Let me preface this review of THE AMAZING SPIDER-MAN 2
by saying that I am a fan of Spider-Man. Yes, even though I grew up a “DC Kid” – with Batman by far being my favorite character – I was also quite fond of Peter Parker – probably due to the animated Spider-Man TV series of the 60s (“Spider-Man, Spider-Man, does whatever a spider can!”
). I’ve got a TON of old Spider-Man old comic books that I bought back in the 60s, 70s and 90s (I didn’t buy many comics in the 1980s because that’s when I was “too cool” for superheros!). Heck, I’ve loved all the live-action Spider-Man films to date – well, except for SPIDER-MAN 3
(though I don't hate it like many others do), and I have been REALLY looking forward to the sequel to the 2012 reboot, THE AMAZING SPIDER-MAN
What a bummer.
TAS-M2 never figures out what it wants to be. Is it a superhero action film; a mystery movie involving family secrets; or, is it the comic book flick equivalent of TWILIGHT?
During its 142 minute runtime, our friendly neighborhood Spider-Man has to deal with girlfriend issues; console an old childhood friend with a terminal disease; figure out what really happened to his parents, and take on not one, not two, but three – yes THREE – supervillains.
Comic Book Movie TWILIGHT? Peter Parker (Andrew Garfield) is constantly worrying that his escapades as Spider-Man is putting his main squeeze, Gwen Stacy (Emma Stone), in too many perilous situations. This makes him feel guilty, as he had promised her dying father that he’s leave her alone at the end of the previous film.
Family Secrets Mystery: Peter investigates his mother and father’s disappearance (and deaths) years ago when he was a child. If you remember from THE AMAZING SPIDER-MAN, his dad worked a scientist for OSCORP. Did the senior Parker discover something he shouldn’t have which caused him and the Mrs. to flee?
Superhero Action Film: Spider-Man vs. Electro/The Green Goblin/Rhino. Yes, Nolan made multiple villains work in the films of his “Dark Knight Trilogy.” On the other hand, Tim Burton and Joel Schumacher did not in BATMAN RETURNS and BATMAN AND ROBIN respectively. Director Mark Webb’s (What a great surname for a dude directing a Spider-Man movie!) attempt to juggle numerous baddies has more in common with the latter as opposed to the former in this case. In fact, one can wonder if the folks behind the Spider-Man film franchise learned anything from Sam Raimi’s SPIDER-MAN 3. And I’ve got to say, the origin of Electro (Jamie Fox) is eye roll-inducing silly. I won’t give it away here, but you’ll know exactly what I’m talking about when you see this film.
As far as the film’s other two bad guys – The Green Goblin (Dane DeHaan) and Rhino (Paul Giamatti) – don’t have as much screen time as Fox’s Electro, and are essentially extended cameos – especially the former. Though the filmmaker’s made Rhino “realistic,” the character could’ve been eliminated and the film’s narrative wouldn’t have suffered a bit. DeHaan did a nice job as the smarmy Osborn, but I had a hard time believing that he and Peter suddenly were best friends again after not seeing each other for years.
So, is there anything good in this film? Yes, absolutely. Andrew Garfield is awesome as Peter Parker/Spider-Man – which shouldn’t be a surprise to anyone because he was awesome in the first one. He's the live-action Spider-Man to date - though Nicholas Hammond fans might disagree. Emma Stone, yet again, does a great job as the doomed, per comic book lore (Or is she?), Gwen Stacy. These two have wonderful onscreen chemistry – probably due to the fact that they are a real-life couple. Regardless, their scenes together are fun to watch – though they do get a bit too “shmoopy” at times for me (but not for teenage girls, I’m sure). Also, Spidey’s action sequences are exciting -- though there aren't as many as you would've thought from viewing the trailers and TV spots. Oh yeah, Spidey's new suit is cool -- though I did like the previous one a lot. Honestly, this one has more in common with the one Tobey Maguire sported in his three Spider-films than Garfield's from TAS-M1.
All in all, THE AMAZING SPIDER-MAN 2 is OK. It's certainly worth seeing and by no means is it an embarrassment to the genre. However, the story threads and characters mentioned above mix and mingle and overlap each other without any apprarent rhyme or reason. Thus, the film comes off helter-skelter; a convoluted mish-mash that never really finds a consistent tone. Here’s hoping that the franchise gets back on track in the next installment of the film series - Bill "Jett" Ramey