Critical consensus seems to have come down firmly against “The Amazing Spider-Man 2,” which I don't really understand. Particularly when they say it's not as good as Sam Raimi's movies. Sure, I found his version of the wall-crawler to be cheesy and corny. But cheesy plots, especially for a comic book movie, are nothing new, and at times it was somewhat enjoyable. But Raimi's franchise could make you gag on cheese, and the movies' plots weren't merely by the numbers; you could actually predict them with your eyes shut. Was the villain just bad enough to cause trouble but not enough make people truly uncomfortable or threatening? Check. Did they die through no fault of Spidey's? Check. Oh, and my favorite...is Mary Jane going to do absolutely nothing AND get captured? Check again. Seriously, remember when she tried to hit Doc Ock on the head with a piece of wood and she couldn't even manage that? Jesus.
But “The Amazing Spider-Man 2” is not only good in comparison with Raimi's vision, it actually manages to be good on its own terms too. It has depth, wit, and a love interest who is a highly intelligent, competent, budding scientist in her own right, and who is actually useful. There's also a good backstory that involves Parker's father, Oscorp, and its CEO Norman Osborn. In other words? This is the kind of Spider-Man I've been waiting for.
The movie finds him still fighting the good fight in NYC, saving everyone he can, and even stopping to offer encouragements to some. One such rescuee just happens to be Oscorp employee Max Dillon (Jamie Foxx, who is actually VERY good at playing awkward). He's a nerdy, isolated, and very lonely man who develops an obsession with Spider-Man after he saves his life. Soon after, he just happens to have an electrical accident after-hours at Oscorp, turning him into the villain Electro. And his transition from longing, pitiable, and worshipful to angry, corrupt, and heartless is done a lot better than the abrupt flips in Raimi's version.
But he has a little help from Peter's childhood friend Norman Osborn (Dane DeHaan of “Chronicle” and “The Place Beyond The Pines”). He's back in town after his father passes, and finds he's inherited his company and the disease that killed him. But he thinks that Spider-Man's blood may be able to cure him.
Of course, this soon means war...or at least a showdown with high stakes for the city, as well as some very hefty emotional ones for Peter. Not to mention tons of supervillains that “The Amazing Spider-Man 2” sets up. (Hoping it'll be kind of like an evil Avengers thing. Sinister Six, anyone?)
That's not to say there aren't a few plot holes. Why can't Peter study his blood somewhere else with equipment provided by Oscorp or something? What about the Daily Bugle? Peter is still selling photos of Spider-Man to them. Can't we see any of that? And shouldn't he have gotten over the whole dating Gwen Stacy anyway thing? And why didn't they use more of the hugely talented and almost unrecognizable Paul Giamatti?
But there's just too much fun to be had here. Peter and Gwen are actually interesting, fun, and adorable to watch, have great dialogue to work with, great chemistry (evidenced by the fact that they're dating in real life) and they have great talent to work with in the supporting cast.
And of course, the action scenes are incredible. Spidey of course does the usual web-slinging, but it's also a marvel as he swings through his high-tech environments, dodging the electrical blasts, various supervillain weapons, or just plain bullets, while also incorporating his premonitory spider-sense, is just breathtaking. So frankly, I'll take THIS franchise, plot holes and all.