Posted by Jesse B. Gill
Amazing Spider-Man 2 is full of great moments. But it’s also full of dumb moments. Really. Dumb. Moments.
My expectations were pretty low for Amazing Spider-Man 2. All I hoped for was that it would be a better film than Marc Webb’s first Spider-Man movie. It wasn’t better. It wasn’t worse. In terms of quality, this film stacks up pretty well with the last.
If you really liked Webb’s first Spidey movie, you’ll like this one. For me, that’s not so much a compliment as it’s a testament to the film’s mediocrity.
Let me start with the good, and despite what negative comments I have about the movie, it really does have some great moments.
The web-swinging sequences are gorgeous. We’ve seen the cool CG THWIPPY stuff before, but it still feels fresh and fun here. Seeing Spidey zip around Manhattan still exhilarates you the way a superhero movie should.
Andrew Garfield, once again, is Peter Parker. I still love Tobey Maguire’s turn as Peter, but I always have to convince myself of who he's supposed to be. Once I do that, he's great. I’ve never once had to do that with Garfield. In both films, he is such a great representation of everything I believe about Peter Parker: he’s funny, he’s smart, he’s a young man with no idea what he’s doing but he’s driven and convicted to do the right thing.
Emma Stone is adorable, but you already knew that. She’s great as a talented and intelligent Gwen Stacy who is trying to live up to her potential while still dabbling in a risky relationship that’s really holding her back. She really seems like a young girl who does normal young girl things (aside from being an OsCorp scientist at like 17). She also seems to lose sight of the fact that she’s dating a superhero...and that comes back to bite her in the end.
Sally Field is the best as Aunt May. She stole my heart over and over in this movie. There’s one scene in particular where she and Peter cry together in a private and touching moment and it may have been the most emotionally heavy scene in the entire film.
Speaking of emotionally heavy scenes, let’s just put it out there: Gwen Stacy’s dead. You all knew it was coming. They telegraphed the crap out of it since they began marketing this movie. And even though you totally know it’s coming, it still hurts when it happens. You don’t want her to die. You want to see Spider-Man save her. And when he can’t, you feel him mourn her because you mourn her yourself.
We hated seeing Gwen die, but that moment may have saved the entire film.
Most of Amazing Spider-Man 2’s weak spots revolve around its villains.
Jamie Foxx is affable and kind of cute as the clumsy, awkward loner Max Dillon. He transforms into Electro by falling victim to one of the many improbable safety hazards at OsCorp and that’s when his character gets dumb. Immensely powerful, Electro is somehow just too campy to take seriously. And though Max Dillon is intelligent enough to design the high-powered electrical gear that eventually give him his powers, he’s too stupid to do anything but take orders from Harry Osborn.
Dane DeHaan is a fantastic actor (go watch Chronicle again) and he almost really shows us what he can do in Amazing Spider-Man 2, but not quite. The son of dying industrialist Norman Osborn (played by Chris Cooper), Harry is back from boarding school to find out he has the same fictional disease that kills his old man. He’s convinced Spider-Man’s blood can save him. And when Spidey declines to give up his, Harry’s all, “I totally hate you now!” And that pretty much takes him through the end of the movie. I just never really bought into Harry's motivation to hate Spider-Man and as a result, everything he does after that just seems forced and kind of stupid.
Rhino. Holy crap, Rhino. First off, if you’ve seen any of the trailers, you’ve already seen Paul Giamatti’s entire performance. He’s in about five minutes of the film, total. Giamatti is another fine actor but watching him as Aleksei Systevich made me feel embarassed for him. It made me feel like he should be embarassed for himself.
Oh, and B.J. Novak is in this movie for absolutely no reason at all. He does nothing.
The first Amazing Spider-Man used music in a really jarring way. The score really kind of hit you over the head with its obviousness and the popular songs chosen didn’t seem to fit. Amazing Spider-Man 2 suffers from the same thing, despite being scored by a supergroup.
In both of Spidey’s confrontations with Electro, music plays a big part. Those two instances may be the dumbest parts of the entire film.
The first time, as Electro is powering up and getting ready to lash out at Spider-Man and a bunch of innocent civilians, there’s some rap-rock track extolling the emotions going through Electro’s head, as if we couldn’t already guess that he wasn’t a heaping bucket of mental health.
The second time, Electro somehow uses musical notes to launch lightning bolts at Spider-Man. “I hate this song!” Spidey says. At least I think that’s what he said. I couldn’t hear him over the sound of my eyes rolling.
Lastly, Amazing Spider-Man 2 plays up the mystery swirling around Peter’s parents and why they left him on Aunt May and Uncle Ben’s doorstep all those years ago. We get a definitive answer: Richard Parker was working on what he thought were medical breakthroughs (yes, involving spiders) but OsCorp wanted to use them as weapons. When he tried to back out, they tried to destroy him and succeeded, at least in the physical sense. Peter mopes around about it in the first act, but solves the mystery by the end of the second and by the third, you realized you never really cared about any of that anyway.
In the end, Amazing Spider-Man 2 was worth seeing. I’ll likely see it again to see how I feel about it on repeated viewings. If you’re a superhero movie fan, you should see it. If you’re a Spider-Man fan, there’s tons you’ll love about it. But will it be the best Spidey movie you’ve ever seen? No. Not by a long shot.
But hey, at least Peter didn’t use Bing this time.
The views and opinions expressed herein are those of the author's alone and do not necessarily reflect the views of Ora Media, LLC, its affiliates, or its employees.