The Amazing Spider-Man 2
Director(s): Marc Webb
Writer(s): Alex Kurtzman, Roberto Orci and Jeff Pinkner
Cast: Andrew Garfield, Emma Stone, Jamie Foxx, Dane DeHaan, Colm Feore, Felicity Jones, Paul Giamatti and Sally Field
Reviewed by: Ian Evans on
Release Date(s)May 2, 2014 - Wide
Peter Parker (Andrew Garfield) doesn’t have the same issues usually faced by most high school grads. On the same day that his girlfriend, Gwen Stacy (Emma Stone), is valedictorian he finds himself dressed as his alter-ego Spider-Man and battling a Russian mobster intent on stealing plutonium.
But that’s the life of our web-slinging wisecracking hero. He has a lot on his plate, whether it be the promise he made to Gwen’s late father to stay away from her so she’s not in danger or his continuing quest to find out what actually happened to his parents. Just when he thinks he has time to deal with his emotional issues over breaking up with Gwen or argue with Aunt May (Sally Field) about laundry, the city needs him again.
Gwen still works at Oscorp, a company that must have a great benefits package because they’re still dealing with the fallout over the whole Dr. Curt Connors/Lizard incident and they also give off this creepy evil empire/big brother vibe. One of Oscorp’s low-level employees, a continually ignored and mistreated Max Dillon (Jamie Foxx), becomes the electricity-throwing menace Electro with a hate for Spider-Man after an industrial accident, Meanwhile, the entitled heir to Oscorp, Harry Osborn (Dane DeHaan), a childhood friend of Peter’s, uses Electro’s hatred to his advantage as he believes his terminal illness can be cured by Spidey’s blood.
If all of this seems like a lot for Peter Parker to deal with, well it is. Writers Alex Kurtzman, Roberto Orci and Jeff Pinker have given returning director Marc Webb a lot to deal with and every minute of the film’s 142 minutes are crammed with everything but the kitchen sink.
Andrew Garfield and Emma Stone, a real-life couple, toss off more sparks than Electro as they deal with their on-again/off-again romance but we no sooner get into a nice groove with one of their scenes then we’re back to some CGI-heavy 3D action scene. The film has roughly four major villains and they’re not given the time to grow. Paul Giamatti’s Aleksei Sytsevich/Rhino is essentially a bookend preparing us for future sequels. While we do see how Dillon’s social isolation and Spider-Man obsession can lead to the nastier turn of events when he becomes Electro, we actually see less of his personality after he’s become a menace to the power grid. Meanwhile, Harry’s instant transformation from brooding heir to temper tantrum-throwing schemer happens faster then a five-year-old’s explosion in a supermarket checkout line. I would have liked to have seen more growth from both of these characters.
So I’m of two minds with this movie just as I think this movie is of two minds in itself. The aptly-named Webb, cinematographer Dan Mindel, and the whole effects team give us a thrill a minute roller-coaster during the action scenes as Spider-Man sails through the skyline of New York, chasing cars, saving babies and battling multiple villains. The film also slows down nicely as we deal with Peter and Gwen, Peter and his past and Peter and Aunt May. The two separate pieces don’t always meld together well though, like the cinematic version of a square peg in a round hole. There’s enough story and villains here to give us two films, both of which would be enjoyable, but together they create a film you want to love fully but can’t totally commit to.
On a side note, I have to write a public service announcement to the fictional citizens of New York. When superheroes and supervillains are fighting, when police cars and buses roll over and explode, when men in metal suits shoot large calibre machine guns, don’t stand behind conveniently-placed police barricades and watch like an audience at a golf tournament. Run away! Just sayin’.