By Varun Kumar
Marc Webb is back with the sequel to his disappointing super hero reboot.While Andrew Garfield delivered a more convincing Peter Parker, the first film was too familiar and relied on a lot of clichés to pass off as anything more than adequate.
However, the second film was definitely looking to be a more ambitious film than the first. Unfortunately, it falls short in a lot of aspects.
The Amazing Spider-Man 2 takes place after the events of the first film, in which Peter (Garfield) has comfortably adapted to the Spider-Man lifestyle. The relationship between him and Gwen Stacy (Emma Stone) has been rocky since Peter is still conflicted about the promise he made to her father after his passing and Gwen is conflicted about whether or not to go to university in Oxford. While all of this is happening, we are introduced to the characters of Max Dillon (Jamie Foxx), who ends up turning into Electro, and Harry Osborn (Dane DeHaan), Peter’s old friend. Peter is also trying to find out the reasons behind his parents’ departure.
The acting is easily the strongest element of the entire film. Garfield’s Spider-Man–funny, witty, charismatic, and serious whenever he wants to be—is the best portrayal of the superhero I’ve seen so far. I could easily feel for his character at any moment, no matter how terrible or well done the scene was. Emma Stone is also a much better romantic interest than Kirsten Dunst. Her chemistry with Garfield is electric and she really showcases her personality as Gwen Stacy. Jamie Foxx and DeHaan also give fine performances as the villains, especially DeHaan who is a clear improvement over James Franco as Harry Osborn/Green Goblin; DeHaan’s Green Goblin was actually psychotic as opposed to the cheesy version that Franco portrayed.
The biggest issue with this film is with its character development. Due to such a busy plot, there isn’t enough time given to the villains for the audience to become invested in them. While the set ups are executed adequately, they end up lacking for a big enough role through the film. Electro is basically an irrelevant character after the first scene, rendering everything about his character’s upsetting backstory useless from then on. The same goes for Harry Osborn. His transformation into a villain is contrived and a pointless build-up for a very short fight. What is even more laughable is the fact that a third villain, Rhino (played by Paul Giamatti), is teased in many of the trailers, but he is only in the film for a total of 2-3 minutes.
What also hurts this film is its inconsistency and pacing. Rather than feeling like a movie, it feels like a bunch of scenes. Some are great and some are poor – laughably so. While the relationship of Garfield and Stone is done incredibly well and the audience feels for them throughout, it ends up becoming rushed after a climactic scene. While the set-up of Max’s character is well done and his transformation justified, his later scenes just make him out to be a generic angry villain. These problems can mainly be attributed to the fact that this film tries to do too much for even a lengthy runtime to fix.
The Amazing Spider-Man 2 is well done in parts, but ultimately falls short in a lot of its goals. As a romantic comedy, it is a strong film with a rushed ending that hurts the lead characterization. As an action-adventure superhero film, it has some impressive fight sequences with villains that aren’t used enough or given much characterization. And as a mystery film, it is a film with an interesting back up and an ultimately disappointing resolution as to what Peter’s parents were doing that made them abandon him as a child. Despite all of these problems, the film does end up being entertaining enough to warrant a good time at the theaters. It is funny, sad, and intense in its best moments. Just don’t go in expecting anything more than time-passing entertainment, and the amazement might just live up to the marketing pitch.
Photo Courtesy of Columbia Pictures.