The Amazing Spider-Man 2 Review
Posted by Terry Lewis on 05.02.2014
Spider-Man swings back onto the big screen with The Amazing Spider-Man 2! But does the film stand out as sensational this time around or is it less than spectacular? 411's Terry Lewis checks in with his full review!
Andrew Garfield - Peter Parker / Spider-Man Emma Stone - Gwen Stacy Jamie Foxx - Max Dillon / Electro Dann DeHaan - Harry Osborn Campbell Scott - Richard Parker Embeth Davidtz - Mary Parker Colm Feore - Donald Menken Paul Giamatti - Aleksei Sytsevich / The Rhino Sally Parker - May Parker Chris Cooper - Norman Osborn
Maybe me and you have been spoilt with the recently at least good level of quality with comic book movies but the recent reboot of Sony's Spider-Man franchise with director Marc Webb at the helm still feels unnecessary and the fact it's still finding it's feet doesn't help in getting out of first gear on the quality train. Although The Amazing Spider-Man 2 is certainly a nice, fun popcorn flick with fantastic work done on bringing Spidey to life on the big screen, the lack of substance around our favourite webhead superhero in terms of plot and villains to fight sticks him to the floor.
Peter Parker (Andrew Garfield, The Social Network) is fresh out of high school and is trying to balance college, his on-off relationship with his girlfriend Gwen Stacy (Emma Stone, Gangster Squad) and his superhero career as the Amazing Spider-Man. Through various encounters around his distant friend Harry Osborn's (Dann DeHaan, Kill Your Darlings) newly inherited company Oscorp, Peter soon has to deal with the charged up villain Electro (Jamie Foxx, Django Unchained) as well as the path he's on in life.
There's one thing you can't knock The Amazing Spider-Man 2 for and that's the fact that this is a damn good SPIDER-MAN movie. For the opening car chase, the rich CGI manages to bring to life Spidey's acrobatic web-slinging finally and it's kept up throughout the film. We finally come the closest cinema can to showing what it must be like to have Spider-Man's various powers with a showcase with how quick and strong he is in combat, his agility and athleticism in heroics and the use of his Spider-sense "danger radar" in a slow motion, 'resolve everything' strategy is a fantastic touch. The scene where it kicks in after an awesome Times Square fight with Electro and he pulls people away from an electrified railing before they get zapped is stunning. If anything Webb does right is showing a true Spidey on the big screen finally with Garfield more than pulling this weight in the look of Peter Parker and delivering excellently with the numerous wise cracks the Webhead sprouts. The character is on the mark too with Spider-Man given a balanced portrayal through the film with numerous viewpoints such as he can viewed as a symbol of hope in the Big Apple to being a vigilante who attracts super crime due to his status to an idol to look up to or obsess over. Overall, I just can't get over how this is so much better than the Sam Raimi version of Spider-Man.
But yet, the plot isn't really here though I'm afraid. Whilst other comic book films manage to adapt storylines well, Amazing Spider-Man 2 isn't quite sure what this one is. There's the origins of the super villains being cooked up and we seem to be going over visiting Peter's search for what happened to his parents and how he feels about that and... yeah it's not great. I simply don't feel emotionally invested to how Peter is meant to feel over his missing parents because as quite rightly put by Sally Parker's (Mrs. Doubtfire) poor knock off of Rosemary Harris's Aunt May, "you're my boy". I guess this is the sequel's attempt at Peter's everyday teen angst... with his parents killed off supposedly for creating a new, confusing formula for human enhancement and being palmed off to his aunt and uncle for safe keeping as a young boy - I'm sure it's something everyone of us can relate to. There's no proper grounding to everyday struggles he has like finding money to pay for webbing at the forefront to make him feel as human as he does in the comics.
