The Amazing Spider-Man 2 Review
Directed by Marc Webb
Produced by Avi Arad and Matt Tolmach
Written by Alex Kurtzman, Roberto Orci, and Jeff Pinkner
Based on Spider-Man by Stan Lee and Steve Ditko
Starring Andrew Garfield, Emma Stone, Jamie Foxx, Dane Dehaan, Colm Feore, Felicity Jones, Campbell Scott, Embeth Davidtz, Paul Giamatti, and Sally Field
Released: May 2, 2014
Runtime: 2 hr, 22 min
Rating PG-13 for sequences of sci-fi action/violence
Hello, ladies and gentlemen, and welcome to the 2014 summer blockbuster season! Kicking this years summer off is the sequel to Marc Webb’s...halfway decent-ish The Amazing Spider-Man. If you remember right, I wasn’t the biggest fan of the original, even though I gave it a decent grade because it’s a hard movie to say you straight up don’t like, though I acknowledged that the sequel was giving off a “the sequel’s going to be better” vibe. Was I right? Well, it pains me greatly to say “No. No, I was not." Despite the return of the original’s outstanding cast as well as great direction and effects, The Amazing Spider-Man 2 is bogged down by it’s incredibly uneven tone and far too many elements that are incredibly rushed, including a thrown together third act.
The Amazing Spider-Man 2 kicks off some time after the end of the original. Peter Parker is enjoying his time as Spider-Man, saving New York on a daily basis while dating Gwen Stacy. However, after an accident leaves one of his biggest fans (read: obsessive semi-stalker) with the ability to conduct and control electricity, Spider-Man is thrown into action to face his greatest adversary yet. Meanwhile, his childhood friend, Harry Osborn, has returned from boarding school and is searching for a way to cure his terminal illness, which may include getting Spider-Man’s blood. Meanwhile, Peter is suffering from guilt after betraying Captain Stacy’s dying wish (If you’ll remember, the man’s dying words were, in essence, “Stay the frick away from my daughter.” to which our hero replied, in essence, “Brah, nah.”). Meanwhile, Peter is still trying to solve the mystery of his parent’s disappearance. Meanwhile...you get the idea.
As with the first Amazing Spider-Man movie, the cast is pretty dang great. The returning members are all in fine form, and Andrew Garfield finally manages to move himself out from Tobey MaGuire's shadow. This time around, they are also joined by four new cast members: Chris Cooper as Norman Osborn, Paul Giamatti as the Rhino, Dane DeHaan as Harry Osborn, and Jamie Foxx as Electro. Chris Cooper gets all of one scene and no time to make an impression; Paul Giamatti, a fan of the Rhino character, goes completely gonzo-over-the-top, and it’s hard not to like it when you can tell the guy is just having a good time; Jamie Foxx is iffy all the way through, but it’s not so much his fault as much as it’s just that Electro is a poorly written character (but we’ll get to that in a minute). Finally, we come to Dane DeHaan as Harry Osborn, and there are really two aspects of his performance. You have his awesome portrayal of Harry Osborn as a very sympathetic character with a superb chemistry with Andrew Garfield, and then you have his later portrayal of the Green Goblin, a stereotypical “evil villain” with a neat design but nothing else to make the performance memorable in any way. Say what you will about Willem DaFoe’s over the top performance in Raimi’s first movie, but at least he made it his.
Other than that, we have Marc Webb returning to the director’s chair, and as with the first movie, his direction is another standout aspect. Many of the Spider-Man scenes in this are more effects heavy than in the preceding film, so it allows Webb and his production team more freedom with movement and spectacle in the action sequences. That said, the money shot, a tracking shot of Spider-Man and Electro duking it out in a power plant, was given away by this movie’s ridiculous marketing campaign. Hans Zimmer’s score will probably be divisive, but I personally enjoyed it and thought that the electronic sound matched up well with the epic sound Zimmer has become known for.
