The Amazing Spider-Man 2

The Amazing Spider-Man 2 (2014) photo starrating-1andahalfstars.jpgI’m exercising restraint when I say that The Amazing Spider Man 2 (TASM2) is a staggeringly disorganized, senseless drudgery of a picture. The production is expensively produced, techno-spastic, headache inducing mess. It’s populated by undeveloped roles that merely exist as a prelude to future chapters. TASM2 is not concerned with telling a coherent tale. The narrative is more focused on cramming multiple threads of various origin stories in preparation of the main event later. Apparently these fragments will have meaning not just in The Amazing Spider-Man 3 (2016) but also in spin-offs Venom (in development) and The Sinister Six. This recipe for disaster is comprised of 3 parts: A) cluttered action B) multiple narratives left unresolved for later sequels and C) too many antagonists.

When you get right down to it, The Amazing Spider-Man 2 isn’t really about Spider-Man at all. It’s about the villains, 3 main ones in my estimation. We’ve got Aleksei Sytsevich (Paul Giamatti) who becomes the Rhino, Harry Osborn (Dane DeHaan) who becomes the Green Goblin, and nerdy Max Dillon (a criminally miscast Jamie Foxx) who becomes Electro.  They’ll (presumably) comprise three of the members in the all-villain superteam known as The Sinister Six. Sony is clearly trying to beef up their stake in their Marvel property in a nod that seeks to compete with Disney and their Marvel universe centered around The Avengers. There are numerous other characters too. I have neither the strength nor desire to list them all here but surprisingly few exhibit any originality or nuance. Case in point, actor Marton Csokas weirdly channels Dr. Strangelove to play Dr. Ashley Kafka, the founder of the Ravencroft Institute. A notable exception is Sally Field as Aunt May who is a refreshing ocean of calm in a sea of madness.

Spider-Man is on somewhat more solid ground when he is allowed to be Peter Parker and not some CGI blur zipping across the screen. A technological exhibition doesn‘t engage the emotions like a personality. Scenes invoking humanity are preferable, although it’s really stretching credibility to have a man in his 30s pretending to graduate high school.  Garfield portrays Peter Parker as a smug hipster. He even self-knowingly whistles the Spider-Man TV theme. Unfortunately his supposedly spontaneous witticisms come off as shtick and not as the lighthearted banter I believe was written to endear us to the superhero. His interactions with girlfriend Gwen Stacy feel like manufactured affectations that cause the couple to conventionally fall in love, break up, get back together at various intervals for the sole purpose of romantic conflict. Their ersatz charm is sheer torture to anyone who values sincerity. A heinous screenplay derails even quiet moments that should be making us give a care in between explosions.

The whole production is a labor intensive chore to watch. We are presented with a visual and aural assault on the senses. The over-abundance of special effects are so chaotic at times that the brain cannot even reconcile what is happening. The battles are computer generated imagery where people are irrelevant. Take the fight sequences between combatants. Spider-Man is wearing a mask. Electro is a glowing blue humanoid. They’re thrust into a cacophonous light display of sound and fury that is an animated nightmare. A significant portion of the movie holds literally nothing organic on screen. There are bolts of lightning, crashes and pyrotechnics. The destruction of Times Square should be an awe inspiring experience but the event barely incites any concern from the audience. It gets lost in the annihilation of all the public property – the financial repercussions of which are never addressed. Of course you’re not meant to think about such things. This is just a bunch of random stuff that happens, a holding pattern if you will, that connects parts 1 and 3. The film is a glorified advertisement for upcoming installments. TASM2 is not a movie, it’s a 142 minute trailer, and very unsatisfying one at that.

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54 Responses to “The Amazing Spider-Man 2”

  1. I think your review applies to The Spiderman 3 (directed by Sam Raimi) as well. It seems they never learned from that. Also I dont know why did they reboot the franchise when it was so well done by Sam in his trilogy…they should have just carried on where he left off and maybe even re sign Toby who was perfect.

    • Sam Raimi’s series is better. Spider-Man 3 wasn’t great but it was better than this.

      If the Marc Webb series had suprassed Raimi’s vision, I would’ve been fine with restarting the franchise. Since it’s awful, I’m with you. The reboot is unnecessary.

  2. garylee828 Says:

    So, did you like it? lol.

  3. We’re pretty much on the same page with this one. Too many stories and too many villains means none of them get the attention they deserve. A shame as the performances are really quite good.

  4. Nice review Mark. I thought it was alright but it does have far too much going on, it’s too scattered and unfocused. It had its fun moments though.

  5. Parker whistling the Spider-Man theme tune annoyed me too! Overall, I did enjoy it more than you but there are far too many villains and this certainly feels like a buffer between two films rather than a spectacle on its own. Great review mate!

    Adam.

  6. For some reason, I liked this one a lot more than the first, and hell, a lot more than I expected to. Wasn’t perfect, but given that it’s a summer blockbuster, I had fun. Good review Mark.