There are some highpoints in the plot though, with the Peter/Gwen on-off relationship being really engrossing just because Garfield and Stone are so bloody good working together. Whilst you are forgiven for thinking that Gwen is a bit bitch-like towards Peter, they are presented as a honest to goodness very REAL couple. They argue over whose driving the relationship, whose path they're on and where they're going considering the point where they are in their lives fresh out of high school and going onto the next steps, whilst the elephant in the room being Peter's super heroics. It fuels the better part of the teen angst Spider-Man as a character is famous for. The added touches with Spidey creating a giant "I Love You" sign on one of NYC's famous bridges adds to both the hero and the man behind the mask, especially the comedic beats drummed nicely through the runtime. The scene where Spidey webs Gwen to a car before jumping off with Gwen shouting Peter before cupping her hand to her mouth is hilarious. The expansion of the world of Spider-Man is lovely as well with the little things like the introduction of Felicia Hardy and Smythe and even the small e-mail exchanges with one J. Jonah Jameson makes a fuller and satisfier for any hardcore Spidey fans.
Half the fun of any good comic book movie is the villains and yet they feel more of a detriment to the better parts of the plot in The Amazing Spider-Man 2. It's a case of constantly tagging in a villain or situation for Spidey to deal with and it leads to poor scheduling. We get two villain origins filling up the runtime in a laborious pace but we somehow manage to speed through the important parts and fights. Even the adaptation of the most iconic Gwen Stacey related storyline just comes off as a rush job and whilst there's a good deal dedicated to the moment and fallout, it feels over far too quickly yet we've had to sit through numerous scenes involving Harry and Electro build up. Actually that's a bit harsh on Dann DeHaan because he does a bloody good job as a Prince Joffrey from Game Of Thrones like, heir to the throne Harry Osborn. Stuck with a degenerative disease which seems to be accelerating just when it feels like it wants to, Harry figures out Peter's alter ego with good old common sense and believes his spider-enhanced blood can cure him. All those bits being a desperate young man are great up until his transformation into the unnamed Green Goblin and he turns into a Wizard Of Oz cackling witch for 5 minutes with a healing suit and Goblin glider introduced in a blink and you'll miss it screenshot before rushing off to lose to Spidey in a cool but criminally short fight. Surely they could have found some more time for this which will be a bigger part of the franchise than Electro.
In fact, that maybe the biggest draw back of the film - Electro himself. I like Foxx alot yet his whole appearance and build is clown shoes. As an obsessive and near stalker-like idoliser of Spider-Man after he saves him, Max Dillon's human half is presented as a downtrodden nerd with badly clothed, pens spewing out of his shirt chest pocket, white socks and black shoes style who is bullied at his work place which is fine to represent but it just feels dumb. His reasons for a villain turn after coming across as a down-trodded but nice enough guy don't wash. There's no apparent motivation when they're clearing aiming for "The Bullied becomes the Bully". I realise this is a film aimed specifically for children as they'll buy toys and feed the Spider-Man merchandise machine but there's things like Dillon's stupid Electro suit after Harry breaks him out with bloody mini thunder bolts on it and the musical sequence when Spider-Man is smashed against his master plan electric pylon things at the end which are jaw dropingly stupid. Badly introduced, Foxx makes the most of what he's got but Electro is just plain goofy and too childish for me and I bet he will be crashing into a few people's "Worst Villains adaptation lists" in a few years down the road.
The Rhino is rather neutered in case you're wondering where he is and his handling is poor. Paul Giamatti (12 Years A Slave) turns up as a Russian mobster at the start of the movie in a pretty fun if short role... but that's it - there's no real build to him becoming the armoured super villain. Not that I really wanted to see it after seeing TWO origin stories in the same film but The Rhino is literally just a guy in a suit (which looks to the same for the half announced Sinister Six movie) with no proper character. Considering he was marketed prominently as being in the film - he has his own FILM POSTER for Christmas' sake - his five minute appearance in the epilogue is a disgusting breach of trust for audiences. Amazing Spider-Man 2 even decides to end just before the fight the fight between Rhino and Spidey gets going. Just as you're getting yourself invested in seeing a back on his feet Peter back at his day job, the film calls it a day and leaves an unsatisfying taste in the mouth.
The 411: Away from the same old origin story, Webb's second take of Spider-Man manages to take a sideways step again. Amazing Spider-Man 2 aims for a grander, mythos expanding sequel and doesn't come close to it's potential. The action and fights are still damn cool as with probably THE best Spider-Man we've seen on the big screen so far but Spidey is stuck down by a trio of poorly planned villains and the lack of a interesting plot with substance in a rushed pace takes away from a good cast performance. Like the comic version of The Rhino, it's big, kinda fun but most certainly dumb.