When we first see Spider-Man in, The Amazing Spider-Man 2, he is free falling through the city of New York. He’s in his classic red, and blue suit, he’s web-slinging like I’ve never seen Spidey web-sling like before. You hear the news chopper talk about a hijacking turned car chase, and you see Spider-Man head towards the scene. The scene gives us the wise-cracking Spidey, who’s not only worried about stopping the chase, but also protecting the random citizens who are getting caught in the middle of everything. This is the Spider-Man we’ve have not seen in any of the movies before, at least not one that is portrayed, and executed this perfectly.
The Amazing Spider-Man 2 gave me the Spider-Man I’ve always wanted to see on screen, and for that I’m thankful. However, that is as far as my compliments go. Because, after that scene, The Amazing Spider-Man 2, turns into an inconsistent, bloated, and nonsensical mess.
The biggest problem with The Amazing Spider-Man 2 is that it never stops being a studio film. It’s as if the producers gave the writers, and director a must have list, and you can see the filmmakers checking items off the list. The producers never allow Director Marc Webb, the creative control this movie could have benefited from.
The only moments in The Amazing Spider-Man 2 that have Webb’s undivided attention are the rom-com moments between Peter Parker and Gwen Stacy. It’s here where Webb feels more at home, which isn’t surprising coming from the guy who directed 500 Days of Summer. Those moments in the film are a real highlight. Andrew Garfield, and Emma Stone have great chemistry together, after all, they are a couple offscreen as well. They play off each other incredibly well, so well, that when their scenes end, and the action picks up the movie loses it’s heart, and my interest.
Garfield is a really great Spider-Man. The way he recites his lines, the way he cocks his head while in the suit, his mannerisms, just everything about him is Spider-Man. Which pains me to talk about how the movie is such a disservice to the character thematically, especially Peter Parker. Because, the movie nails Spider-Man, but it fails in it’s understanding of Peter Parker.
The Amazing Spider-Man 2 fails to understand the struggle of being Peter Parker. It fails to understand what the people around him mean to him. It fails to understand who Peter Parker’s real father figure is. One of the problems Peter has always had, was his inability to properly balance being Peter Parker, and being Spider-Man. Here, Peter’s personal life isn’t that bad. He can be Spider-Man, and still be on time for his graduation. Sure, his Spider-Man outfit turns the rest of his laundry red, and blue, but it’s far from the fact that Peter Parker in past incarnations, lost any job, or relationship because of his lack of punctuality, the secrets he kept, and, just, the burden of being Spider-Man. Here, Peter gets to eat his cake, and enjoy it too.
Also, I can’t believe that Peter has given up on finding Uncle Ben’s killer. Instead, choosing to find out what really happened to the parents who abandoned him, and chose to escape the country on a private jet, and not to leave any money behind for his son. Let’s not forget where his father’s secret lab turns out to be. When The Amazing Spider-Man claimed that we’d find out the untold story of Peter Parker parents, but never delivered on it, everyone expected them to continue the story in the sequel. They did, but at the cost of Peter’s relationship with Uncle Ben. There’s a great line at the end of Rami’s Spider-Man, where Peter tells Norman Osbourne, “I had a father, his name was Ben Parker.” The Amazing Spider-Man 2 chooses to pay more emphasis on the loss of Peter’s parents, more on his father, than someone who actually raised him. This backstory with his parents also ruined the origin of Spider-Man for me, because it made Spider-Man, Peter’s destiny, and not an accident he chose to eventually accept, and do something good with.
Also, their Peter Parker is an idiot. I thought Peter was a nerd. Here, he looks up a video on Youtube about batteries, only to not succeed with his experiments, and have Gwen Stacy give him the answer later. How did he even develop his web shooters in the first place?!?
