The Amazing Spider-Man 2 (2014)

So I know I’m not yet reviewing the superhero genre, but Spider-Man is my favorite superhero and I wanted to respond to some of the early criticisms I laid upon this movie for its trailers, which can be found in the link below.


First off, I want to begin with an apology. The Amazing Spider-Man 2 suit is amazing. Better than the grittier one we saw in the prequel, better than any of the suits in the Sam Raimi trilogy. Whatever I said about the suit is absolutely wrong. The suit is not one of the film’s problems. In fact, it is one of the film’s strengths.


In general, the film looks great. It’s brighter and more colorful than its predecessor, and after just looking at The Amazing Spider-Man 2, I’m convinced Spider-Man is a superhero who should not be adapted in the Christopher Nolan sort of way like in The Dark Knight trilogy and Man of Steel. Spider-Man is a comic-book character, one whose red and blue spandex costume should not feel at odds with the picture, and in the Amazing Spider-Man 2, it never does.


Andrew Garfield, in his second film as Peter Parker/Spider-Man, plays a more wise-cracking, pompous Spider-Man, leaving the impression he has honed in on his skills from the last movie. But what I really love about this Spider-Man is that his agenda expands beyond matters of life and death. Spider-Man is willing to partake in matters of bullying, which was one of the main reasons why Peter Parker felt alienated in the first movie. This makes the Peter Parker character feel like he is actually behind the mask, something The Amazing Spider-Man tried to do by actually having the mask off.


Whereas in the last movie, Peter Parker seemed to find more of his identity with each successive Spider-Man wearing, the Peter Parker of The Amazing Spider-Man 2 seems to put on the suit for enjoyment. This Spider-Man loves to hold conversations with villains, save people from peril, and swing around New York City. We saw aspects of this Spider-Man in the first movie, but here, it’s in full bloom. Spider-Man loves to be Spider-Man, and without the angst of the origin story, it makes for a more fun Spider-Man experience.


While I still don’t think the action is particularly riveting, Spider-Man truly swings in this one. The perspective shots are better than the ones in The Amazing Spider-Man, and the camera seems to have a more difficult time keeping up with this agile web slinger. Spider-Man continues to fight like a spider, stringing together webbing that allows Spider-Man to swing circles around his opponents. However, the action is at times too frantic for the audience to comprehend what’s happening on the screen, leaving us feeling disconnected from what’s going on. There is a fairly reliant use of slow motion to try and slow the action down, but it’s as if a video gamer pushed the L trigger to initiate Spider-Man’s spider sense and slowed down time to an incredibly dull pace.


After an above-average outing from James Homer in the first The Amazing Spider-Man, Sony brings in Hans Zimmer to do the score. It’s a hate-it-or-love-it soundtrack, but personally, I really liked the theme song they gave to the villain. It reminds me of Bane’s from The Dark Knight Rises. Furthermore, I thought the dubstep was really fitting for the fight scenes involving the main villain, Electro. There is a song Peter Parker listens to with his iPod that might displease people, but the song that plays with the credits is the one truly out of place.

Wayyy cooler than Dr. Manhattan.
Wayyy cooler than Dr. Manhattan.

While Mark Webb’s team continues to do a near flawless job at casting actors and actresses, exemplified by Dane DeHaan as Parker’s childhood friend, Harry, all of the screenwriters should be fired for not learning from the mistakes made in Raimi’s Spider-Man 3. It’s not that there are too many villains (although people have legitimate reasons to be angered by the way Sony advertised three villains), it’s just that one of the villains is shoe-horned into the story as an obvious plot device. The other villain doesn’t deserve to be mentioned, and acts overly cartoon-y to be taken seriously, putting to question the other villains that are to be introduced into the Spider-Man universe and its future tone. This franchise seems to be losing its identity.


After seeing Raimi drop the ball on its three villains the same way Webb does here makes me believe Sony is the reason why we do not yet have a Christopher Nolan worthy superhero film in Spider-Man. The first Amazing Spider-Man is much better than its sequel largely because it only has one villain, therefore leaving the screenplay relatively clean and allowing the focus to be on the origin of Spider-Man and his love for Gwen Stacy. The Amazing Spider-Man 2, on the other hand, is jam-packed with subplots that resolve with little impact and cluttered by an excess of characters and character motivations that flimsily change as the plot requires them to. The Amazing Spider-Man 2 only survives due to the emotional core of the story which derives its strength from the real chemistry between Andrew Garfield and Emma Stone.

A real clip from the movie. Could you tell?
A real clip from the movie. Could you tell?

Still, The Amazing Spider-Man 2 is fun. It’s quite the departure from Webb’s previous outing, seemingly revealing Sony’s dissent, but what worked from the first movie still works here. The cast is phenomenal, the jokes are funny, and the relationship between its characters are done well. These are elements crucial to a good drama/romance, and it is clear Mark Webb is more suited to direct movies like 500 Days of Summer, making Spider-Man feel like he is participating in a movie where he doesn’t belong, much like Superman was stuck in an alien invasion movie in a Man of Steel. This doesn’t mean Mark Webb can’t direct a great Spider-Man movie, as seen in his first The Amazing Spider-Man. But perhaps that is the biggest disappointment of all–The Amazing Spider-Man 2 had potential.


Final Grade: C (74%)–it’s a beautiful clock tower, but you can hear all the gears and cogs churning the story.

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