    • I was aware of the critical lambasting this was getting, so I had VERY low expectations. I actually think the reviews have been too kind. Glad you enjoyed it though.

  7. Yeah when I saw your tweet saying this was the Man of Steel of Marvel movies, I knew I was in for a good read. 😉 Great review here Mark. From all I’ve heard about this, I’m kind of surprised the Rotten Tomatoes score is over 40%, never mind 50%. I’ll probably see it next week though just to get my take on it. Feels like I haven’t been to the movies in forever (even though I went for Divergent a solid two weeks ago).

    Sent from my iPhone

    >

    • Every time I look at RT, the score is a bit lower, but consensus hasn’t dipped below 50%. So yeah, that is surprisingly high given what I saw.

  8. While I had fun and I genuinely enjoy the Andrew-Emma moments, I agree that it’s overstuffed, underdeveloped and that the screenplay is heinous.

  9. You hit the nail on the head calling this an ‘unsatisfying 142 minute trailer’. Though I did not dislike it quite as much as yourself, I did find it a complete mess with under whelming set pieces thrown in for the sake of it and way too much attention given to setting up sequels.

    I felt there was potential here with the characters, but everyone seemed in too much of a hurry to get this over with and write the sinister six movie to make this an overlong mess of a film. I felt the excellent Garfield often elevated the poor material he was given.

    • The editing was an ADHD headache. I would’ve completely eliminated everything having to do with Jaime Foxx and Paul Giamatti and just focused on Dane DeHaan as the main villain. That’s where the story had the most impact.

      • MoodyB Says:

        Agreed, they could have done so much with his character. Though it does not forgive what happened here in part 2, hopefully his character will get the arc it deserves in part 3.

  10. martin250 Says:

    “The over-abundance of special effects are so chaotic at times that the brain cannot even reconcile what is happening. ” .. This is enough stay away from the movie.
    comic book movies should use Spiderman 2 as an example for good CGI action scenes with clarity. another great review Mark.

  11. Actually, I really really liked this movie 😀 Matter of taste, I guess. Great review though. Good points.

  12. Oh dear, looks like not a thing worked for you in this then. . .

    Of course, I’m coming off the back of a pretty big letdown myself. This was nowhere near as good as it should have been. A superhero movie is entitled to it’s fair share of cheese, schmaltz, cliche — whatever. That’s fine. I can deal with that.

    To be uninteresting and boring, though. That’s where I butt heads with the director. I don’t know what happened, either. I was among maybe a minority since I really liked TASM, but here this is just so insanely cluttered.

    Given that, though, there were still parts i liked. I’d have to disagree about Gwen and Peter’s charm being a little artificial. I thought it was genuinely believable and these moments kept me hanging in there. Still, not much else did it for me.

    • You must’ve missed my praise for Sally Field’s performance: “….a refreshing ocean of calm in a sea of madness.”

      Can’t say my reaction differs from the majority though. It has underperformed both critically and commercially. I fear history will not be kind to this chapter in the Spider-Man saga.

      Glad you enjoyed the performances. 🙂

  13. I haven’t been around much lately, Mark, because I haven’t been seeing many movies. When I catch more, I’ll stop by to read the rest of these reviews.

    For now, I’ll say this flick sounds wretched. As I expected it would from the trailers.

    • I know you were covering the Minnesota Film Festival recently and I was enjoying your reviews. You’re one of my most active readers so it’s always good to hear from you!

  14. Nice review. I don’t really enjoy comic book movies since I find that most of them are really just the same, but I did like Raimi’s original trilogy (with the exception of the third). The remake lacked inspiration and really had no purpose to exist other than to make a lot of money. I don’t have any interest in seeing this.

  15. Nice review here. The Amazing Spider-Man 2 was truly anything but amazing.

  16. I loved the plain while it crashes in the beginning of this film in 4DX

  17. Pretty much captured all my feelings about the movie!

  18. Snore. I am one who did not like the love story, at all. I got so bored every time Spidey and Gwen hit the screen together. I went to see a superhero movie, so my senses expected just that. Not a drawn out, break up, get together, break up, get together mess. It just didn’t do it for me, sorry. I still give it 2 1/2 stars for some of the effects.

  19. garylee828 Says:

    Dude, I went to see this today with the string of others, and figured I would leave halfway into it, but I actually liked it. It wasn’t anything spectacular, but it held my interest. I was engaged by Harry Osborne’s story and I thought Dane and Garfield both turned in strong performances. I thought the last scene with Garfield and Gwen was good; i don’t read comic books, so I actually didn’t know that was going to happen. I also thought Garfield’s performance in that scene was good. He’s one of my favorite actors, which is the only reason I even gave it a chance in spite of all the bad reviews. And I guess also b/c when I was a kid I always liked Spider Man a lot. I did have a couple Spider Man comics when I was a kid, but I don’t remember any of the stories. I think I was more drawn to the colorful illustrations. 🙂

    Spider Man is actually probably my favorite super-hero after Batman, but of the 5 recent Spider Man films all have been subpar or underwhelming. I didn’t like McGuire in the first trilogy and I like Garfield in the new series, but feel the scripts have been lacking. Maybe Christopher Nolan can reboot the series and show these cats who it’s done. 🙂

    • I thought Sam Raimi’s Spider-Man series was enjoyable enough. It’s interesting to note that Spider-Man 2 is often cited as one of the greatest superhero films of all time, particularly for Alfred Molina’s villain Doctor Octopus.

