her for months and giving up crime fighting. A large theme throughout the movie is Peter trying to keep away from Gwen, like he promised her father Captain Stacy (Dennis Leary) in the first film, for her safety. Thankfully for everyone, Peter dons red and blue to keep fighting the good fight.

It also appears that the Black Cat is being set up for a future appearance. A helpful Oscorp assistant named Felicia has a small part in the movie. It isn’t specified that she is Felicia Hardy, the Black Cat of the comics, but it has been heavily speculated in the press for some time now. Black Cat would be a perfect follow up to a post-Gwen world for Peter/Spidey. The whole thing with Peter is he can’t let people get close because they could get hurt. Well who better to get close to than another hero who can protect themselves.

Also, random side note when mentioning characters from the comics, J. Jonah Jameson has a splendid little cameo (of sorts), so keep on eye open. It’s quick and more of a reference really, but one I found particularly enjoyable.

"The Amazing Spider-Man 2": Car Catch

This is my favorite Spider-Man film to date. It’s funny, dark and action packed. It concluded some story lines (the Gwen Stacy love story and Peter’s father) whilst setting up the next (Sinister Six). If you’re as excited for the big wave of summer movies coming, this is a great way to start. “The Amazing Spider-Man 2” is well worth your money and will leave you wanting to see where the story goes from here.

Also, don’t worry about hanging around during the credits (well, unless you want to show respect for everyone who worked hard to bring you the movie). If you want a tried and true Marvel post-credits segment to set up another movie, you will be disappointed. All you will see is a small scene from “X-Men: Days of Future Past” (we discussed why this happened on the GeekSmash podcast, if you’re curious). Alas, there is nothing (at least at my viewing) at the tail end of the credits.

"A Million Ways To Die In The West"

Finally, if you would, please allow me a brief moment to gripe about something that happened before the movie actually started. During the coming attractions, there was a trailer for the upcoming Seth MacFarlane directed comedy “A Million Ways to Die in the West.” The movie looks to be very funny. I was into the trailer, but then they went and spoiled something that I think is a very big deal right in the trailer. In the last segment, it showed Seth MacFarlane accidentally happening upon Doc Brown and the DeLorean. Every geek with his water (Dune!) knows what this is alluding to, but why, oh why was this in the trailer!?! That could have been a moment of cameo glory, but now it is spoiled. I didn’t need that to persuade me to go see this movie, the trailer was funny as is without giving away too much. Such a shame, that joke was wasted. This is why I try to avoid trailers. Anyway…

Did you enjoy watching the Web Slinger do his thing? What are your thoughts on where the story is potentially headed? Share your thoughts in the comments section below.

-By Jeff Kaminski