2012’s reboot of the Spider-Man movie franchise had a lot going against it, especially the ire of fans who felt like it was a desperate attempt for Sony to hold on the webslinger’s movie rights for the foreseeable future. Despite all that, I enjoyed it and deemed it serviceable at best.
So here we are, with the second film in Spider-Man’s rebooted film continuity. Between now and then, we’ve had announcements regarding Sony’s plans to pull off something akin to the Marvel Cinematic Universe, and yes, Amazing Spider-Man 2 highlights it like it’s going out of fashion.
It seems like the writing team of Jeff Pinkner, Roberto Orci, and Alex Kurtzman were too preoccupied with screaming “Hey! We’re building our own universe, too!” instead of focusing on something truly cohesive. You’ve got so many plot threads going on at the same time, you’ll start to wonder what movie was all about to begin with.
On top of that, Amazing Spider-Man 2 has some muddy character arcs with some rather tacked-on resolutions, including Peter Parker’s. The movie’s big emotional moment, which in itself was lifted directly from one of Spidey’s most pivotal moments in the comics feels like it was put there for the sake of being there. Granted, it still comes as a shock and I thought it was shot beautifully, I just think it would’ve been a lot heavier if we had a more effective lead-up to it.
The film isn’t without its strengths, fortunately. It looks like between now and the previous film, Marc Webb got a tighter grasp of how to depict Spidey’s abilities on screen and a better eye for action. As video game-y the CG-heavy scenes can become, the fights and action sequences are a thrill to watch. Visually, the film as a whole looks better than its predecessor, thanks mostly to the improved action and Spidey’s new threads, which by far are the most comic-accurate we’ve seen on the big screen so far.
Now, on to the performances. The lead pair of Andrew Garfield and Emma Stone will go a long way in convincing you to bring a date with you. Not quite sure if it’s because they’re a real-life couple, but it definitely helps sell the pairing. Garfield (debatably) still looks like he’s having fun as Spidey, effectively delivering the signature wisecracks he’s known for. Emma Stone is still charming as Gwen Stacy, too. Her interactions with Peter Parker were some of the better parts of this film that didn’t involve web-slinging, punching, or property damage.
Jamie Foxx’s Max Dillon/Electro feels sorely underused, despite being the highlight of most of the marketing material over the past couple of months. He does however, do a convincing turn as a fanatical, borderline crazy admirer of Spider-Man before his transformation into Electro.
The one to truly watch for, however is Dane Dehaan’s Harry Osborne. While his work here feels a bit like an extension of his character from Chronicle (you should definitely check that out, by the way). He plays Harry as someone who is always on the brink of snapping, and it fits within the context of Harry Osborne and the contemporary vibe Webb and Co. were going for.
As for everyone else, they deliver with just enough for you to care, like Sally Field’s Aunt May. The real sore thumb here, however is Marton Csokas and his painfully cartoonish German accent as Dr. Kafka of the Ravencroft Institute.
Look Sony, I know you’ve got big plans for the Spider-Man property. However, if you’re going to focus too much on the “nudge, nudge, wink, wink” approach of building your planned universe, without actually telling a well-constructed story to back it all up, I’m not sure I’d want to see those plans to come to fruition.
Fans of the first Amazing Spider-Man will undoubtedly find this as a step up. For those who disliked the reboot out of the gate and still do to this day, you might find a couple of improvements to win you over. Still, a lot of work needs to be done before this new bunch of Spider-Man films can be considered truly amazing.
Review by Billy Añonuevo