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Actual rating 3.5 stars, but I'm being generous and rounding up to a full 4.
I watched The Amazing Spider-Man 2 for the first time this Thursday. I planned to go see it in theaters, but was unable to so a friend and I watched the dvd together. My friend, a fan of Spider-Man, had already watched the dvd several times and already knew what was coming. Either way we both enjoyed watching it on a nice big tv with the volume turned way up for the best experience!
In this installment, Peter learns more about his mother and father, graduates from high school, contemplates the future of his relationship with Gwen, and, of course, uses his web-slinging acrobatic abilities to fight crime. The villains this time around are the Aleksei Sytsevich/ Rhino (Paul Giamatti), Max Dillon/ Electro (Jamie Foxx), and Harry Osborn/ the Green Goblin (Dane DeHaan).
Of the three, Foxx gets the most screen time as we see his character transform into Electro and become the villain. Giamatti's part is mostly a cameo in the opening, but then he returns later, too. Let's just say that in terms of the Rhino, he sure gets a kick out of what he does! Of the new faces in this film, Dane DeHaan is the one to keep your eyes on because he is very good at what he does (if you haven't seen Chronicle, you're missing out). I will be watching for future roles for this great young actor. In this movie, his version of Harry/ Green Goblin is quite different than James Franco's in the original Spider-Man movies. I wish he had more screen time as the Green Goblin, though, and by the end he seemed to get off a little too easy after everything.
I also really appreciate the two leads, Andrew Garfield and Emma Stone. Has anyone else seen Never Let Me Go with Andrew Garfield, Carey Mulligan, and Keira Knightley, or, Easy A, The Help, or Zombieland with Emma Stone? As much as I appreciate their talents I was kind of disappointed in Gwen's character here (*sniff*)...for someone who is supposed to be so smart she makes some pretty dumb decisions and reacts to some things in ways that boggle my mind, but I can appreciate that she wants to be able to make her own decisions. In regards to Garfield's version of Spider-Man, I do like the sense of humor, and I did like the redesign of the suit.
As for other technical aspects, the visuals are excellent - the movie looks great - and I enjoyed the soundtrack more than I initially expected to. Stylistically, it sounded a bit different than the previous film, with more dubstep and by a different composer. I was actually really (pleasantly) surprised to see the movie is actually scored by Hans Zimmer, as it has such a different sound than what I've come to expect from him. Whatever the case, the soundtrack ended up working really well with the action and overall tone of the movie. One of my points of contention is the pacing of the movie, I mean I like that we get to see a good deal of Peter, but sometimes I could feel more of the 142 minutes in comparison to the 136 of the first movie. There were a few other technical details we discussed while watching the movie that confused us as to how this or that worked or little criticisms here and there.
Overall, I enjoyed this addition to the Spider-Man movies, but it wasn't my favorite (that honor still goes to Spider-Man 2 with Tobey Maguire and Alfred Molina). Don't forget to keep your eyes open for Stan Lee's cameo early on in this movie!