REVIEW: “The Amazing Spider-Man 2”

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While it certainly wasn’t a bad film, I can’t say that I was amazed by “The Amazing Spider-Man”. Maybe it was just too soon after the previous trilogy and a rebooted origin story simply felt too familiar. I liked the movie but it didn’t stay with me. As you would expect in today’s modern Hollywood, a big budget sequel was already in the works and it arrives only two years later in the form of “The Amazing Spider-Man 2”. It is director Marc Webb’s $250 million continuation of the web-slinging superhero’s story, at least this version of it.

Spider-Man is probably the most popular superhero in the Marvel Comics universe and he has been box office gold for Sony Pictures. That trend has proven to continue. This film has already raked in over $350 million worldwide only one week into its United States release. People flock to Spider-Man pictures. But are they flocking to a good movie? Quite honestly the trailers for this film did little to excite me. Still, I’m a comic book guy so any chance to visit these great characters piques my interest at least to some degree.

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Andrew Garfield returns to play Peter Parker and Emma Stone is back as Gwen Stacy. It’s high school graduation and the two are still romantically involved although Peter still struggles with a promise he made to keep her out of his dangerous crime-fighting life. He’s also still haunted by the truth surrounding the disappearance of his parents many years earlier. We are also introduced to Harry Osborn (Dane DeHaan) who returns to Manhattan to see his dying father Norman (Chris Cooper). We also meet a lonely, unassuming man named Max Dillon (Jamie Foxx). He works as an engineer for OsCorp and he has a longing to be needed and noticed. All of these characters plus more find their way into this busy story.

“The Amazing Spider-Man 2” is the perfect definition of a mixed bag. Several of the film’s components work really well while others drag the film down or hinder the storytelling. Perhaps the biggest problem is that the movie tries to cram in too much story and too many characters. This results in some characters who are thin and who feel terribly underdeveloped. More importantly there are significant story angles that are never given the time they need to build. This makes certain parts of the story feel forced and shortchanged which ultimately waters down their effect.

On the flip-side, the movie does shine in the more human emotional moments. Garfield and Stone create a strong and truly believable romance hindered by the complications their lives have brought. The two have really good chemistry and they share several fantastic non-superhero scenes together. I do miss the changes made to the Peter Parker character. Gone is the nerdy awkwardness that has always been a defining quality. There are also some good scenes between Peter and his Aunt May (Sally Field) as well as one particular good scene where Peter catches up with his old high school buddy Harry. The movie was at its best when focusing on the human elements.

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But this is a superhero movie so naturally you look for and expect certain things. First off, Garfield is very good behind the mask. He has a lot of personality and I found several of his quips to be quite funny. Of course the majority of his fighting is presented through CGI. Sometimes it looks good, other times the animation is obvious. But even he suffers due to the film’s lack of a bankable villain. Jamie Foxx’s Electro is a huge stretch from the comic book inspiration and frankly this version is not that interesting. I’ve never been sold on Foxx as an actor and he is very dull and uninspired here. But it’s hard to put the blame squarely on him. He’s given flimsy material and he doesn’t have the chops to rise above it. I also didn’t care for DeHaan’s Harry Osborn. He barely resembled this important character in Spidey lore and there were times when he was just painfully bad. The movie needed these characters to work and I didn’t buy into either of them.

So basically this movie works on the human level but only occasionally where it needed to the most as a superhero movie. It’s a cramped and underdeveloped story which is surprising considering the film is a long 2 hours 20 minutes. There are so many plot lines that feel shoehorned in and that barely contribute to the movie as a whole. There isn’t a good villainous presence and the rebooted series has yet to find itself an identity. It does have its moments, but in the end it doesn’t feel like the movie that this character and his great history deserves. Despite its scattered good scenes, I still felt Spider-Man deserved better.

VERDICT – 2 STARS

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35 thoughts on “REVIEW: “The Amazing Spider-Man 2”

  1. Had a whole bunch of fun with this, even if I do realize its messiness and yet, still accept it. That’s just where my mind ends up, for some reason. Good review Keith.