Now we get to the not-so-good and even downright bad stuff. First off, the unevenness of this movie is horrible. It can’t seem to decide whether it wants to be funny, cheesy, somewhat hammy, and fun in a way that brings back memories of Raimi’s movies, or if it wants to continue the dark, gritty, realistic, grounded tone that the first one kept. And it kills the movie. Anything involving Electro is just...stupid. He’s supposed to be made out of electricity, but he’s still covered in this ridiculous spandex suit that somehow materializes around him; his lines consist of 90% cheesy villain dialogue (“Let’s go kill a spider!”), and he’s just a poorly written character. He goes from loving Spider-Man to hating him in the space of one scene! He get’s his powers from falling into a vat of eels, for crap’s sake! I understand it's "comic book science", but then compare that to Harry Osborn, who gets a grotesque transformation scene into the Green Goblin that’s seems so incredibly out of place in the grand scheme of things. It doesn’t fit! IT DOESN’T FIT!
Secondly, so much of this movie seemed rushed. The relationship between Harry and his father is expounded in one quick scene of exposition that serves no purpose other than to set up Harry’s story. Electro’s big villainous motivation is glossed over: he goes from just wanting to be seen, which is understandable, to wanting to be seen as a god. Nowhere is this rushed feel seen more than in the climax. I’m not talking about the final showdown with Electro, which is alright; it’s visually impressive, pretty inventive, and actually a cool fight scene. No, I’m talking about the first/last fight scene with the Green Goblin. This scene is two minutes long, isn’t visually impressive, isn’t inventive, isn’t a good fight scene, and serves only to shoehorn in the emotional kick to the balls third act twist that anyone with access to this movie’s overblown marketing campaign and half an ounce of common sense can figure out. Webb, you have the Green frickin’ Goblin, arguably the greatest Marvel villain out there, at your disposal, and you do THIS? What’s the point? Why not set him up here and leave him for the main villain in the third movie instead of bringing the Joker of the Marvel universe down to that level? It’s a waste; that’s what it is. It’s a waste of what could have been a d*** excellent villain.
Finally, the movie could have ended a solid ten minutes before it did. If it had to have the Green Goblin in it, it still should have ended earlier than it did to leave something for the third movie. Instead, we get a last few minutes that drag unbelievably. It tries to get one last subplot in there, even though as soon as it’s introduced you know how it’s gonna end. It’s rushed, just like the rest of the last act, and it’s only there so you can get to the ending you knew you would get nine minutes before. It’s not needed. Just like the Green Goblin, it’s just not needed.
Ultimately, The Amazing Spider-Man 2 is just a disappointing movie. It’s brought down lower than it’s predecessor by it’s unbelievably uneven tone, it’s rushed feel, and it’s complete, utter misuse of one of the great comic book villains. It’s sad to see Spider-Man brought down to this level when the movie could have been so much better if Webb and Co. had used just a little bit of restraint. It may have it’s high points, but The Amazing Spider-Man 2 both fails to improve on its predecessor as well as killing my interest for anything else this franchise may have left to offer.
Rating: ✮✬✰✰(1 ½ / 4 stars)
Various Stuff and Such:
-Remember to comment with your own thoughts on the movie and follow the blog if you enjoyed the review.
-Dear Mark Webb, to regain excitement for the third movie and its spinoffs, cast J.K. Simmons as J. Jonah Jameson. It doesn’t matter that he’s already played the character in another franchise, he’s too synonymous with the role for anyone else to play it. Sincerely, America.
-To be fair, there are a lot of neat easter eggs for eagle-eyed comic book fans that don’t seem shoehorned in…
-...although the same can’t be said for the requisite Stan Lee cameo, which is possibly his laziest appearance yet.
-It may just be my rapidly plummeting interest in the movie at that point, but did Electro basically pluck his name out of midair? I swear, he just says at one point, “I’m Electro.” and that’s that. Did I miss something?
Wannabe Movie Critic