The Amazing Spider-Man 2

The-Amazing-Spider-Man-2-2014-Movie-Poster

Release: Friday, May 2, 2014

[Theater]

His greatest battle begins, and so does mine. . .

The web-slinging hero is back on the big screen in 2014 but it is much to many viewers’ dismay that the final product doesn’t deliver the goods. . .at least, not in terms of doing it the way recent superhero packages have handled things. And while people up and declare the latest chapter in Steve Rogers’ saga as being a bold break from convention within the genre (I am inclined to agree), they ought to give consideration to this non-Marvel film property as well.

My spidey senses are tingling, and they sense a filmmaker desiring to go a different direction as far as the story’s presentation is concerned. Busy with multiple villains offering multiple story arcs that impact on Peter Parker’s double-life in a multitude of ways, the plot to The Amazing Spider-Man 2 is considerably less focused than that of it’s predecessor, as it appears more interested in presenting conflicts and developments episodically rather than condensing information into a taut and dramatic narrative.

As you make these choices, Mr. Webb, keep in mind: with great power comes great responsibility.

It’s another (read: fantastic) day in the life of Spider-Man as he slingshots his way through tight corridors lined with looming edifices and over the heads of captivated (and conveniently placed) on-lookers — plucking children, police officers, even a desperately lonely and low-level OsCorp engineer named Max Dillon (Jamie Foxx) out of harm’s way as an out-of-control tanker truck carrying plutonium samples and driven by a crazed Aleksei Sytsevich (Paul Giamatti) smashes through the city. The chase is pretty convenient for Spidey as he kicks crime’s ass on his way to his high school graduation, where his non-web-spinning girlfriend Gwen Stacy (Emma Stone) is preparing to deliver her valedictorian speech.

At a life crossroads, Peter and Gwen discuss what the future holds. For Gwen, it’s looking like an opportunity to study at Oxford University on a prestigious scholarship; for Peter, it’s likely more tangoing with the criminal underworld. It’s this very reality that drives a wedge in their otherwise idyllic relationship; Gwen says Spider-Man is great and all, but she needs Peter more. And clearly that part of Peter is unwilling to up and drop his duties to the city. Undoubtedly it is this conundrum, this tug-of-war between two souls that drives the film’s drama, rather than the hero’s relationship(s) with the villain(s). Odd that a romance should take precedence over the fantastical concerns of the titular superhero that we were led to believe would comprise his ‘greatest battle,’ but fans of the franchise should take what they can get. After all I’m trying to stay positive here.

The strength of chemistry between leads Emma Stone and Andrew Garfield is a big positive. While their relationship was certainly on solid footing in the previous film, TASM-2 really allows it to blossom. It’s too bad the rest of the film’s backdrop isn’t as compelling. The emergence of foes like Electro — whose chuckle-inducing radiance is the result of an unfortunate (and somewhat predictable) accident involving Max and a tank of electric eels — the Green Goblin, and the Rhino seem less like threats than elements that get shoehorned in to give Spider-Man something to do while contemplating permanently breaking away from Gwen.

In the context of this story, each of these characters come and go in a flash, acting as brief chapters in a much bigger story that will likely encompass this movie and the next. And so, they feel like nothing more than afterthoughts. It’s a tactic that, in addition to making these threats feel a tad wasted, leaves a lot of dead space in between action sequences, a fact that really hampers the film’s pacing and flow. We also aren’t ever afforded the opportunity to really dig into the motives of any of the villains. Even Electro is considerably underdeveloped for being the film’s most immediate threat. Oh. . .right, he wants attention. Whoop-dee-doo. So do I. . . . which is why I developed a movie blog! 😀

Awkward pacing and lots of narrative drift are problems that any general moviegoer is likely to pick up on, though the above is hardly an exhaustive list for those who flat-out reject this franchise as a legitimate entity. It probably doesn’t need to be said that if the first film didn’t do much for you, this one will do much, much less.

While cheesy dialogue is built into the formula of not only this franchise but the one preceding it, levels appear to be left unchecked this time around. It was as if Marc Webb set the dial on ‘Silly’ and left it there. In a variety of contexts, dialogue ranges from eye-rollingly to face-palmingly bad. At times the script can’t possibly seem to be in final draft form. Paul Giamatti’s over-the-top Rhino is exemplary. One hopes he gets more to do in future installments. . .and that his character actually gets to materialize as well. Same applies to Dane DeHaan’s Harry Osborne, a.k.a. the Green Goblin, whose descent into madness is at once very difficult to empathize with, and categorically cliché. Beginning with the obligatory deathbed scene he shares with his rapidly deteriorating father, and culminating in a thoroughly disappointing final fight scene, the Goblin’s story arc feels contrived.

