Every now and again a film comes along that has a lot of potential but just can’t quite reach the levels it is striving for. “The Amazing Spider-Man 2” is such a film. A follow-up to the unnecessary 2012 reboot, this sequel follows Spidey (Andrew Garfield), as he struggles to deal with his emotions towards Gwen Stacy (Emma Stone) while at the same time battling a new supervillain known as Electro (Jamie Foxx). Marc Webb directs.
The first “Amazing Spider-Man” was simply alright. There were a lot of creative ideas and potential, however it was weighed down by numerous similarities to the Sam Raimi Spider-Man trilogy, as well as a very underwhelming villain. This sequel manages to fix some mistakes that bogged down the original film, however many issues still linger.
First things first, Andrew Garfield is a very good Peter Parker. He nails Spider-Man’s sarcastic attitude, even in the middle of conflict, and has solid chemistry with Stone, as well as Sally Field, who plays Aunt May.
Speaking of character chemistry, that is by and far the strong point of “Amazing Spider-Man 2”. Marc Webb, who directed the rom-com “500 Days of Summer”, is very good at directing emotional scenes, making them feel genuine and human. The film has plenty of funny pieces of dialogue, and there are a few lump-in-the-throat inducing moments as well.
Unfortunately, the film did not learn from the first go around in the villain department. The Lizard was underdeveloped and lacked any real motive in the first film, not to mention his design wasn’t too impressive either. Here the film goes 0 for 3, missing with Electro, Rhino (Paul Giamatti) and Green Goblin (Dane DeHaan). All three have no true motives for their actions, are underwritten and not one of them affects the plot; I’m not even kidding, except for the end battle, the movie would be completely unchanged if none of the villains were in the film.
A superhero film should be driven BY the villain, not simply FEATURING one. Look at “Spider-Man 2”: Peter has his own issues and is fighting the choices he has to make, but Doc Ock is featured as a fleshed-out character and is ultimately the reason Peter decides that he has to be Spider-Man. None of that is present here. Rhino is essentially a cameo, Electro is cliché (think of Jim Carrey’s Riddler story arc from “Batman Forever”) and the Goblin is shoehorned in to fill a plot point and set up a spin-off film. I also wasn’t a fan of the design of Goblin and Rhino, but that is purely personal opinion.
The battles are well-shot (although most every action scene is shown in the trailer) and the interactions between Gwen and Peter are entertaining, but “Amazing Spider-Man 2” cannot overcome the cluttered plot and indecisive narrative. I almost feel bad for kids who have this as their staple Spider-Man. When the Raimi films came out, I remember how much everyone in my school loved them, and I distinctly remember seeing “Spider-Man 2” and being blown away (it’ll be the 10 year anniversary next month). Unfortunately there’s just nothing awe-inspiring or memorable about this new series.
“The Amazing Spider-Man 2” is at its best when Spider-Man isn’t on screen, and in a film with the word “Spider-Man” in the title, I’m not sure how much of a positive that is. The film is entertaining, for sure, and I was never bored, but at more than on occasion I was sitting in my seat thinking “why does this movie exist?”. There’s a point in the film when Electro says, “I will show everyone what it’s like to live in a world without Spider-Man”. If only he could actually make that happen…
Critics Rating: 6/10