The Amazing Spider-Man 2 Review
Director: Marc Webb
Cast Headliners: Andrew Garfield, Emma Stone, Dane Dehaan, Jamie Foxx
Original Release Date: May 2nd, 2014
It seems like the most famous superheroes have the most troubled careers in the cinemas. Unlike the stream of Avengers-related movies, Batman and Superman went through periods of downtime and Spiderman faced his own problems. 2012’s The Amazing Spiderman reboot faced the difficulty of having to balance starting things fresh with a new world while also surprising the viewers. It mostly was a success, and while it did heavily re-use from the 2002 Raimi directed first film it also brought a fresh feeling with its new younger cast of Andrew Garfield as Peter Parker and Emma Stone as Gwen Stacy as highlights. Lurking in the background of the movie was new content to the Spiderman mythos, seeds for deeper meanings to the web-crawling hero. In The Amazing Spiderman 2, many of those seeds sprout and the results are not always the best.
Spiderman/Peter Parker continues to roam around New York City doing typical superhero antics (I must mention the great new re-design of his costume, really being nearly perfect to the comics) which is causing friction with both Gwen and his Aunt May (Sally Field). Once again the themes here seem to be borrowed from the previous trilogy but luckily the relationship between Peter and Gwen has some quality charming writing and scenes. Garfield and Stone are the acting heart of this movie and give overarching glue to its many other jagged and jumbled pieces.
Let’s get to those jagged and jumbled pieces. The romantic plotline is fine enough, but when other bits of humor appear they are often very lame. What makes Garfield portray a good Spiderman is how he brings a charisma even when wearing the costume through one-liners, just as the hero from the comics should. But the lines here are often very cheesy and corny and not even in a comic’s way. At times Garfield seems to be slightly half-trying (although as just Peter Parker he continues the same decent trend from the last film). This is not helped by overwhelmingly annoying stereotypical characters such as the hardly believable Aleksei Systevich(played by Paul Giamatti in what might be the lowest point of his career) or the minor “Dr.Kafka” head of the Ravencroft prison who reminded me of something out of a Animaniacs cartoon. There are just a lot of minor things which makes one question why they put them into this movie.
What is a superhero movie without its bad guys though? Don’t be deceived by the promotion, as the Rhino well can be said to be merely a speck on the whole film. The plot involves two supervillains for Spiderman to contend with. Jamie Foxx plays Max Dillon. Max‘s storyline is a sad one as he is not appreciated by anyone at all because he’s kind of insane which Foxx gives the character a very different zany kind of depth than the characters he usually plays. An accident transforms him into the fearsome Electro who has dangerous abilities to control energy. He may have some wonky lines and may make dubstep music with his environment (as I said questionable choices on director Marc Webb’s part) but those are also good factors. The plot in ASM2 is kind of all over the place but he is another strong point of it.
Now that other villain, and the rest of the plot, does feel like it could have perhaps been suited to have been cut out and put in another film, as this originally featured Mary Jane Watson and Black Cat as well. Another new person in Peter’s life is his old childhood friend Harry Osborne, played by Dane Dehaan. Dehaan was a brilliant choice, but there are some awkward lines delivered by him (not his fault). Once he assumes, non-surprisingly, the mantle of the Green Goblin he is very laughable which is not helped by the un-convincing design which looks like Harry has just gone through a bad hair day. Harry is part of the plot fine enough but his transformation into the Green Goblin is offensively late into the film. There’s also the anti-climactic resolution the plot about Peter’s parents, which had Sony had built up to be some massive mind-blowing mystery but in the end if one doesn’t pay close enough attention they’ll miss the messages its trying to send.
Despite flaws with some of its characters, plot , and dialogue there are some other bright points. The musical score by Hans Zimmer is notably great, a rare treat for a superhero film these days which have often sounded generic. But the score covers all kinds of genres from electronic to orchestral ; it feels very progressive. It helps the excitement of the action sequences, which do look very cool and are fun to watch. For better or worse the scale of the world of Spiderman has really been dialed up for this one.
This movie is trying to do too many things at once. It had to act as a sequel to the first, surprise audiences who have seen the first three Spiderman movies, followup on the origins/Peter’s parents storyline, deal with Peter/Gwen’s relationship, introduce not one but two new villians, and also leave hints towards the future Sinister Six/Venom movies. So its understandable if it turned out rough. Spiderman’s seen better days, but he also has had a worst day before (Spiderman 3…) A decent movie, hopefully they learn from the mistakes of this one. 7.6 out of 10