At the end of the day, the film aims at displaying the second chapter in the new Spider-Man canon by casting a web of multiple threats and thematic elements, but it ultimately fails to focus on any one thing. Reiterating, The Amazing Spider-Man has good reason to exist; the Webb-era has ushered in a more emotional and slightly more personal world surrounding Spider-Man and his origins are better accounted for here. But the current story needs to be more than just how well Garfield and Stone get along, even if their dating in real life actually seems to positively influence the film rather than distract from it.

Now let’s just hope they stay together, for I fear if the two split up that that’s exactly how we get Spiderman 3: The Marc Webb Edition. I’m pretty sure I would not be able to handle Andrew Garfield turning into an emo Spider-Man.

zappin-da-beeaaasss

zappin’ da beeaasss!

2-5Recommendation: Though it falls pretty far short of being a superior version that expands upon its predecessor’s ambition, this follow-up still offers a lot of the emotional release that the first one did, and the visuals in this film are pretty spectacular. In fact, they are amazing and truly deserving of that description. Less so is the script, which may turn away even a fair amount of fans. Not being the most devout reader of the comic, but a supporter of the re-boot all the same, I really and truly believe Marc Webb could have done better. This isn’t a bad film but it certainly is guilty of underachieving.

Rated: PG-13

Running Time: 142 mins.

Quoted: “Hey, lick that. You are not a nobody, you are a somebody. You’re my eyes and ears out here.”

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Photo credits: http://www.impawards.com; http://www.imdb.com

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35 thoughts on “The Amazing Spider-Man 2

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  2. Excellent review, Tom. Watched it recently only & reviewed it a few minutes ago… The only part where it didn’t disappoint me was that I was expecting it to be disappointed by it 😛

    • Cheers man! SO. . . ..did you like it then? Lol I’m not sure if you mean it let you down or you were surprisingly not let down. . .but I’ll assume you mean you. . . weren’t. . . disappointed. ? 🙂 lol

      Overall there was some fun to be had here, but it was lacking in intelligence a bit for my tastes.

      • It means that I was expecting the film to be at best 2/5 stuff. And it turned out to be exactly that.. 2/5 stuff. I enjoyed bashing it in my review more than I enjoyed watching it on the big screen 😛

        Hop by whenever you got time 😉

  3. “…dialogue ranges from eye-rollingly to face-palmingly bad.” Lololol. I’d have to agree on that point. I know comic book movies are supposed to be at least a teensy bit cheesy, but some of that dialogue…woof. I enjoyed it well enough–and it sounds like you enjoyed aspects of it, too–but it definitely could’ve been better. Here’s hoping the third one has a little more focus. Good review, my friend!

    • Yeah, indeed Cara there were some parts that were just a bit too much! And looking back now I think the character of Rhino was meant to be completely over-the-top cheesy so I almost want to give him a break. But there were other examples. Idk, I just had higher hopes I suppose. Thanks so much for reading! 🙂 🙂

  4. This is the truth. After further consideration, I started to appreciate some aspects of the film more than I originally did. When it ended, I was a tad more annoyed. However, I still have a fair bit of issues along with the ones you mentioned. First of all, the soundtrack was awful in my eyes at parts. The well-known hits did not fit some of the scenes and distracted me so much that I actually mentioned it haha. Did you notice that as well out of curiosity?

    The other issue is one that I had with the first and now in this one. The majority of video-game looking battles offered in these flicks is simply no fun. Electro verse Spidey was a bore! The only fight that looked interesting was with Rhino at the end….but eh…that was just a tease!

    • Yeah, the battle sequences were subpar here I must admit. Given the crappy writing on top of that, and this made the follow-up to one of my favorite new superhero movies a very big letdown. But I guess they can’t all be winners. All the Marvel properties seemed to get better as they went on (I guess some people will argue the exception with Iron Man). Maybe that’s a sign that Sony needs to quit dicking around and just hand over the property to Marvel and everything can be hunky-dory again.

      I liked in your review how you pointed that out. It’s just so awkward how evident it is that the situations surrounding Spidey are separate from the situations versus the collective Avengers team by a simple contract, a piece of paper. It’s so stupid. In fact, it’s gotten to the point where isn’t it weird to think of seeing the Avengers near Spider-man? Sharing screen time with each other? What? What is that?!

    • Sometimes that’s the job, sir. Sometimes. . .that is the job. It’s a pity this couldn’t have slung its way to greater heights, but for what it’s worth, this wasn’t so so bad that I see no reason for the franchise to continue (which it’s obviously going to. . and I’d be surprised if it stops at three, personally). Here’s to hoping #3 is a step back up 😀

  5. Good review Tom. When its messiness shows, the movie is confusing and over-packed like hell. However, when everything is settled down and simple, it’s fun, exciting and exactly what I could have wanted with a superhero movie released in the summer.

    • Good points dude, there were some good sequences sure. I also liked the relationship — that seemed to hold some of the fragile pieces together. But the fact that it remained so unfocused and seemed to have no real purpose introducing certain villains really disappointed me. This could have been a better product IMO.

      I will agree, we could do worse for a kick-off to the summer blockbuster season!

