A lot or a little?
The parents' guide to what's in this movie.
What parents need to know
Parents need to know that The Amazing Spider-Man 2, starring Andrew Garfield and Emma Stone, is the second movie in the latest Spider-Man franchise and will appeal to superhero-loving tweens and teens. Like most superhero-based action flicks, there's lots of city-wide violence and destruction of property (some of which is notably more intense when viewed in 3-D). While the crash-and-bang scenes may not scare experienced movie-going kids, there are some emotional deaths that are sad and upsetting for all ages, particularly to anyone who isn't familiar with the Spidey storyline. There's no drinking or sex to speak of (although Garfield and Stone have a strong chemistry that translates into a few passionate kisses) and very little language ("damn," "hell," etc.), so if your teen or mature tween Webslinger fan can handle the violence, they should be ready for this latest adventure.
What's the story?
THE AMAZING SPIDER-MAN 2 starts off with the real back story of how Peter Parker's parents died. Then we fast forward to the day of Peter (Andrew Garfield) and Gwen Stacy's (Emma Stone) graduation from high school. As Spider-Man, Peter is off saving New Yorkers and nearly misses receiving his diploma. He can't stop imagining Gwen's dead dad, pleading with him not to involve Gwen in his dangerous superhero endeavors. So Peter uncharacteristically (for this Spidey) finds himself brooding about his relationship with Gwen and wondering about the circumstances surrounding his father's death, while living with his stressed and widowed Aunt May (Sally Field). On top of his emotional turmoil, Peter also has to deal with old friend Harry Osborn (Dane DeHaan), who's returned to Manhattan to inherit Oscorp, as well as super villain Electro (Jamie Foxx), who's powered by electricity and wants to destroy Spider-Man. Peter just wants to learn the truth about his parents and be with Gwen, but there are too many complications, threats, and people to protect.
Is it any good?
With the exception of Garfield's humor and his chemistry with Stone, this sequel doesn't hold a web string to Spider-Man 2. Many off-screen couples can't translate their personal relationship into on-screen chemistry, but real-life sweethearts Garfield and Stone are sizzling on camera, making the romantic subplot of this Spider-Man sequel the best reason to see the movie. That may sound heretical to some loyal superhero-movie fans, particularly tween boys, who -- like Fred Savage in The Princess Bride -- would rather skip all the kissing parts. But the truth is that this wise-cracking, canonical Spider-Man is at his most lovable when he's with the women he loves: clever girlfriend Gwen and devoted Aunt May. There are a few scenes between Peter and these supportive, loving women that are so evocative and touching that viewers may even get teary eyed.
But audiences watching The Amazing Spider-Man 2 for action, adventure, and intrigue may be less impressed. The multiple villain issue isn't new, but the plot is a clunky mess between the Oscorp conspiracy the senior Parkers were part of, the shallow hatred of Electro (who's more of a needy introvert with new powers than a maniacal evil genius), and the whole sick Harry subplots. Garfield is a decidedly funnier and more confident Spider-Man than his predecessor Tobey Maguire, though.
Talk to your kids about ...
Families can talk about the amount of violence in superhero movies like The Amazing Spider-Man 2. How does the fact that much of it is larger than life affect its impact? How is it different watching super villains get hurt than regular people?
How does this film compare to other superhero stories? Do you prefer hero movies with just one star, or do you like bigger groups (a la The Avengers)?
Compare the movie to the comic books. Is it faithful to the story as depicted in the comics? Were you surprised about certain developments?
- In theaters: May 2, 2014
- On DVD or streaming: August 19, 2014
- Cast: Andrew Garfield, Emma Stone, Jamie Foxx
- Director: Marc Webb
- Studios: Columbia Pictures, Sony Pictures Releasing
- Genre: Action/Adventure
- Topics: Superheroes
- Run time: 142 minutes
- MPAA rating: PG-13
- MPAA explanation: sequences of sci-fi action/violence
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Common Sense Media's unbiased ratings are created by expert reviewers and aren't influenced by the product's creators or by any of our funders, affiliates, or partners.