A little less than ten years ago, on opening day no less, I watched the spectacle that was Spider-Man 2 for the first time. It was truly fascinating, and to this day it is one of my all-time favorite action films. Well here I am, almost a decade has past, and we now have a second Spider-Man 2. One that is “AMAZING”, in fact. The sequel to the not-entirely-necessary reboot of the Spider-Man franchise, this entry tries to swing high but unfortunately misses a lot of marks. Despite firm performances from the returning as well as some of new cast members, “The Amazing Spider-Man 2” hopelessly loses itself in its own ambition with a story that has a terrible lack of balance.
The story picks up not too long after the conclusion of “The Amazing Spider-Man” released in 2012. Everybody knows Peter Parker and his web-head alter ego, Spider-Man (played by Andrew Garfield); he’s able to do whatever a spider can. Peter now has a much better grip on his amazing abilities and has become a force to be reckoned with for the masters of crime in NYC. Now a high school graduate, things start shaking up for Peter when his childhood friend Harry Osborn (played by Dane DeHaan) returns to town to take the reins of the mysterious Oscorp Corporation. The fun doesn’t stop for Peter as he also deals with some complications in his relationship with Gwen Stacey (played by Emma Stone). Oh, and an incident at Oscorp leads to Max Dillon’s (played by Jamie Foxx) transformation into the villainous Electro.
As you can probably already tell, there is A LOT going on. This is the film’s greatest weakness, and drags it down from the heights it could have reached. It’s painfully obvious that the motive behind so many characters and ideas being introduced is that the studio (Sony) wants their property to stand a chance next to the monumental Marvel Studios. It’s a disappointing trend rippling through all superhero movie properties across the board that are trying to quickly and messily expand the universe around their characters. They are all ignoring the most crucial step Marvel Studios took which was to expand their universe SLOWLY, over multiple films to be exact.
When you don’t take your time to introduce and develop characters the story suffers, and that’s exactly what happened with this movie. The focus of “The Amazing Spider-Man 2” just couldn’t stand still which resulted in a lack of connection to what was going on in the story. I don’t even want to start on the screenplay (written by Alex Kurtzman, Robert Orci, and Jeff Pickner), which provided lines worthy of a good cringe in your seat as the proceedings went on. Some of lines and events were just silly and wasted.
Things weren’t all bad here though. The performances for the most part made the movie watchable. As established in the reboot, Andrew Garfield plays Spider-Man very well here, and continues to make himself distinct from Tobey Maguire’s performance of the character and the on-screen chemistry he shares with co-star (and real life girlfriend) Emma Stone is outstanding. They both work off each other and it’s definitely a major strength director Marc Webb understands and utilizes for the film. Sally Field also brings her natural on-screen greatness to the proceedings as Aunt May. Dane DeHaan, a newcomer to the cast, sheds new light on the character of Harry Osborn that James Franco just couldn’t hit when he previously played the character, making the character sympathetic but at the same time you know not to get too close. Jamie Foxx does what he can with the Electro character, but unfortunately he wasn’t given much to work with here.
Another great element of this film is the visual aspect. While Electro’s involvement in the film was pretty much just so they have the cool looking action sequences they wanted, on that note they did achieve that. The scenes involving Electro looked great, and gave the film its own visual distinguishing that made the proceedings more bearable. Also while Spidey’s web-slinging looks a bit more cartoonish than they did in the Raimi films, they still looked very nice and unique to the rebooted franchise.
These movies in the rebooted Spider-Man franchise have been working so hard to separate themselves from the previous Raimi installments and yet they don’t learn from the mistakes made by the worst entry in the Raimi films. “The Amazing Spider-Man 2” had a talented cast at its disposal and bright, magnificent visuals to supplement them but at the end of the day an overwhelmingly compacted story and bogus script keep the film from the entertaining summer blockbuster it could have been.
Montclair State | New Jersey