The Amazing Spider-Man 2 Review

the-amazing-spider-man-2-spidey-posterReview by Alec R. Lee

My spider-sense is rather dull at this point, you’re going to have to give it a little more effort…

Considering all the buzz until the actual release date, The Amazing Spider-Man 2 looked like it was going to be one of the best comic-book movies of the summer.  Opening day in the U.S. and it now sits at pretty much the same critical reception that greeted Man of Steel when it first came out.  That’s not a good sign.  I mean, it’s only a Spider-Man movie and it doesn’t have the camp factor as the Raimi trilogy did, so what exactly was going on at Sony?  Was it the fact that they had four screenwriters working on this damn thing?  Was it studio interference?  Was it the fact that the movie had so much footage shot that they had to throw away a lot of promising content so that it could be slimmed down?  (And by slimmed down I mean to only two hours and twenty minutes).

With director Marc Webb returning, the same visual style and direction helps this entry seem very cohesive compared with its predecessor.  The only problem is the script, it’s a mess.  Hell, the first movie, even though it wasn’t particularly loved, did a fine job focusing on the origin of Spider-Man first and foremost.  The villain may have been a little lackluster but it didn’t matter much.  This one…I’m not exactly sure what I should be feeling.  There are parts that I really enjoyed…and parts that really bored me to death.

First, the story.  The movie picks up a little bit after the first movie had left off.  Peter Parker (Spider-Man) has graduated from high school and is in the middle of dating Gwen Stacy.  Peter is now going to college (which we never see) and has a job submitting photos to the Daily Bugle of his alter ego (again, a plot point which we do not see…J.K. Simmons would be furious).  Peter is busy protecting the city as Spider-Man in which we see him knocking out bad guys, saving babies, and pretty much running his mouth all along the way.  That’s one thing that the movie got right, Spider-Man’s personality is awesome as he lets loose wisecrack after wisecrack.  It’s hilarious and really fits with the character.

So one day at the evil corporation Oscorp, electrician Max Dillon (who’s portrayed to be something of a loser) falls into a tank of electric eels and inexplicably gains the ability to project electricity.  Aaaaand in ten seconds flat, suddenly he’s evil.  No real build-up to that point, he just overcomes his awkward nature and starts blasting everyone with lightning.  After a cool fight scene, Max, now named Electro…just disappears for about half the frigging movie.  That might be a slight exaggeration but it sure as hell feels that way.

Also introduced in this movie is Harry Osborn, portrayed by Dane DeHaan.  I will make a brief aside about the cast, everyone in this movie is…serviceable.  Just that.  Serviceable.  There is no one in this cast that really stood out to me…except Dane DeHaan.  This guy nailed the brooding teenager to the nth degree.  He manages to pull off the charming and creepy look at the same time, plus he’s one damn fine actor.  DeHaan literally was saving this movie for me so I have to give it a point there.  Now back to the story, so Harry has some bullcrap disease that’s killing him and he is looking for a cure…yadda yadda yadda…needs Spider-Man’s blood…yadda yadda yadda…I blanked out there.  It wasn’t that important as there were just too many plot points going on for me to process.

Expanding on a minor subplot from the first film, Peter’s parents make more of an appearance as the film tries to detail why they left Peter with his aunt and uncle.  Unfortunately, the reveal is very disappointing as it brings absolutely nothing to the table.  When I saw the scene I was shrugging, “Okay….I already knew that part.  THAT’s it?”  It was more of a…”WTF?”

To further exacerbate the problem, there were too many scenes detailing Peter and Gwen’s tumultuous relationship.  Dammit Webb, I know you have experience in rom-coms, but this is a Spider-Man movie!  You have your characters flip-flopping their relationship status quicker than Mitt Romney on speed!  I mean, first they’re together, then they break up, then they’re together again.  And in between those scenes, they’re actively discussing the status of their relationship and what should any future plans be.  You could have cut half an hour from this exchange of dialogue and it wouldn’t have made any difference whatsoever.  To me, this was the main problem this movie had, too much emphasis on the relationship when there should have been more ass-kicking.

