Amazing Spider-Man 2 Review

Amazing Spider-Man 2 Review

As the sequel to one of the biggest comic book movie franchises is now right round the corner for US release, expectations are high. Did they meet mine? Click to find out!


While the wall-crawler’s films have never been on the grand scale as his other Marvel or DC counterparts, Spider-Man has always pleased the majority of movie-goers. The Amazing Spider-Man 2 however is a bit more of a mixed bag it seems. I’ve heard critics and friends say it’s the best spidey flick, I’ve heard others say it’s the worst.  Therefore, here’s my two cents on one of the big comic book blockbuster’s this year, and if it’ll hold its own against its Fox/Marvel counterparts.

The biggest tangled mess in the film is the story itself. Promising its audience to revelations about Oscorp, Peter’s parents, The Man in the Shadows, and Uncle Ben’s killer from the last film, the story and script deliver an underwhelming result. The entire trilogy has been described by its producers and Webb as a saga on Peter’s origins and the dark truths on Oscorp, yet they aren’t anything dynamic or intriguing. The entire subplot regarding Richard Parker to me seems filler for an already cramped movie, and the many points of the film seem distracting to the heart of the film regarding Spider-Man, Gwen and Harry.  It’s a shame as a whole, for there are some real genuine gems in this movie – really great little scenes or character moments that reside throughout (one major example being those last 10 minutes of the film). This goes the same for comedy and script too. Yet at the same time you get some really weak moments that are littered throughout among the gems, such as a blatant plot-hole, or shots of weird facial expressions. I can best describe it as uneven, and that’s a term for many aspects of the film: tone, humour, character, pace, plot development. Compared to some other comic book movies out there, its story isn’t anything truly rage-worthy, just disappointing and stupid at times.

What the story lacks in these areas, it definitely makes up for in the romance section. Maybe it’s the organic chemistry between the oh-so likable Emma Stone and Andrew Garfield, or the direction from Webb (who made the great romantic-comedy 500 Days of Summer), but whatever the reason, the film excels in defining a real emotional investment between Spider-Man and Gwen Stacey. I am more than confidant to say that it is one of the best romances in a comic book movie. Romances in general have been a kryptonite to this genre, even for the likes of The Dark Knight and Thor, yet this film succeeds in this context. The charming portrayals between Garfield and Stone are just as good, if not better, than Maguire and Dunst’s Spider-Man and MJ in the first two Raimi films.

The villains are a different matter. Firstly there’s Jamie Foxx’s Electro who is all style and no substance. Sure, the make-up and powers are a step up from a certain reptilian disappointment in 2012, but the villain himself is not all that great in performance or page. Jamie Foxx ‘s unconvincing nerdiness is unnatural on screen, and while he seems more comfortable as Eectro, the transition between his geek and supervillain just seems totally unbelievable alongside the murky motivations. Does he hate Spider-Man for forgetting his name? Does he want people to pay attention to him? Is he angry that his work was stolen? Does he want people to suffer? For the main villain Electro proves himself to be a comic book cutout rather than a genuine threat.

Dane Dehaan fares better for the most part as Harry Osborn/ Green Goblin, especially in the earlier scenes. His take on the rich best friend of Peter Parker’s is a fresh departure from James Franco’s version, and his reunion with Garfield is actually a great character moment as old friends share experiences and talk of what’s to come. Unfortunately, while Franco has a trilogy of a character arc to become the Green Goblin, Dehaan has less than half an hour. Harry is mostly fine, but the Goblin origin/character is rushed to absurd lengths just for the finale – a great shame for the build-up beforehand.

There are a lot of characters filling up screen time, for better or for worse. Marton Czokas’ Dr Kafka was certainly an odd slice of hamminess and Giamatti puts on the corniest Russian accent to chew up his scenes. Other characters do have their moments such as maternal Aunt May (Sally Field) and a creepy, bitter Norman Osborn (Chris Cooper) that bring out memorable scenes from the film.

The visuals are definitely a selling point here. Personally, the webswinging is gorgeous to watch, one of my favourite elements of the film. Webb and his team really communicate an excellent depiction for Spider-Man’s movements; he’s a lot more nimble and acrobatic in how he moves and fights now (notably the truck chase at the beginning and the grand fight scene at the end). I should also comment on how the film’s take on the ‘spider-sense’ (and the unexpected ‘electro-vision’) were both creative and served a unique function to the fight scenes. Speaking of which, the battles were fun but nothing mindblowing. Seeing Spider-Man dodge Electro’s attacks was exciting enough, but it seemed to miss a slight spark of sheer wonder you got when compared it to other comic book battles. People have said Electro looks like Dr. Manhattan or a video game boss, which while you can sometimes acknowledge, is not a frequent problem with the effects. I would comment on the fights involving Rhino and Goblin but they seem too short to really comment on; plus you’ve seen practically all of it already!

The soundtrack is not all that great in terms of superheroics but does succeed on the more emotional moments. You get some distracting music often when electro is around – from comical bumbling tunes to a bizarre electro-rock song with lyrics about hate and vindication that just deter the audience’s attention. Also, while I don’t wish to turn this into a comparison to the Raimi film’s, Hans Zimmer’s main theme for the webslinger doesn’t hold up well against that downright iconic score Elfman made. 

The Amazing Spider-Man 2 is not at all a game changer in the comic book genre, and for the most part is an average superhero film. Yet despite all the askew elements, Webb does pull off one of the more convincing romances found among superheroes, while boasting some great moments in action, character-work and design. The overcrowded script and wavering plot bring it down some severe notches, but it still holds up as a decent blockbuster. Overall, The Amazing Spiderman gets a 3/5 (average)

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