The Amazing Spider-Man 2 (2014) Review

Time: 142 Minutes
Age Rating: 860940[1] Violence
Cast:
Andrew Garfield as Peter Parker/Spider-Man
Emma Stone as Gwendolyn “Gwen” Stacy
Jamie Foxx as Max Dillon/Electro
Dane DeHaan as Harry Osborn/Green Goblin
Colm Feore as Donald Menken
Felicity Jones as Felicia Hardy
Paul Giamatti as Aleksei Sytsevich/Rhino
Sally Field as Aunt May
Campbell Scott as Richard Parker
Embeth Davidtz as Mary Parker
Marton Csokas as Dr. Kafka
Director: Marc Webb

Confident in his powers as Spiderman, Peter Parker (Andrew Garfield) embraces his new role as a hero and spends time with Gwen Stacy (Emma Stone) in between protecting New York from criminals. However, his greatest battle yet is about to begin. With the emergence of Electro (Jamie Foxx), Peter must confront an enemy far more powerful than he is. And when his old friend Harry Osborn (Dane Dehaan) returns, Peter comes to realise that all his enemies have one thing in common: Oscorp.

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I have been re-watching the Spider-Man movies in preparation for Spider-Man Homecoming in July. Over the course of these movies I’ve noticed that I’ve been generally liking the Spider-Man movies, I even consider Spider-Man 3 to be a solid movie despite the amount of hate its been getting. I remember when I first watched The Amazing Spider-Man 2 in theatres, I really liked it. Sure, I knew it had issues but I found it to be a decent and entertaining movie overall. I rewatched it recently for the first time in a few years and… it has far more issues than I picked up before. This movie is okay, and it does have some great elements. But a lot of it is mishandled. This movie is shockingly clunky and messy at times, and we are left with an incredibly frustrating and disappointing – if above average Spider-Man movie.

Not to say that there aren’t some great moments, but I won’t lie, this movie is a bit of a mess. Like Spider-Man 3, there is so much going on, too much going on. We’ve got Peter and Gwen’s romance, Peter discovering what happened with his father and Oscorp, Max Dillon (Jamie Foxx) becoming Electro, Harry Osborn (Dane Dehaan) trying to find a cure to his Goblin disease after inheriting it from his father, and it’s also trying to set up for future movies. Despite both Spider-Man 3 and Amazing Spider-Man 2 having a whole lot going on in their movies, all the flaws in 3’s plotlines were clearly caused from Rami being forced to fit them all into one movie, the plotlines themselves were actually pretty good those issues aside. With Amazing Spider-Man 2, calling the plotlines hit or miss would be an understatement. If I had to describe this movie, I’d say it’s almost like Spider-Man 3, but done poorly. I’ll try to break down the issues with some of these plotlines. The plotline about Peter discovering what happened to his father and his ties to Oscorp was unnecessary, it leads to an completely predictable ‘plot twist’ that everyone saw coming, Oscorp is basially bad, which I’m certain everyone has already figured out before the movie even started. There wasn’t really a reason for the movie to have this subplot, it just sort of emerges around the middle of the movie randomly. Removing it from the movie would’ve allowed time to develop other plotlines (the plotline itself is done okay, it’s just feels unnecessary). The future movies setup feels forced and unnecessary. It introduces Felicia Hardy (Felicity Jones) to be Black Cat later in the franchise (which we never got to see) and there’s of course the failed attempt to setup the Sinister Six with Electro, Green Goblin and Rhino. Without giving anything away, there is a scene with Harry Osborn near the end of the movie which is done to set up the Sinister Six and it just sort of comes out of nowhere, there’s no explanation for why the group is being created in the first place. It also doesn’t help that the villains themselves in this movie weren’t given enough development. I’ll go into more depth with the other plotlines involving Peter and Gwen’s Romance, Max Dillon and Harry Osborn when I talk about the performances. But you can probably tell that I had issues with all of them. That’s not to say that these plotlines are all bad, they do have their moments and many of the ideas had a lot of potential. But they could’ve and should’ve been handled a lot better. Another thing worth mentioning is the tone. It’s like this movie didn’t know which tone to go with. At times it’s dark and emotional with these intense and emotional scenes, other times it is a romantic comedy with Peter and Gwen and other times its an incredibly cheesy action movie, with one-liners and over the top performances. And when I’m talking cheesy, I’m meaning like there is literally a random scene involving a generic evil German scientist (played by Marton Csokas), who likes to listen to classical music (this is in a scene with Electro), basically a cartoonish over the top mad scientist. It’s one of the most over the top cliché characters/moments in the film, and that’s saying a lot. Looking back at that scene, I guess it works in a cheesy way (like in the way that Spider-Man 1 was cheesy), but the issue is that other parts of the movie aren’t as cheesy, so it just comes across as stupid when it pops up. Say what you will about the cheesiness in Spider-Man 1 but at least it was consistent. As for the humour, some of it works, some of it really doesn’t. And again, sometimes the humour is out of place, just like other elements of the movie. The last act is incredibly rushed. The two villains are suddenly fighting Spider-Man and each only take up to 3-5 minutes to defeat, they have even less screentime than Venom in Spider-Man 3. There is a sudden dramatic turn in the third act and while it could’ve been handled better, it does partially work (if you’ve seen the movie you know exactly what scene I’m referring to). As for the actual ending of the movie… it was not that great of an ending, it felt forced and rushed. That’s all I’ll say about that.

