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Review: THE AMAZING SPIDER-MAN 2

As I left the cinema after director Marc Webb’s first foray into the superhero genre, 2012′s The Amazing Spider-Man, I was mostly annoyed. Despite the palpable chemistry between Andrew Garfield and Emma Stone (they’re dating now, you may well know), I thought the movie was overly po-faced and incredibly scatter-shot, glazing over most of the most important aspects of Peter Parker’s Spidey development. Because of that, my expectations for the second film, fittingly called The Amazing Spider-Man 2, were so low they were taking up residence next to dinosaur bones. But to my complete and utter shock, I found that I was enjoying myself more than I ever thought I would. The movie is undoubtedly dumb, but yet it was more fun; How can this be?

The real reason for this, I think, is tone. As I said, the first film felt so incredibly self-important and brooding in a way that Spider-Man shouldn’t be. Part of this, surely was to combat the over-the-moon campness of Sam Raimi’s third Spider-Man, but to me it just felt like it was trying to be young-kid-Batman. With this second film, they had a bit more fun with it, it seemed. There’s still the melodrama of teen angst coupled with super-powered problems, but everything just felt a lot sillier. And campy, too, it has to be said. But when the filmmakers are trying to cram as much into a single film as they are with this one, it’s hard to take everything seriously.

This movie picks up a few months after the events of The Amazing Spider-Man, with Spidey now out saving New Yorkers daily from various crimes and disasters. He’s back with Gwen Stacy (that breakup didn’t last long) and he’s graduating high school. Everything seems to be going well, which is a good reason for it to start going bad, I suppose. Peter Parker begins to feel guilty for continuing his relationship with Gwen even after he promised her late father (Denis Leary) that he wouldn’t. So they break up. Again. But they still don’t want to be broken up.

Spider-Man 2

Elsewhere, a dork named Max Dillon (Jamie Foxx) who works for Oscorp is having a terrible birthday. Everybody takes him for granted and treats him like dirt. His only friend is Spider-Man… in his mind. Spidey saved him one day and was nice to him and so Dillon gets a fixation. That’ll end well. Through a freak accident, Dillon is electrocuted badly and infused with the blue glow of the electrocuted, which allows him to feed on and harness electricity. He immediately gets cornered by police and, despite Spider-Man’s best efforts, Dillon, or Electro, walks away hating his former favorite wall-crawler.

Even elserwhere, the mod son of billionaire Norman Osborn, Harry (Dane DeHaan), returns to New York to visit his ailing father and assume the role of head of Oscorp. Turns out he’s got the same degenerative disease that his old man has and needs a sample of Spider-Man’s blood to synthesize a cure. He’s also Peter Parker’s long-estranged best friend and the two reconnect over throwing rocks into water. Harry also has an enemy within the company (Colm Feore) who wants Oscorp for himself.

Spider-Man 4

So, there are a lot of plot threads all going on at once, and none of them are developed all that well. Everything needs to just happen for the story to keep going, so characters, usually the villains, take huge leaps of logic in order to justify the stuff that has to happen afterwards. There was probably enough here to make two regular-length movies instead of one long movie that goes through things very quickly.

A lot of what bogged down the first film revolved around Peter’s parent’s, Richard and Mary (Campbell Scott and Embeth Davitz), and why they left Peter with his aunt and uncle, and who his father worked for. If possible, there’s even more of this story thread in TASM2, which partially explains the head-scratching from part 1 but adds to it a whole new set of questions that might get answered next time if they remember. Between flashbacks to Peter’s dad and hallucinations about Gwen’s dad, Scott and Leary end up with a lot of screen time, whereas Uncle Ben, who traditionally is the focal point of Peter’s sense of honor and duty, is completely side-stepped and forgotten.

But, I did say I enjoyed myself during this movie, and I think the main reason is Andrew Garfield. He’s intensely watchable and likable, even when Peter’s not at his personal best. We get to see Spider-Man be heroic in a noble way that most comic book movie heroes don’t get to be. I also like that Spider-Man actually looks like Spider-Man in this, costume and physique-wise.

Spider-Man 3

I know that doesn’t seem like much to go on, but after the spate of hyper-serious superhero pictures we’ve been getting lately, good or bad, it’s nice to have one that’s just a big dumb comic book done in a music video style with some good performances by the romantic leads and a hero who most of the time enjoys being a hero.

Overall, The Amazing Spider-Man 2 is cluttered and rushed and full of campy, motivation-lite villains, and it could easily be shorter and no one would be mad, but personally, I thought it was a tonal improvement on the last film and actually made me care that I was watching a movie about Spider-Man. Go figure.