  6. Brilliant review Tom. The relationship twist is definitely the best element to The Amazing Spider-Man 2, and hopefully DeHaan is rewarded with a bigger role in future outings – I’m sure he will be. Otherwise, this one’s pretty forgettable!

    Adam.

    • Cheers Adam. The romance at the heart delivers a gut-punch to be sure. I really dug that part of this. I’m sure DeHaan will factor in more later. The way Green Goblin’s story arced in this one leads me to believe he’ll have much more sway in the third and the Sinister Six franchise. Thanks for coming by man!

  7. “a supporter of the re-boot all the same, I really and truly believe Marc Webb could have done better. This isn’t a bad film but it certainly is guilty of underachieving”

    Yep, same here. I had fun, and I loved the visuals, Garfield, Stone and Field, but the writing was horrid.

    • It was. I kept bracing for this too, even though I kept my review sampling prior to my viewing at a minimum, as I didn’t want to ruin anything for myself or become too cautious about it. I managed to do that anyway, and then still I was more than a little surprised to see such low standard of quality here. A definite step-down from the first I’m afraid. . .

    • Schizo Spider. His duel identities are the result of one seriously cruel mental illness.

      Yeah, it was a long movie too I thought. Mainly due to such a scattered story. Episodic, I’m telling you. It was like watching the comic play out in a movie, with each frame being a single scene or something. Idk. . .this approach was just odd. And a poor decision

    • I enjoy the new tone established in this series too. And I really like the update with Andrew Garfield as Spider-Man and the love interest being Gwen Stacy and not M.J. And Emma Stone is well-cast. I like a lot of this second film but to me there were so many issues I had to bring the score down accordingly. Very glad to hear it did right by you, though Tim. I’ll probably watch this again, but it wasn’t what I had hoped for. I had hopes of something more. . .epic.

    • Yeah unfortunately my argument couldn’t get away from that either, it’s just too obvious not to comment on. I didn’t also think the way Marc Webb went about setting this up as if a longer chapter in an actual comic book really helped things, either. There’s a lot of meandering going on and we just wait for one of the villains to eventually pop up on screen for the obligatory action sequences, which, admittedly, those are pretty fun.

      I liked Garfield and Stone again. Just felt the story could have been much stronger and had more of an identity. It really didn’t know what to be

  8. I didn’t think the relationship between Gwen and Peter really worked. There seems to be chemistry between the actors (because they’re a real life couple) but not between the characters. His interactions with girlfriend Gwen Stacy feel like manufactured affectations that cause the couple to conventionally fall in love, break up, get back together at various intervals for the sole purpose of romantic conflict. That’s just what couples are supposed to do apparently and so they do it, because the script compels them to do so. But there is no genuine feeling behind it. Everything they do is perfunctory.

    It wasn’t my biggest problem with the film. We had similar thoughts on that. I only mention this aspect because it’s the one thing that even detractors of the film seem to like.

    Sounds like you enjoyed it for the most part (although 4/8 sounds a bit harsh given all the mild praise) Great review!

    • I enjoyed a good bit of it, but actually for the most part I was pretty annoyed by this movie. I wasn’t willing to go any higher than 4/8 since the writing was just so terrible throughout and characters were at times beyond silly. Things started off on that classic feel-good type of spirit — the introductory banter between Spidey and Aleksei was kind of entertaining but then as the film went on things got worse. I am a big fan of the original. And the fact I could not rectify the weaknesses here says something about the overall product.

      I really tried and wanted to love this one as much as the first, but not even close. Anxious to say the least about installment #3.

  9. Great review Tom. I agree, some of the dialogue was so embarrassingly cheesy and all. I must say that I LOVED Dane DeHaan, and really wished they had worked more with him. This was not as strong as it’s predecessor, but definitely not the worst out there. It was fun, just not fantastic, like The Winter Soldier.

    Say… did you ever get around to The First Avenger?

    • Thanks kindly friend!! Good about you liking DeHaan, he wasn’t the worst of all of this, I will say that. I’ll leave it up to just a hurried script and an overexcitement to reveal a new batch of villains that made this film a weaker and more flimsy production than what came before it. That said, I really do love Andrew Garfield as Spider-Man. I think he’s as good as Bale is in Batman. I really do. He’s perfect. More of him is mostly the reason why I’m gonna see the third and whatever else is coming

      • I think you are onto something there hey. He is the BEST Spider-Man, glad you agree! He is hilarious and is a perfect Peter Parker AND Spider-Man! Agreed there, though I will (like this one) be returning for DeHaan!

    • oh, and crap! No, I still am yet to get to the First Avenger! 😛 lol

      There’s been a lot of basketball-viewing lately and movies have been not as common. Actually, no. . that’s a lie. Movie blogging has slacked off! hah!

      • 😉

        Telling me. Only one Bite Sized Review last month. Pretty sure a record-low number of comments i’ve left. Gah! *blog stress*. Nah, not really. But I aim to catch up. 😀

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