The editing of the movies wasn’t that good either. The scene placements are frustrating, sometimes they didn’t fit. For example, there is an intense horror-like transformation scene which is immediately followed by a Peter and Gwen romantic scene, which is completely tonally off, such a confusingly out of place editing decision. Other times the editing decisions just straight up makes the movie worse. For example, Harry in one scene asks Spider-Man for his blood to help save his life, and Spider-Man refuses. In a later scene, Peter learns why he couldn’t give his blood to Harry, those two scenes should’ve been swapped around, because otherwise Peter just seems like a terrible friend. I have no idea if it was written that way or if was changed through editing, but either way, the way the film presented these events didn’t work the best. It’s worth noting that many of these scenes are fine if you watch them on their own, but seeing them in the movie itself really decreases their quality. The first Amazing Spider-Man did lack some scenes (which would’ve really made the villain stronger had they been included) but it didn’t feel like a ton of footage was missing. However, with the sequel it is incredibly obvious that tons of scenes were cut. And it’s even more astonishing when you actually see some of the scenes that were cut. Simple scenes that explains aspects of the movie and develops some of the characters a little more, all of this should’ve been included and keep in mind that some of the footage didn’t even make it onto home video, there’s probably even more footage that was cut which would’ve made the movie better. On another note, the alternate ending is a lot better than the original ending. It’s very different and surprising but the original ending feels forced and not really earned (not to mention Paul Giamatti’s Rhino makes the ending even worse). The alternate ending is a lot quieter and emotional, and was overall the more impactful ending. I guess Sony just wanted to set up the Sinister Six and saw that as more important than the actual better ending for the film.

Andrew Garfield returns as Peter Parker/Spider-Man and he is still my favourite Spider-Man. With that said I had some issues with Peter/Spider-Man here, none of which is on Garfield, he absolutely commits to the part. My biggest issue with his Spider-Man is that he’s involved with so many plotlines at once in this movie and none of them worked together well enough for him to have a consistent arc. Spider-Man 3 made that work by tying the black symbiote suit with the storylines of Sandman and Harry, The Amazing Spider-Man 2 doesn’t give Peter a consistent arc however. So Peter did feel like a weak character unfortunately, he was at his best in the Richard Parker/Oscorp storyline, which ironically is one of the subplots that was pointless. Emma Stone is again great as Gwen Stacy. The issue with their romance subplot isn’t the actors, Garfield and Stone are effortlessly watchable and lovable together. The issue is that its jumbled with all these other plotlines that it wasn’t handled the best, so throughout all the other plotlines, it would just randomly cut to the two of them for no reason. Now with that said, there is stuff going on with the two of them, with Gwen moving to England and this affects their relationship, there was a lot of potential for this subplot. However it wasn’t balanced well in the movie. Still, it doesn’t change that fact that Peter and Gwen are one of the best romances in superhero movies, there’s no denying that. Watching the two of them talk and interact is endlessly entertaining, and you do actually care about them, which is why a certain scene with them in the third act really works, despite how out of place it is (no spoilers).