    • Glad you enjoyed it. I thought it was a poorly executed mess. I thought the writing was a huge letdown and none of the villains added anything. Was really hoping for something better.

  2. Yeah, I pretty much feel the same way, Keith. A mess of a storyline, but Emma Stone was even better in this compared to the first. But when I compare it with The Winter Soldier, it frankly pales, sorry to say.

    • You are so right. This thing doesn’t come close to Winter Soldier. It is a sad waste and it has me wishing Marvel Studios could get the property back from Sony.

  3. The more you think about it the less you will think of it. Sorry to say I noticed how long the movie was and how weak the villain elements of the story were put together. A disappointment but some OK action scenes.

    • I agree. I don’t see this one sticking with me at all. This entire reboot lacks an identity and it hasn’t impressed me much at all. Did you like the first film of this series?

      • I thought Garfield and Stone’s moments together were the best parts of this film. There are also a couple of really good scenes between Garfield and Sally Field. But the overall story was a letdown.

  4. Great review Keith! I must say I had more fun with this than you did but they really did need to spend more time developing some things, which would have made this movie a lot more solid, in my opinion! However, I really liked Dane DeHaan in here, just wish they had given him more to work with!

    • Thanks Zoe! I felt DeHaan was terribly miscast. Then again this wasn’t the Harry of the comics. That said there were moments where he had me shaking my head (the scene with him and Electro). And close to the end, he kept reminding more of Evil Ed from the original Fright Night than who he had become.

      • Anytime Keith! I am a huge DeHaan fan, so for me it was great to see him in here, though I wished they had given him a tighter character. You are right, not the Harry from the comics. I don’t know… Electro dropped a lot of cringe-worthy lines…

      • I like facepalmed a few times. But this movie is fun, but definitely not fantastic. Its predecessor was much better!

  5. Great review. I loved the film and thought the new lighter more comic book feel of the film made Spider-man finally feel like Spider-man.

    Very much looking forward to the next one, BRING ON SINISTER SIX! 😀

  6. Oy, seems like all the reviews confirmed my dread. I was excited for the first Amazing Spider-man movie, but maybe more because I had seen Andrew Garfield up close at comic-con the previous year. But after seeing the first trailer of this one, it just felt so… unnecessary. Wow it’s 2 hours 20 minutes long?? Man that is way too long for not much character development.

    • Exactly Ruth! How on earth consummate these characters feel so flimsy when you have that running time? And the villains are just terrible. Blah!!!!!

      • Yeah, Elektro looks especially ridiculous! And Green Goblin is practically laughable!! I think DeHaan looks ok as Harry though, but once he turns into Goblin I can’t help but laugh. At least Dafoe looked menacing in the Raimi version.

      • I didn’t buy into DeHaan at all. There were a few scenes where I couldn’t figure out what he was doing. Then he had some line reading that had me face palming. And Foxx… Ugh!

        But neither are helped very much with the material. Both are underwritten and underdeveloped.

  7. Great review! I think I’m gonna stay away from this one – I can hardly ever stand Foxx and I barely even finished the first part of this reboot. Shame, I really like Emma Stone but that was so boring.

  8. I loved the first Amazing Spider-man film, but I agree with you about this one being a mixed bag… I was impressed that they actually [SPOILER, SPOILER, SPOILER] killed off Stone’s character though – I was dreading them having spiderman save her just in time – that would have been awful!

    • I really think this should have been so much better. There’s no excuse for it not being. I thinking it all comes down to the writing and a couple of weak performances.

  9. I’m with you in regards to this working best when its focus is on the characters and their various relationships. It’s a shame that the filmmaker’s decided to cram so much in. I’ve high hopes for DeHaan as the Green Goblin though! Great review Keith.

    Adam.

    • Thanks a lot. Appreciate the comments. I gotta say I thought DeHaan was pretty terrible. For me he wasn’t convincing nor interesting and his evolution into the Goblin was so rushed and out of the blue. In the end I think there was a much more interesting way they could have introduced such an iconic comic book villain.

      • Definitely agree on the final point there Keith. I think it all comes back to the film having too much going on. In a way, it sort of feels like a buffer between the first and the next Amazing Spider-Man’s!

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