The Amazing Spider-Man 2: REVIEW

A bloated spectacle that works because, and only when, it wears its heart on its sleeve. 

Setting Up As Many Spin-Offs as Possible may have been a more appropriate title for this film than The Amazing Spider-Man 2. Nevertheless, Andrew Garfield returns as everyone’s favorite web-slinger in a brand new adventure that excites and entertains while the eponymous hero fights an ever-increasing amount of villains.

The film looks exactly like you’d want a Spider-Man movie to look, with big, grand fight sequences and breath-taking rides with the hero through the air. And Director Marc Webb (500 Days of Summer) works his magic again to make the film feel fresh and different than most typical superhero fare.

Just like the first one, the heart of the film is in the relationship between Peter Parker (Andrew Garfield) and Gwen Stacy (Emma Stone).  Emma Stone’s Gwen has become one of the best female love interests in any superhero film to date — she’s not simply relegated to a sidekick position where she can look pretty and provide motivation for the hero. No, she dictates almost as much of the story as Peter does.

The reason The Amazing Spider-Man worked so well when it came out in 2012 was almost entirely because of the incredibly fun chemistry between these two. Give me more fresh and fun romantic moments between these two characters — I’d pay to see that movie any day.

But the high notes of the film, then, really have nothing to do with Peter as Spider-Man… That’s a problem.

The Amazing Spider-Man 2 is an inflated parade, full of too many villains, and too many weak plot lines. Confusing parts of the story are quickly glossed over, and villains keep getting thrown into the story at the most unlikely of times.
Much about how the main villain, Electro, even functions is given almost no explanation, and makes little to no sense. He was attacked by some weird electrical fish and now he can harness electricity and materialize out of thin air by touching outlets and power cables? Okay…

The reason why Electro’s even got it in for Spider-Man in the first place isn’t very convincing.  Villains in a universe like this deserve to be done right, and to each be given their own films to fully evolve and grow as characters who we can truly hate. Not merely shrug when they’re finally defeated.

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And again, can we just bring up the fact that Sony rebooted this franchise while it was still less than five years old? Sorry. I’m still not over it. For many of us, Spider-Man was one of the movies that defined our adolescence, and caused us to love superheroes in the first place. Tobey Maguire was Spider-Man…  Many weren’t fans of Maguire, and that’s okaybut at least he played a convincing Peter Parker. He was believable as the dorky nerd who got picked on at school and never felt comfortable enough to act on his romantic whims.
Andrew Garfield, though? His Peter Parker is confident, comfortable with women, funny and sarcastic, and never quite feels like the underdog that Peter Parker was supposed to be.

There’s a lot to be entertained by in The Amazing Spider-Man 2, but not much to care about. This recent trend of blockbusters focusing more on world-building and sequel-setting-up than actually telling their own complete story makes me sad and wary for the future of cinema, even if the movies can still be entertaining at times. The Amazing Spider-Man 2 is fun, yes. Maybe even a lot of fun.
But it stops short of anything magical, memorable, or special.

REVIEW1
+ Still feels fresher and more quirky than most superhero films
+ The film survives on the chemistry between Peter and Gwen Stacy
+ A unique, pulsing soundtrack
+
A top notch ensemble of actors

REVIEW2
– Lazy plotlines that feel forced
Too many villains
The best parts of the movie aren’t really about Spider-Man
Electro’s motivation feels unrealistic
The film is so suffocated that you can barely register what is happening towards the end
Emo Harry
 A huge moment towards the end that totally changes the direction of the franchise was a misfire, by my count. It was too early to pull that kind of move in this Spider-Man series. It makes me lose much interest in seeing any of the sequels.

REVIEW3

The Amazing Spider-Man 2 is a bloated spectacle with some good thrills but little magic. The film survives again on the incredible chemistry between Andrew Garfield’s Peter and Emma Stone’s Gwen, and some great visuals truly draw us into Spider-Man’s world as he flies above the New York skyline. It has some goofy plotlines and plenty of forced moments, but – thankfully – it still feels more authentic and heartfelt than anything that’s come out of Disney’s “Marvel Cinematic Universe.” That might just have to be enough.

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REVIEW7
The Amazing Spider-Man 2 is rated PG-13 for “sequences of sci-fi action and violence.”  Aside from the scenes of heroes fighting bad guys and villains shooting guns, there’s little to worry about here. Though one tough scene towards the end may be difficult for parents to explain to their children.

© Matt Tory, 2014. 

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