      • garylee828 Says:

        I actually did like Spider Man 2, but with it being sandwiched in between two other lackluster parts it diminished it a bit for me; and I just didn’t like Toby McGuire in that role. He’s just a very bland actor to me. I do remember a couple of fun action sequences in part 2, though.

        I think part 1 could have been so much better had they put Dafoe in prosthetics instead of a goofy mask; Dafoe’s facial features and his immense acting ability would make an immaculate Goblin and the producers let the opportunity for an all-time memorable villain slip away. What a waste.

      • Andrew Garfield is too much of a hipster to be Peter Parker. It’s more of a script issue since I think he’s being asked to act narcissistic but nevertheless it’s not an appealing personality for the character.

      • garylee828 Says:

        I don’t think of Garfield as a hipster. I see him as a method actor who takes his craft very seriously, which is why I like him. You HAVE to watch “Boy A”! 🙂 It’s really good and the film that made me a huge AG fan.

        AG does look young, but still a bit old to be graduating high school. lol. There probably is another actor who could play Parker well, but AG does a good job under the mask.

        I think Zac Efron also looks a little too old for the recent roles he’s played, particularly the one with Miles Teller. Teller looks fresh out of high-school, while Efron looks mid to late 20’s, but they’re both supposed to be the same age? lol.

        AG and Efron need to start taking age-appropriate roles; their fresh out of high-school days are behind them. lol. But that’s not a bad thing.

      • Peter Parker is most definitely a hipster in Andrew Garfield’s hands especially when compared to Tobey Maguire’s version. Everyone says this but this article explains it perfectly: http://www.boxoffice.com/articles/2012-07-rebel-with-a-web-why-is-this-cool-new-peter-parker-no-longer-a-nerd?q=Marc+Webb

      • garylee828 Says:

        Yeah, I can see Peter Parker being a hipster in the new Spider Man franchise, but I just figured that was the directing. Garfield definitely doesn’t come across like a hipster in all his roles. “Boy A”, “Never Let Me Go” (with Carey Mulligan & Keira Knightley) and “Dr. Parnassus” (Heath Ledger’s final film) he is nothing like that. I thought the new Peter Parker was due to the directing. There are a lot of different ways Peter Parker could be played and AG is capable of playing any version. You need to see “Boy A”. I think you’d like it a lot. It’s a british movie about a young man fresh out of jail for a crime he committed when he was a kid and learning to adapt in society. The writing, directing and acting are all top-notch.

      • I’m not talking about Andrew Garfield as a person. I’m talking about his version of Peter Parker.

      • garylee828 Says:

        Oh okay, I thought you were saying AG was a hipster and that’s why PP is a hipster in the new series. Yeah, I agree with that. I’m not sure why they have PP acting like such a hipster. I guess it’s Webb’s vision; probably wanted to stray away from the nerdy PP. If you wanted to alter him from being nerdy a bit I think is fine, but Webb takes it a bit too far b/c Spider Man is a huge smart-ass. I think an ideal PP/Spider Man would be one who is shy, introverted, and laser-focused. Honestly, this franchise needs another reboot. I did like Spider Man 2 okay (simply b/c it exceeded the low expectations all the bad reviews gave me) but the franchise just isn’t fresh or intriguing.

        I hope someone comes along and creates another superhero series like Nolan did Batman. “Batman Begins” was phenomenal and laid a path to one of the greatest films in Cinema with “Dark Knight”. I LOVED the closing scene of “Batman Begins” when Gordon hands Batman the “Joker” card and Batman says “I’ll look into it”. THAT is how you close a film and build anticipation for the next part!! 🙂

  20. I’ve heard nothing but awful things about this film, which is disappointing because I actually enjoyed the first Amazing Spiderman. Needless to say I haven’t exactly been in a rush to see Amazing Spiderman 2, especially not after reading your epic takedown of it.

  21. Yeah, I agree with numerous points that you made. Biggest one is how the fights were a major let-down. I would have had a better time watching fireworks in real life. However, due to Garfield and Stone being in an actual relationship, I feel that the chemistry element surpassed the weaker script components. They saved the film at times by being intriguing.

  22. Commenting a second time because I finally saw this. I don’t hate it as much as you do. But I don’t like it either. It is overstuffed, doubtlessly, and the characters, with one exception (Gwen) are weak. But I still thought there enough entertainment value to avoid making it a total loss.

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