The Amazing Spider-Man 2 (PG-13)
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This is, obviously, the sequel to The Amazing Spider-Man. It was released in 2014, but I didn't see it until 2017. It was supposed to be the first of several sequels in this (the second) Spider-Man franchise, but ended up being the only one. Subsequently, a new Spider-Man was introduced into the Marvel Cinematic Universe. I'm watching this movie on the day that Spider-Man: Homecoming (the first movie in the third Spider-Man franchise) opened in theaters. I had heard that this, the second "Amazing Spider-Man" movie, wasn't as well received, critically, as the first one, so I wasn't sure what to expect. But now that I've seen it, I can say I liked it a lot (mostly). I liked the characters, the drama, the action, the humor, the special effects, the overall story... you know, pretty much everything. Except one thing that happens near the end, which I'm not going to spoil in this review. I hated that thing. But otherwise I thought the movie was pretty awesome. (Although 2 and a half hours is kind of too long.)
Anyway, the movie starts with something that happened years ago, when Peter was six years old. We see what happened to his parents, Richard and Mary, after they left him with Ben and May... so now it's clear that they're dead, though Richard did manage to upload a computer file to someone (or something) called Roosevelt, just before their plane crashed.
In the present, Spider-Man is doing his hero thing, while running late for his and Gwen's high school graduation. Peter finally shows up in time to collect his diploma, but he'd missed Gwen's valedictory address. The two of them are dating, in spite of Peter having promised Gwen's father at the end of the previous movie that he'd stay away from Gwen, to keep her safe from the enemies he would make as Spider-Man. (I guess I didn't spoil in my previous review that Captain Stacy had died in that movie.) So now, Peter's guilt over breaking his promise to him finally overwhelms him. He can't bear to be around the rest of her family (who of course don't know about him being Spider-Man, nor about the promise he'd made). Gwen, quite understandably, is tired of his inability to fully commit to their relationship, so she breaks up with him. Though she does still want to be friends. Throughout the film, it's often unclear whether or not they'll get back together. I feel I've gotta say, Peter gets vaguely stalker-y, which I didn't really like, even if he kinda sorta was trying to "make sure she's safe." But of course, this is a movie, so when Gwen finds out about it, she doesn't seem to find it creepy at all. More like sweet. Because, as I mentioned, this is a movie. Another complication arises when Gwen gets a chance to possibly attend Oxford, which would of course mean moving to England. But I don't want to say how that, or any other aspect of the whole Peter-Gwen story works out, in the end. I do think a good choice was finally made by both of them... but... well, that's all I'll say.
At one point, Spider-Man saves the life of an electrical engineer named Max Dillon (Jamie Foxx), who works at Oscorp. Max is treated poorly by pretty much everyone at work, and he has no friends or family. So this one encounter makes him think he and Spider-Man are now friends, and he begins obsessing over the superhero. (The brief comments Spidey made after rescuing helped fuel that delusion, but he couldn't have predicted how Max would take his words.) Later, Max is forced to stay late at work (on his birthday!) to deal with some electrical problem no one else wanted to help with, since they were all going home on time. While attending to the problem, Max ends up falling into a tank of electric eels that were part of some sort of experiment, and he transforms into a mutant with electrical powers. (As one does, you know.) At first, he just seems to need to absorb electricity to survive, but he can unintentionally cause harm. So eventually Spider-Man has to try to talk him down, but... things get out of hand, and Max starts thinking Spidey betrayed him, and kind of goes nuts. So Spidey then has to capture him, and he's taken to the Ravencroft Institute for the criminally insane, where he's kept restrained and his powers dampened. (And there's a creepy scientist there named Dr. Kafka, who just wants to study him.)
Meanwhile, Peter's childhood friend, Harry Osborn (Dane DeHaan), returns to New York to visit his father, Norman, on his deathbed. Harry had been sent to boarding school when he was eleven, and I'm not sure if he and Peter had seen each other at all since then, but the two of them now reconnect. However, before Norman died, he told Harry that his condition was genetic, and it would soon begin to affect Harry. Upon Norman's death, Harry inherits his father's business empire, though Oscorp's vice president, Donald Menken, eventually frames Harry for the cover-up of Max's earlier accident. Still, Harry does learn about an experiment his and Peters fathers had worked on years ago, involving spiders, which could possibly save his life, if he could finish the work his father had started. But the spiders had all been destroyed, so he decides the only way to save his own life is to get Spider-Man's blood. And since Peter often takes Spidey's picture for the Daily Bugle, he asked him to ask Spider-Man to help. But Peter/Spidey has no idea how his blood would affect Harry... it could help him, but it could also kill him faster, or turn him into a monster like Dr. Connors. So... Spider-Man pays him a visit, and apologizes for being unable to help. But that just makes Harry hate him. And... I'm sure I'm getting this all out of order. But at some point, Harry's assistant, Felicia Hardy (Felicity Jones), tells him that Menken had saved the venom from the spiders before destroying them. So he decides to break back into Oscorp and steal the venom. To do this, he first sneaks into Ravencroft and frees Max (who is now calling himself "Electro") to get his help. Of course, once Harry gets the venom and injects himself with it, he undergoes his own transformation, and becomes the villain we know as the Green Goblin (though I don't think that name was ever used in this movie). He also steals a powered exosuit and glider that Oscorp had developed. (One of the suit's abilities is repairing injuries, so that seems to help supplement whatever healing the venom provided, or at least to heal whatever problems the venom itself had created. I guess.)
So, Spider-Man will have to fight both Green Goblin and Electro (though thankfully not at the same time, and he gets help from Gwen for one of the battles). But first, he makes a discovery concerning his late father's work, which leads him to a video message that we'd seen Richard making (part of) at the start of the movie. Hearing the whole thing, now, explains a lot, and also gives Peter some closure. But I don't want to get into that. And... then there are those battles. And then, for a reason I won't reveal, the movie jumps forward five months, during which time Spider-Man has been absent from New York. Meanwhile, Harry is now imprisoned at Ravencroft, himself. But he has a visitor who makes plans with him. (Vague, yet predictable plans, for fans of Spidey's rogues gallery. Which made me really wish there was going to be a third movie in this franchise, because it would have been awesome.) But one more thing does happen to get Spider-Man to get back to work fighting crime, before the movie ends. So that's nice, I guess....