'The Amazing Spider-Man 2' leads the way for summer movies

The Fresno BeeApril 25, 2014 

It's tough enough that Spider-Man has to battle three villains while trying to sort out his love life in his latest big screen adventure, but he also is carrying the weight of the movie world on his shoulders.

When "The Amazing Spider-Man 2" opens Friday, it will officially kick off the 2014 summer movie season — a spirited four-month barrage of big-budget offerings looking for box office supremacy.

Andrew Garfield, the man behind the Spider-Man mask, doesn't feel any added pressure being the opening act for the summer. This year, the summer offerings include big-budget action movies, comedies, romances and special effects-heavy films, and Garfield's film has all of those elements.

"The beauty of what I do is I just get to let it go. I do my job and then let people have their feelings about the movie. I don't have to ram it down their throats. All I can do is leave everything I've got in the film," Garfield says. "It's like an athlete. They can't score 50 points every game. So, you learn to take the ups and downs. None of that means anything as long as I've done everything I can while making the movie."

He has a calm way of looking at the profession he fell in love with when he was 16. That doesn't change the fact that his film follows a string of comic book-inspired movies that started their respective summer seasons dating back to 2007.

The summer movie season is important to studios because of the profits generated by mega movies. Six of the top 10 box office hits of 2013 were released between the beginning of May and Labor Day. Last year's summer season opener, "Iron Man 3," was the highest grossing movie of the year, taking in approximately $409 million.

It's natural "Amazing Spider-Man 2" would lead the way this year. The first "Amazing Spider-Man" opened July 3, 2012, and took in more than $262 million, despite dealing with some big problems.

"We really struggled with the first film," Garfield says. "The situation with the script was always in flux and in the end it was really patched up and sewn together. I didn't sleep very much. It was hard to identify one voice for Peter. This time, we had a full script when we started."

The patchwork writing was avoided because Alex Kurtzman and Roberto Orci wrote the screenplay. The pair have firmly established themselves in the genre with their work on projects from "Star Trek" to "Fringe."

Their script brings together the rumble of a big action movie with Spider-Man battling Electro (Jamie Foxx), Rhino (Paul Giamatti) and Green Goblin (Dane DeHaan), plus the continuing battle to work out his relationship with Gwen Stacy (Emma Stone).

Garfield's confidence in the sequel also comes from humor he gets to do as the wise-cracking superhero.

"We were restricted in the first one and that made it hard to explore that side of the character. This time we really get into the whole teen-age rebellion idea. There's a kind of joy to the way I get to play the character and that joy was something we all agreed this movie needed," Garfield says.

Opening up the summer movie season is nothing compared to taking on a comic book character that has legions of fans. Garfield has handled the pressure by focusing on the work, which was easy since he has been a fan of the character since he was 3. His first Halloween costume was Spider-Man.

Garfield doesn't worry about the opinions of others. Staying true to his own commitment and vision is what matters.

"Our duty as actors is to put our soul into the work rather than reflect the soul of everyone else. If you try to do the appeasing game, you are going to get further away from the truth," Garfield says.

Garfield loves everything about playing Spidey.

"I love being the mess of Peter Parker and by extension of being Spider-Man. He is a flawed superhero. He's a kid and imperfect. I can appreciate all aspects of the role," Garfield says. "I haven't changed playing the character. The opportunities are different and fantastic. But, I don't feel I've changed at all.

"I feel blessed by getting this role."

Coming to a theater near you

Here are some of the movies scheduled to open between May 2 and Labor Day.



May 2

"The Amazing Spider-Man 2"

Director: Marc Webb

Cast: Andrew Garfield, Emma Stone

Story: Spidey tries to fix his love life while battling three villains.

Potential: Summer film season starts with a web gem.



May 9

"Legends of Oz: Dorothy's Return"

Directors: Will Finn, Dan St. Pierre

Cast: Lea Michele, Kelsey Grammer

Story: Dorothy's called back for another adventure in Oz.

Potential: Animated "Oz" tales have not done well at the box office.


Director: Nicholas Stoller

Cast: Seth Rogen, Zac Efron

Story: Couple try to deal with the wild fraternity house next door.

Potential: Move to a different theater.



May 16


Director: Gareth Edwards

Cast: Aaron Taylor-Johnson, Elizabeth Olsen

Story: World faces another building-destroying challenge by the lizard.

Potential: Not a monster hit.

"Million Dollar Arm"

Director: Craig Gillespie

Cast: Jon Hamm, Aasif Mandvi

Story: Agent travels to India to find next great major league pitcher.

Potential: Sweet enough to earn a few singles but not a home run.



May 23


Director: Frank Coraci

Cast: Adam Sandler, Drew Barrymore

Story: Single parents with nothing in common vacation together.

Potential: Would rather see "50 First Dates" again.

"X-Men: Days of Future Past"

Director: Bryan Singer

Cast: Patrick Stewart, Michael Fassbender

Story: X-Men must stop a future where mutants are hunted, killed.

Potential: Bringing both casts together creates super tale.



May 30


Director: Robert Stromberg

Cast: Angelina Jolie, Sharlto Copley

Story: Explores the untold story of Disney's iconic villain.