All of these problems trace back to massive issues with the movie’s script. Written by Alex Kurtzman, Robert Orci, and Jeff Pinker, the film suffers a lot from a script that only serves to get characters from one action set piece to another, at the cost of any real character motivation, or a thematic through point. The closest you’ll get to a thematic through point is a lot of characters saying the word hope, as if just saying that word is enough. This movie would have been the perfect chance for the filmmakers to teach Spider-Man the first lesson he always learns, and really should learn first, is that, with great power comes great responsibility. Instead, they choose to include moments where Gwen Stacy is giving a speech about how short life is, juxtaposed to Spidey getting shot at. Not to mention the final fight scene, and the symbolism that is filled with. It’s all just cliched, and lazy.
Going into The Amazing Spider-Man 2 people were worried that the film would suffer from the same problems as Spider-Man 3, and it does. The real problem isn’t that the film has too many villains, which it does, but that the motivations of these villains are never truly realized, and that sense of everything being rushed so we can get to the action is always evident. You could take out Electro, and there would be almost no change to the script. The Amazing Spider-Man 2 is more concerned about world building, and setting up future sequels than it is about telling a proper Spidey story.
Also, Devin Faraci from Badass Digest, pointed out the Joel Schumacher like influences in The Amazing Spider-Man 2, and now, I can’t un see them. It just makes this movie feels more cartoonish and something that looks, and feels like it came out in the 90s alongside, Batman & Robin. Examples, include, Electro bouncing Spider-Man off electrical pylons while creating the Itsy Bitsy Spider song, Dane DeHaan singing the jeopardy song while he threatens to kill a guy, because, hey, incase he didn’t know his life was in jeopardy, that song surely lets him know now.
Speaking of Dane DeHaan, this is probably his worst performance to date. It goes from pouty to completely deranged. It comes across as a manic version of the Joker, complete with lips licking after he turns into the Goblin. It’s just a hammed up performance where the script never gives him much to do, only requiring him to be shady, and get angry a lot. Even though his anger seems misdirected, and rushed in many situations. You needed more time, and scenes to properly understand his character, and for the Harry/Peter relationship to have any real weight to it. Scenes where they’re talking about how they used to be friends is not enough, more was required, because it already feels like they have fallen out before the movie actually has them fall out.
There’s no breathing room in the script. Character moments that aren’t between Peter or Gwen or Peter and Aunt May, just fall flat, with awkward dialogue, and nonsensical moments progressing the story forward. It’s trying to do too much, balancing a love story, the mystery behind the death of Peter’s parents, the introduction and radical changes of characters we were just introduced too, and set up a shared universe for future Spider-Man movies.
The Amazing Spider-Man 2 does a bunch of stuff really well, but it is filled with so many issues, such as, a problematic script, meaningless character decisions, and a story that’s just juggling way too much. Is there even a story, because I couldn’t tell. It’s a bunch of ideas, that the producers wanted to check off before moving the franchise forward. Address the mystery of Peter’s parents, check. Some Peter and Gwen romance stuff, check. Electro, because we need big action sequences, check. Introduce Harry Osbourne so that his arc just leads to the next movie, check. Drop a ton of Sinister Six references, without explaining any, check. The Amazing Spider-Man is film made by the producers. Producers who have no idea what makes Spider-Man who he is, and are more interested in cashing in on the brand.
Garfield and Stone are so good, that you can’t help, but feel disappointed that they aren’t in a movie that is on the same level as them. I’ve meet people who have enjoyed parts of The Amazing Spider-Man 2, and chose to overlook it’s problems because the stuff that is good, is really good, but I couldn’t do it. I was disappointed at first, but then I got really angry, because Spidey deserves a better movie than this. A lot of people throw Rami’s movies under the bus, but they are way better than the reboot. I’d recommend you watch The Amazing Spider-Man 2, because you might end up liking it, it’s a decisive movie, one that masks it’s problems by rushing from one scene to another, but when you start to think and breakdown the movie, it starts to fall apart. It’s all flash, and zero substance.
Score: 4.5 out of 10.