The Amazing Spider-Man 2 Review

Posted: May 14, 2014 by Daniel Simpson (PG Cooper) in PG Cooper's Movie Reviews

The Amazing Spiderman 2Written by Daniel “PG Cooper” Simpson

I had hopes for The Amazing Spider-Man back in 2012, but the film turned out to be exactly what I feared it could be; a bland and uninspired cash grab made by people lacking any passion. I mostly hated that film, and have been sort of baffled by the audience which has built around it. I didn’t have much interest in the inevitable sequel, but I did wonder if, with the origin story out of the way, the filmmakers would be free to make something more inspired. So, I reluctantly decided to seek out The Amazing Spider-Man 2, if nothing else just so I could be a part of the discussion. Not only is the film unable to capture the strength of Raimi’s trilogy, but it can’t even reach the very low standards of its predecessor.

The Amazing Spider-Man 2 starts shortly after the events of the first film. Peter Parker’s superhero alter ego Spider-Man (Andrew Garfield) has become a famous figure in New York City, continuing to foil criminals plots and save lives. In his civilian life, Peter is in a happy and fulfilling relationship with Gwen Stacy (Emma Stone), but is being haunted by visions of Gwen’s deceased father Captain Stacy (Denis Leary). By dating Gwen, Peter feels he is putting Gwen’s life in danger, which causes friction between the two of them. Meanwhile, a socially awkward Oscorp employee (Jamie Foxx) is an accident which grants him electric super powers. He becomes the supervillain Electro and begins to wreak havoc. Speaking of Oscorp, the heir to the company, Harry Osborn (Dane DeHaan), is an old friend of Peter’s, an his return to New York further complicates Peter’s life. Peter also further explores the mystery of his parents’ disappearance when he was still a boy.

To read that plot description is likely very frustrating, as I awkwardly jump from several disparate plot points with little connection between them. This is what it is like to watch The Amazing Spider-Man 2. The film is lacking an actual narrative, and is instead a bunch of mini-plots forcibly shoved together. In addition to all of the stories described in the paragraph above, there’s also the introduction to the supervillain The Rhino (Paul Giamatti), and a subplot involving Aunt May (Sally Field) becoming a nurse. The film jumps between all these stories frequently while abandoning others for long stretches of time before actually returning. Electro is a huge part of the film’s first act, but disappears throughout the middle of the film, before returning at the end only to be pointless to the overall story of the film. The storytelling is just very convoluted, and the problem is exasperated by the fact that the stories have very clashing tones. With all of them going on at once, I have no idea what the film wants to be, and I don’t think director Marc Webb knows either.

So the film is a mess, but one that could have been salvaged had the individual subplots been engaging on their own, but they really aren’t. Most of the subplots here are just not interesting. Electro is a boring character and his motives change on a dime. I suppose you could say, “it’s because he’s crazy,” but that isn’t interesting, and is ultimately lazy writing. The material with Rhino and the visions of Denis Leary are just silly, the revelation of why Peter’s parents left is very underwhelming. And does anyone actually care about Aunt May becoming a nurse? There are at least two scenes dedicated to this subplot, and in a film already bloated to the point of bursting, superfluous stuff like this is becomes very problematic. Then there’s Peter’s relationship with Harry, which is handled horribly. There’s a lot of talk about what good friends they are, but the audience doesn’t actually get to see and experience their friendship. Not only is it a retread of what Sam Raimi explored in his trilogy, but it almost relies on that series for audiences to respond to Harry and Peter’s friendship. When Harry begins to eventually transform into the Green Goblin, it’s just very rushed and overall sloppy.

This may sound crazy, but I think the story that actually works the best is the relationship drama between Peter and Gwen. It becomes repetitive and drawn out, but Andrew Garfield and Emma Stone have a lot of chemistry and they make the material work. It’s cheesy at points, but these characters are teenagers, and feels genuine. This is also the only subplot where the characters seem to have some depth. Almost every character is portrayed as a simplistic cartoon, but when Peter and Gwen are together, they feel like real people. The end result of so many stories is the film becomes convoluted, with the individual plot lines meaning little, and it also weighs heavy on the runtime. This is a film which runs almost two and a half hours completely lacking in focus or substance.

The performances here are all over the place. I’ve already talked about Andrew Garfield and Emma Stone’s strong chemistry, and I actually liked Garfield’s take on Spider-Man this time around. He handles the emotions of Peter well and also captures Spider-Man’s playful attitude. I also liked Sally Field as Aunt May, even though the film isn’t really sure what to do with her. The rest of the cast is less interesting. Jamie Foxx overplays his role as the geeky outsider and when he becomes the supervillain Electro, he’s just bland. I can’t really blame Foxx though since he doesn’t have much to work with. Dane DeHaan is wildly inconsistent. In some scenes, he’s pretty strong. In others, he’s hilariously awful, and it doesn’t help that the design they give The Green Goblin makes the suit from Raimi’s film look badass by comparison. Then there’s Paul Giamatti’s performance as The Rhino. In addition to being completely pointless in the grand scheme of the film, Giamatti clearly did not give a shit and delivers a ridiculously over the top performance. It’s an irritating character, and well beneath what I expect from an actor of Giamatti’s calibre. The rest of the supporting cast is filled out with over the top and goofy performances, notably Martin Csokas as a bizarre mad scientist.

You’d think I’d have at least enjoyed the action scenes, but I really didn’t. There are a lot of action scenes mind you, but Marc Webb’s execution of them is pretty bad. Most of the big action set-pieces come from Electro, but these quickly devolve into poorly choreographed CG fests lacking in any humanity. Scenes end up being an assault on the senses. Other action scenes don’t work simply because feel very forced. The film seemingly has his climax when Spider-Man and Electro have their final match-up, but then there’s not one, but two big villain fights after that. At that point, I was just exhausted and wanted the film to be over. About the only action scene that works is the opening car chase. It’s nothing special, but it’s a fun action scene which sets a light tone. I also thought Webb did a good job portraying Spider-Man swinging through the city, but these positives aren’t really enough.

There are a few good scenes scattered throughout The Amazing Spider-Man 2, and I enjoyed Hans Zimmer’s score (although certain aspects didn’t work for me, and Webb’s use of it felt off). However the pros of the film are outweighed by the nearly endless cons. There are so many problems with this film that it’s hard to accurately encapsulate it in one review. However if I were to sum up the film in one sentence, it would be this one; The Amazing Spider-Man 2 is a complete train-wreck and the worst Spider-Man film made yet.

D-

Comments
  1. le0pard13 says:

    It’s a mess, alright. While it has its moments, almost all of them involving Emma Stone, I can’t see it earning the praise (and cash) Sony was hoping. Fine review, Daniel.

  2. CMrok93 says:

    I can see why so many people didn’t like this, but I had a great time with it. Don’t know how or why, but it was just fun and interesting. For only just me, I guess. Good review Dan.

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