In this movie, we’ve got Jamie Foxx as Max Dillon/Electro and Dane Dehaan as Harry Osborn/Green Goblin as the main villains. First, let’s talk about Jamie Foxx. You have to give Foxx credit, because some of the things he has to do and say is kind of embarrassing, and Jamie threw himself completely into the role. Max Dillon isn’t given enough development and becomes a generic villain after he becomes Electro. I do like the initial idea of his character. Before turning into Electro, Max Dillon is a bit of a loner and an awkward guy, no one really likes him, he doesn’t get any respect. He believes that Spider-Man is his friend after one encounter (however he does play up the role way too much, its like he’s playing a cartoon character). If you’re thinking that it sounds familiar, that’s because that’s pretty much Riddler’s origin in Batman Forever. Cheesy dialogue and familiar scenarios aside, the major reason about why Electro doesn’t work is after the first action scene with Spider-Man. After the fight ends in an embarrassingly simple way, Electro is out of commission until he’s suddenly brought back for the climax for 5 minutes. There is no development of Electro after his villainous turn, so at that point there’s not much to like or care about him except for the nice visuals. So Foxx is wasted and misued in the role. It doesn’t help that his dialogue is cliché and silly with such classic lines like “It’s my birthday, time to blow out my candles” and “Don’t you know, I’m Electro”. That’s not to say that there aren’t some good things about him, the action with him is great, I love his look, and his voice is perfect. Electro isn’t a terrible villain but he’s not that good of a villain either. Now onto Dehaan. Out of the supporting actors he comes out with the best performance. Despite the material he was given, Dane fully commits to his part and really gives a great performance. There wasn’t anything embarrassingly bad about Harry/Goblin, but Dehaan was not given the best writing/material to work with. Harry’s friendship with Peter was fine but wasn’t very strong, not enough time is given to developing that relationship (probably because of all the other plotlines in the movie), so that aspect was just passable at best. As previously mentioned, one plotline focussed on Harry Osborn is that he learns that his father (Norman Osborn) is suffering from a form of Goblin’s disease, and that it’s genetic, so Harry has that disease too. While this plotline does have its strong points and has a lot of potential, it is handled poorly. For example, even though Norman only began to feel the effects of the disease later in his life, Harry is already experiencing it when he’s in his 20s, which is just straight up lazy writing. So how is he as the Green Goblin? In the last act he really only poses as a direct villain to Spider-Man for less than 5 minutes, even Electro got more time. A few minutes isn’t enough time for him to be a villain. Still, a lot of things do really work about him, I actually really liked Dehaan’s version of Green Goblin, but again, he needed a lot more screentime.

Despite the issues that the above supporting actors had, there are other supporting actors who had even worse treatment. Some of them were meant to star in future movies but as Sony cancelled the future movies, they now just seem out of place. Felicity Jones plays Felicia Hardy, who was meant to become Black Cat in the sequel. Jones is a great actress, and she is fine in the movie but she’s like in 2 scenes and doesn’t get to do anything. Whereas Jones is fine but forgettable, Paul Giamatti is memorable but cringeworthy and incredibly over the top. He plays the Rhino, and he was put in this movie to set him up for future movies. He’s a very minor villain (only posing a minor threat at the beginning and end of the movie) but somehow ends up being one of the most embarrassing villains I’ve seen in a blockbuster. Despite them feeling out of place, at least they were meant to return for future movies, Chris Cooper wasn’t so lucky. Cooper plays Norman Osborn and before you get excited, don’t. He’s in one scene and doesn’t return to the movie after that. Such a complete wasted opportunity, Cooper was honestly perfect for the role. I guess the only supporting character who served her purpose without being wasted was Sally Fields as Aunt May.

I love the look of The Amazing Spider-Man 2. This movie is visually stunning, especially with the colours, Electro’s blue lightning, Spider-Man’s red suit, Green Goblin’s green glowing glider, its just stunning to watch. A lot of the scenes are filmed greatly, like an aforementioned transformation scene. This movie doesn’t have a lot of action but it is really good when it actually happens. The action itself is fast-paced like the first movie. If there’s one problem with the action that I have, its that this movie can feel a little too CGI, like we are watching a video game cutscene as opposed to an action sequence from an actual movie. Spider-Man’s suit design has changed from the first movie, now it’s closer to a comic book Spider-Man costume. It works but it’s not my favourite look. Maybe because he looks a lot more CGI and its kind of distracting. I know people really didn’t like the designs of the villains but I liked most of them. Electro’s design in the comics looks honestly silly and wouldn’t adapt well into live-action. So his design with the blue look was great, no problems there. I also liked the look of Green Goblin, it made sense given his origin, and he looked creepy and scary, no issues with his look either. As for the Rhino… yeah, I don’t really liked what they did with the character and the same goes with the costume. I know some people have criticised the soundtrack but I liked it, the Electro and Goblin themes are my favourites. Though the use of modern pop songs did really annoy me sometimes. I will say something about this movie, a lot of people had said that the Amazing Spider-Man movies were more Sony’s films than Marc Webb’s. While I’ll disagree about the first film, the second film I completely agree. There’s a constant feeling that there’s something off, it feels like a studio created the scenes, it lacks a consistent directional style. Then again, that might have something to do with the editing.

The Amazing Spider-Man 2 is by far the worst Spider-Man movie yet. The film tries to have so many plotlines and set up so much but most of the time it failed to deliver. All the plotlines have their flaws and some of them feel out of place in the movie. It is really all over the place. With that said, I wouldn’t call it a bad movie, just a very disappointing one. It had a great cast and most of them get their moments, the action sequences are beautiful and entertaining but aren’t shown often enough. It had so much potential but even if some of it resulted in some great moments, most of the potential was wasted. I know a lot of people absolutely hate The Amazing Spider-Man 2 and despite everything that I’ve said, it’s not bad, I still partially like it. It’s okay overall, just very disappointing to watch.

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