Speaking of which, because the romance takes up the majority of the screen time of this film, the roster of villains doesn’t really clutter up this film much.  Don’t look so happy because all of their screen time was shown in the trailers because this movie brought nothing new to the table.  The villain Rhino is on screen in the beginning, setting up Spider-Man’s abilities for the audience so that was fine.  Electro, as I mentioned before, had a decent arc until he dropped off the map until the final battle (like literally until the final battle).  And you have Harry Osborn as the Green Goblin (not a spoiler, btw) who had all of two minutes of screen time.  I was astounded that they introduce a very important villain transformation…only to have him run amok for literally all of thirty seconds and have the fight be over just like that.  It was more of a…”WTF?”

But the action scenes in The Amazing Spider-Man 2 really sizzle.  The camera work does a bang-up job at trying to simulate the feel of web-slinging.  The action was polished, the choreography was awesome, I wanted more of those scenes!  I don’t care if Peter and Gwen get back together, give me more Spider-Man!

Although, if you are familiar with the comics, you will see a certain scene coming near the end, and I must say it was done well.  Very tense and dramatic (you’ll know when you see it if you have no idea what I’m talking about…even though it was completely obvious from the first movie).  Bottom line, dark turn for the movie worked well and gave it some hope in my eyes.

The film’s score was composed by Hans Zimmer, who can now add this to his resume alongside the Dark Knight trilogy and Man of Steel (Is he trying to monopolize the superhero scores?) and thankfully, he doesn’t approach the film by way of sound design.  Nope, no ambient droning that completely ruins the scenes (looking at you, MoS) but a rather playful score, with a soaring trumpet (a first for Hans) and woodwinds…actual mother****ing woodwinds!  Like oboes and bassoons, I’ve never heard Hans Zimmer use those before!  It seemed that this time he was making a genuine effort to distance himself from his previous scores and for this outing, he recruited some outside help plus a few ghostwriters (goddamn it) to create a band he dubbed “The Magnificent Six.”  Artists like Johnny Marr and Pharrell Williams collaborated on songs and most notably, Electro’s theme, which had a bizarre chant trying to detail the character’s fractured personality (a concept that would have worked better if the film had actually decided to focus on Electro!)  Zimmer’s score, unfortunately, is marred by the fact that it is inferior in every single way to James Horner’s score from the previous installment.  Why the hell they didn’t hire Horner back, I have no idea but that man had one of the best superhero scores in recent memory with the first movie.

I really wanted to love this movie, I really did.  If you’re a Spider-Man fan, you will like this movie.  The action scenes are incredible, Spider-Man is funny, the visuals are a treat…but most of the characters are boring, there are too many subplots, and the pacing of this film would be like if the editor had taken a combination of heroin and piracetam and decided to choke it all down with an espresso from the local Starbucks.  And it became apparent at the end that this whole film was just a set up for the next installment which will presumably feature the villain team of the Sinister Six.  Sony is taking this franchise way too fast in an attempt to create their own Marvel Cinematic Universe and it seems the only studio that’s capable of pulling that off at the moment, is Marvel (and Disney).  You know why they succeeded?  Because they took their freaking time!  They spent entire movies on each one of their characters (for the most part) and used that to introduce the audience to a shared movie world.  You can’t just cram it all in one film and hope that it will take off.  You can’t do that!

Don’t bother staying for the mid-credits scene as it adds nothing new, is completely nonsensical, and just makes you shake your head at the blatant advertising the movie has just chucked at your head.  Overall, fifteen minutes of action may warrant a view from this film but be prepared to slouch through two hours of screaming at the screen, “Just kiss for f**k’s sake!”  Sorry folks, this movie is not amazing, but more of a…”WTF!”

Overall score: 60/100

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