Potential: Something wicked this way comes.

"A Million Ways to Die in the West"

Director: Seth MacFarlane

Cast: Amanda Seyfried, Charlize Theron

Story: Cowardly farmer turns to a gunslinger's wife for help.

Potential: Will show how the West was fun.



June 6

"Edge of Tomorrow"

Director: Doug Liman

Cast: Tom Cruise, Emily Blunt

Story: Soldier keeps dying and facing same suicide mission.

Potential: Should have called it "Oblivion 2."

"The Fault in Our Stars"

Director: Josh Boone

Cast: Shailene Woodley, Laura Dern

Story: Teens fall in love at a cancer support group.

Potential: If fans of books come, it's a hit.



June 13

"22 Jump Street"

Director: Chris Miller, Phil Lord

Cast: Channing Tatum, Jonah Hill

Story: Officers go undercover at a local college.

Potential: It won't "Jump" too high.

"How to Train Your Dragon 2"

Director: Dean DeBlois

Cast: Jay Baruchel, Craig Ferguson

Story: Hiccup, Toothless battle Drago.

Potential: "Dragon's" fire not as hot but should still heat up theaters.



June 20

"Jersey Boys"

Director: Clint Eastwood

Cast: John Lloyd Young, Erich Bergen

Story: Four young men come together to make beautiful music.

Potential: Perfect harmony of great story, director.

"Think Like a Man 2"

Director: Tim Story

Cast: Kevin Hart, Terrence Jenkins

Story: Plans for romantic weekend go bad.

Potential: Won't have first-time charms of original.



June 27

"Transformers: Age of Extinction"

Director: Michael Bay

Cast: Mark Wahlberg, Nicola Peltz

Story: Automobile mechanic brings down Autobots and Decepticons.

Potential: Franchise keeps changing shape enough to make money.



July 2


Director: Ben Falcone

Cast: Melissa McCarthy, Susan Sarandon

Story: Woman with no options goes on road trip.

Potential: Didn't anyone see "The Guilt Trip?"



July 11

"Dawn of the Planet of the Apes"

Director: Matt Reeves

Cast: Andy Serkis, Keri Russell

Story: Simians continue plans to take over the world.

Potential: Time for franchise to stop monkeying around.



July 18

"Jupiter Ascending"

Directors: Andy and Lana Wachowskis

Cast: Channing Tatum, Mila Kunis

Story: Woman born to do great things faces reality of being hunted.

Potential: If chemistry is right, it'll be explosive.

"Planes: Fire and Rescue"

Director: Roberts Gannaway

Cast: Dane Cook, Julie Bowen

Story: Air racer Dusty must help fight forest fire.

Potential: Won't be surprise hit like "Planes" but will get off the ground.



July 25


Director: Brett Ratner

Cast: Dwayne Johnson, John Hurt

Story: Hercules faces more challenges after his 12 labors.

Potential: Even Johnson can't muscle this to a big win.

"Step Up All In"

Director: Trish Sie

Cast: Alyson Stoner, Briana Evigan

Story: All-star dancers come together in Vegas.

Potential: Will be out of step with big summer hits.



Aug. 1

"Guardians of the Galaxy"

Directors: James Gunn

Cast: Chris Pratt, Zoe Saldana

Story: Heroic misfits discover the true power of the orb.

Potential: Biggest gamble to date by Marvel.



Aug. 8

"The Hundred Foot Journey"

Director: Lasse Hallström

Cast: Helen Mirren, Manish Dayal

Story: Competing Indian restaurants battle in the south of France.

Potential: Hard dish to sell during hot summer movie months.

"Into the Storm"

Director: Steven Quale

Cast: Richard Armitage, Sarah Wayne Callies

Story: Storm chasers face dangers to get the perfect photo.

Potential: Spins like an update of "Twister."

"Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles"

Director: Jonathan Liebesman

Cast: Will Arnett, Megan Fox

Story: Four genetically altered turtles fight crime, eat pizza.

Potential: Cowabunga! Huge summer hit.



Aug. 15

"The Expendables 3"

Director: Patrick Hughes

Cast: Sylvester Stallone, Jason Statham

Story: Team faces former leader who became a ruthless arms dealer.

Potential: Aging quickly, still has some kick.



Aug. 22

"If I Stay"

Director: R.J. Cutler

Cast: Chloë Grace Moretz, Mireille Enos

Story: Young woman must make biggest decision of her life.

Potential: Should get bump from fans of the book.

"Sin City: A Dame To Kill For"

Director: Robert Rodriguez, Frank Miller

Cast: Mickey Rourke, Rosario Dawson

Story: Man is hunted by the only woman he ever loved.

Potential: Crowds will be small but enthusiastic.



Aug. 29


Director: Kevin Greutert

Cast: Sarah Snook, Mark Webber

Story: Woman comes face to face with a long-tormented spirit.

Potential: They don't always save the best for last.


TV and movie critic Rick Bentley can be reached at (559) 441-6355, rbentley@fresnobee.com or @RickBentley1 on Twitter. Read his blog at www.fresnobeehive.com.

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