And the award for bravest climax to a summer blockbuster goes to: Director Marc (500 Days of Summer, The Amazing Spider-Man) Webb. Re-teaming with the stars from the first film, this sequel is bold enough not only to take its viewers to a comic book world, but fully embrace it as not a possibility, but a full-blown reality. There are plenty of Easter eggs for comic book fanatics, but there are enough unique fight scenes for any action fan. And, of course, there is the recapturing of the lightning in a bottle that was the chemistry between its two lead actors: Andrew (Never Let Me Go, The Social Network) Garfield and Emma (The Help, Crazy Stupid Love) Stone. Their off-screen romance certainly doesn't hurt the believable factor of their characters.
Added star power comes in the form of Sally (Brothers & Sisters, Eye for an Eye) Field as the loving and not-overshadowed-this-time Aunt May, Campbell (Damages, Royal Pains) Scott and Embeth (Army of Darkness, Paranoia) Davidtz as the ill-fated Parkers, Colm (24, Storm of the Century) Feore as the backstabbing assistant to the Osborns, Dane (The Place Beyond the Pines, Chronicle) DeHaan as Peter's best friend and would-be villain, Harry Osborn, Jamie (Ray, Collateral) Foxx as worthless-nobody-turned-super-powered-but-still-crazy-somebody, Electro, Michael (The Crow, Se7en) Massee as the mysterious Gentleman, B. J. (The Office, Saving Mr. Banks) Novak as sniveling Oscorp employee Alistair Smythe, Marton (The Bourne Supremacy, The Debt) Csokas as the amoral Dr. Kafka, Paul (Sideways, Lady in the Water) Giamatti as the low-level and limited intelligence powerhouse, the Rhino, and Felicity (Like Crazy, The Tempest) Jones as Felicia, the high-ranking secretary who comic fans will know is destined for much more. Not to mention a brief but powerful performance by Chris (Adaptation, American Beauty) Cooper as the villainous Norman Osborn.
But despite the huge cast and lengthy run time, the only error in this film is the fact that Jamie Foxx is horribly miscast and written almost in the vein of a 1960s episode of the old Batman TV show. This would be fine if the film were a campy kids movie, but unfortunately, it is not. It is very adult. The themes and decisions of its characters are very final. And the climax is altogether brutal. Some fans of the previous Sam Raimi Spider-Man trilogy complain that the "Parker luck" is far too present in this new franchise. But true fans will be able to overlook the darkness and realize that though the surroundings and the scenarios may not be happy-go-lucky or even altogether bright in nature, its title hero will always overcome and will always do the right thing. No matter the cost, even if it ends up being personal. It would be safe to say that this film, even though it is still a Marvel Comics property, is really not for kids. The character study of both Peter Parker and Harry Osborn are interesting and the setup for the inevitable onslaught of sequels is a fun distraction, but it's the final act, something with which most comic book movies fall flat, that really separates this from what a "good" or "entertaining" summer blockbuster is expected to deliver and what a "daring" or even "heartfelt" drama leaves its audience's jaws dropped and eyes watery. Don't expect a happy ending. Expect the one that would really happen. Andrew Garfield is absolutely perfect for a second time. And no matter the movie's flaws, everyone has to agree that he truly has what it takes to make this movie believable.