Reviewed by: Raphael Vera
spiders in the Bible
Andrew Garfield … Spider-Man / Peter Parker
Emma Stone … Gwen Stacy
Jamie Foxx … Electro / Max Dillon
Felicity Jones … Felicia
Paul Giamatti … Aleksei Sytsevich
Sally Field … Aunt May
Dane DeHaan … Green Goblin / Harry Osborn
Colm Feore … Donald Menken
Embeth Davidtz … Mary Parker
Campbell Scott … Richard Parker
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Avi Arad Productions
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|Distributor||Columbia Pictures, a division of Sony Pictures|
In 2012’s “The Amazing Spider-Man” young Peter Parker’s parents, Richard and Mary, seemingly abandon him when they leave him with his aunt and uncle in the dead of night. The mystery as to why they did this has haunted Peter all his life. Spider-Man 2 begins by revealing some of the events from that night years ago, as we see Richard and Mary Parker trying only to protect Peter while fleeing for their lives.
Today, Peter (Andrew Garfield) is Spider-Man, and the false bravado of his early career has been replaced by the supreme confidence and humor he displays whether he is fighting crime or kissing his girlfriend Gwen Stacy (Emma Stone) center stage at their high school graduation. Yet, even on that momentous day, the specter of Gwen’s dad haunts him, reminding him that the only way to keep her safe is by staying away from her.
Harry Osborn (Dane DeHaan) was Peter’s best friend when Peter first lost his parents and has only just returned to New York to assume control of his father’s company. Soon, desperate circumstances drive him to seek Spider-Man’s help, , and he is determined to get it, even if he must make an alliance with a villain.
Max Dillon (Jamie Foxx) works at Oscorp, but he has no friends, and he lives a delusional life, even believing Spider-Man is his best friend. There is an anger in this sad, confused man that is only tempered by his low self-esteem. This all changes soon after an accident at Oscorp turns him into the super villain Electro—eventually leading to the ultimate confrontation between him and his one-time idol.
The movie splits its time between dealing with Gwen and Peter’s on-again, off-again relationship, Harry Osborn’s desperate pursuit to fight his destiny and the introduction of an iconic comic book villain just coming to terms with his own godlike (his words not mine) powers. The battles starring Electro are visually one of the most impressive to hit the big screen, but any film is the sum of all its parts, and it’s the other components that keep Spider-Man 2 from reaching it’s full potential. There are both positive and less than positive things that should be explored, so let’s begin with how the film got it’s PG-13 rating.
Language: Mild. Only twice is the Lord’s name taken in vain, and only in the forms of “Oh God” and “God No”. In another scene, Max, in reference to his powers says, “I will be like a god.” No other profanity was noticeable, unless perhaps as spoken by a Russian hijacker, which makes this the cleanest PG-13 film I have heard in a very long time.
Violence: Heavy. There is a great deal of gun play, including machine gun fire and short range missiles, but only once do we see someone shot and killed. A mostly bloodless film, enough is shown in two cases to confirm that the injuries are fatal. There is close hand-to-hand mortal combat, a plane is seen about to crash, and many vehicles, both police and civilian, are destroyed during chases and street scenes. Billboards and parts of buildings are destroyed, and it is assumed people are hurt from the widespread falling debris.
The accident which transforms Max leaves him initially nothing more than a charred husk of a man, and he, in fact, appears dead. Guards are seared and killed by electric shock, and one man is tortured before his inevitable, though unseen, demise. Electric eels viciously attack a man who has fallen into their tank, and someone’s neck is broken. These examples, along with the others cited, make this wholly unsuitable for small children, although I saw plenty of them on opening night. Imagery of this nature has been proven to affect a child’s psyche, and I strongly urge parents to seriously consider this warning.
Sex/Nudity: Mild. The kisses Peter and Gwen share are passionate and heartfelt but never go over the line and are always in public. Peter is seen removing the top of his costume baring his chest after a night of fighting crime.
The comic book genre is known for containing morality lessons, and this movie had a few of its own. Peter is determined to learn the truth about his parents, and his steadfastness in following the few clues his father left behind finally lead him to uncover it. The Bible speaks of the value of truth and its benefits as though it was a precious commodity, and, in fact, it is!
Even before Max becomes a villain, he is already suffering from what appears to be a type of Dissociative Personality Disorder. His self-centeredness and inability to show empathy for others conflicts tragically with his desperate need to be noticed and needed by anyone. Add to that the other ‘voices’ that engage him, and it becomes clear he is in dire need of a cohesive single identity—an identity such as the one we can all take on if we only believe in God’s only Son, as it is written in The Word.
“I will be a Father to you, and you will be my sons and daughters, says the Lord Almighty.” —2 Corinthians 6:18
Perhaps the film’s most powerful words come from Gwen herself during her graduation speech when she says, “Fight for what matters to you, no matter what. For even if we fall short, what better way is there to live?” I was so very much reminded of the encouragement the apostle Paul had for Timothy, and in turn, for all of us when he said,
Director Marc Webb includes several nods to fans of the comics with both the characterization and imagery, some eerily so, as when Harry and Peter are discussing Gwen in sight of the Brooklyn Bridge, as well as nods to sci-fi fans who may appreciate the fleeting references to “2001: A Space Odyssey” (musically) and “Star Trek” (1701 license plate).
Moviegoers, however, would have benefited more by some judicious editing of the movie’s length (i.e., Peter’s discovery of his dad’s work could have been much earlier) and by tightening of the film’s focus, which came off as disjointed. Lastly, Jamie Foxx himself may have been tipping his hat off to Arnold Schwarzenegger by the use of so many one-liners (as Electro) that frankly felt contrived.
“The Amazing Spider-Man 2” is an uneven effort that will at times thrill and then bore audiences, as they wait for the plot to move forward. Despite a very emotionally charged last act, this is a sequel that does not live up to it’s finer honed predecessor. I still recommend seeing it, as long as you manage your expectations and leave the smaller kids at home.
Violence: Heavy / Profanity: Mild / Sex/Nudity: Mild
See list of Relevant Issues—questions-and-answers.