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15 comments

  • What does everyone think about just ignoring Fox & Sony Marvel movies so we can force them to revert the properties back to where they belong?  
    98% of the X-men/Spidey/FF/DD/Ghostrider movies are a ridiculous insult to what the Marvel U is all about.  Ignore them and they will disappear? I understand internationally they will continue to make a fortune, but so what, if China likes them so much, make them for China only!  Who doesn’t want to see a Cap/Wolverine/Spidey spy adventure film?  <3

  • I saw this movie at my local IMAX.  I had a good time.  I really liked the character of Gwen Stacy.  It was nice to see a smart female character.  The of the movie was a fun amusement park ride.  It’s kind of the definition of summer movies. Oh and Andrew Garfield won me over as Spider-Man.

  • @Axel-san: It wasn’t a sell-out by Sony. Marc Webb, the director, was under some weird contract with Fox. He was legally obligated to include the preview or he would have been sued.

  • The Max Dillon theme music is too campy-circusy. It was super distracting and made the tone of the movie go from serious to silly. I want to take bad guys seriously. Spiderman is the funny one.

  • @fartbooty: I think you mean Gwen Stacy, not Mary Jane.

    @Axel-san: it’s also pretty interesting that “Felicia” was the only named character (that I noticed) who wasn’t given a last name.

  • No real spoilers from me, but the last 10 minutes or so of the movie, after the ‘climax’ seem to only be there for a set up and time line for the Sinister Six movie. The first few moments of the credits have the icons of the future Sinister Six going on behind the lettering.
    THERE ARE NO MID NOR END CREDIT BONUS/SET UP SCENES!
    What we get is a Sony sell out to 20th C Fox. The credits stop, they show a 30 second clip from X-Men: DOFP and then start the credits up again. So there is no reason to sit there during the credits.
    I think the best foreshadowing of any future movies might have been the fact that Harry Osborn’s Assistant’s name was Felicia.

  • The Amazing Spider-Man 2 is a fun movie, it has some emotion moments too. I think Spider-Man in this movie is the closest thing to what I pictured him to be as a kid, funny and his costume and build is just like in the graphic novels. All three of the main characters in this film are loveable, Spidey, Mary Jane and Peter. The action’s great, super cool effects and should be seen in 3D. I put this on par with the Lego Movie as two of my favorite movies this summer and if you seen the Lego Movie watch this film. It’s a good date movie too, the chemistry between the two leads are terrific. I love me some Jamie Foxx too, I mean come on he’s Wanda and he’ll “Rock your world!” The Amazing Spider-Man is a roller coaster ride that will have you cheering and maybe even shed a tear, you will leave the theater happy. Spider-Man 2 is my favorite super hero movie and Amazing 2 has it beat! If you disliked Spider-Man 3, The Amazing Spider-Man 2 will erase all the bad memories of that film. Also stay after the credits for more fun scenes. This is equal to the Iron Man films 1 & 3, having Disney as a partner really helps create great movies! If you wanna see a fun movie with heart go watch The Amazing Spider-Man 2!!

  • My biggest complaint with this film isn’t actually the film itself, it’s the amount of footage shown in the trailers we were given. I know I didn’t have to watch the trailers if I didn’t want to, but no trailer (or multitude) of trailers should give away so much of the film. I feel confident in the fact that even a casual Spiderman fan could of pieced together almost the entire story from the trailers. I enjoyed the film, and agree with everything in this review, but I would of enjoyed it a lot more if I hadn’t already seen half of it in the trailers.

    • I agree to an extent but actually a lot of what was in the trailer got left on the cutting room floor. I was actually surprised by how much of the trailer WASN’T in the film.
      The scene with Peter and Harry, “…isn’t that the question of the day” never made it but can only hope that we’ll get a director’s cut or I’ll just have to listen to the director commentary to hear why the scene was cut.
      I loved the film. Sure it was trite in certain areas but I also agree that not every comic book film needs to be transformed into The Usual Suspects. Some times we just want a really cool, fun roller coaster that’s simple to jump in and out of. 
      I think we’re starting to get jaded by all the Nolan moodiness of films rather than just enjoy them for what they are: fantasy on a screen. 

  • I said the exact same thing! Poor development of plot lines and important characters. It was definitely a cheese-tastic movie. I hated the soundtrack – it seemed jarring rather than in sync with the film. Peter and Gwen were great, though. Same goes for the special effects, action sequences, and makeup effects; all were very well done. I’ll still see the many sequels, but I don’t think I’ll spend opening weekend money on them.

  • I love Andrew Garfield. He’s perfect… not a boyscout like whatsisname played him, but sarcastic and cocky, as Spider-Man should be.

    I just hate the way they develop the villains in non-MCU Marvel films. This is an area where deviation from the comics could be a very good thing, especially with the Sinister Six coming up. They should be played more the way Nolan played his villains, where the most outlandish bits are excised. Peter’s story makes sense… why spoil it with finger-steepling villains? Show some real-world greed or something.