Amazing Spider-Man 2: Review

Amazing Scenes, Flawed Story

The Amazing Spider-Man 2
Marc Webb | May 2, 2014

The second entry in the Amazing Spider-Man franchise delivers the best big-screen entry into the web-crawler’s library. Webb uses POV shots to frame Spidey’s webslinging and audiences feel that they are on a Universal Studios ride (if you are prone to motion sickness, please bring a small paper bag). Slow motion sequences depict the trademark spider-sense and are used sparingly enough to be effective when they appear. Besides showcasing powers perfectly, the dialogue of non-stop quips, guilt driven undertones and Spidey Cartheme of hope, expertly bring the attitude of a Spider-Man comic to life. The iconic suit returns and has never looked better; it does not suffer from being as shinny or rubber-looking as previous iterations.

Almost every scene is fun, fantastic and completely mesmerizing. ASM2 is a summer popcorn flick done right. Unfortunately, there are sections of the story which don’t make sense, character arcs that serve no purpose and comic-book science throughout the film that will detract from fans expecting Captain America: Winter Solider levels of storytelling. This film’s goal is to be enjoyable, and in that regard, it succeeds.

What is a Critical Hit!

Peter Parker is defined by his determination to succeed despite the odds, failing in social situations and struggling to maintain a balance between his superhero life and civilian duties. Andrew Garfield nails all of these emotions and retains a sense of likeability. Peter is trying to do the best that he can, even when those around him don’t agree with his decision on how to get there. Garfield is jovial and charismatic with every scene involving Gwen, Harry or Aunt May, but also depicts the glib nature of Spidey’s smart mouth during battle.

Gwen Stacey is the love of Peter’s life and the true heart of this film. Emma Stone portrays Gwen as a capable, intelligent and reliable companion. She isn’t a damsel in distress and provides guidance and direction that Peter and Spidey need. Garfield and Stone have great chemistry together and this plays out well throughout the film.

The primary villain within this story, Electro does not start off as a power hungry megalomaniac. Jamie Foxx plays Max Dillon as a Gwenmumbling scientist who is trying to be recognized for his achievements and just be accepted. He is a cross between Milton from Office Space and Edward Nigma from Batman Forever. It makes for a tragic origin story. Through the gain of his new found abilities, Dillon seeks to claim glory and have his name in lights. Foxx does a great job playing up this transition and is able to switch between forgotten Dillon to powerful Electro flawlessly during the journey.

Electro’s powerset and abilities are visually interesting and dynamic. The times when Spidey fights Electro are the most memorable within the film. It previous films, most of Spidey’s battles result in fisticuffs but this one was able to capture the feeling of aerial combat and long range attacks. Due to Electro’s massive power abilities, it creates a believable challenge for Spidey to overcome and one that appears to be difficult for him the entire time.

The film concludes with every plotline completed. This is not a cliffhanger installment but the second chapter in a more epic tale. Yes, there are obvious allusions to future releases but the story told within these 142 minutes come to a satisfying end. The last Peterscene in particular reemphasizes the feeling of hope that Spider-Man brings to the world.

What is Not Very Effective…

ASM2 does a good job tweaking characters from the comics, to make them work within the framework of the story. One of the characters who doesn’t mesh well within this universe is Harry Osborn. This isn’t a critique of Dane DeHaan, who does an excellent job with the script provided. There are just too many leaps in logic and coincidences that occur with Harry. His family reveal comes across abruptly and would be something viewers would expect he would know. The corporate scenes don’t play out well; the “espionage” is obvious and forced. His relationship with Peter is based upon a flimsy premise of a past connection. And His single minded approach to solve his problem creates most of the over the top sequences within the film and feel rushed.

The overall story feels too convenient. Events line up perfectly for scenes to occur, characters happen to cross paths through chance and the timing always seems to work out for the tale. Just when Peter is at his lowest, he will reveal the motivation he needs to keep pushing forward. In a city as large as New York, characters are able to find each other with the simplest of ease. Characters are able to master their newfound powers with no prior experience required.

Paul Giamatti plays the Russian mobster Aleksei Sytsevich oddly. His “Russian” accent feels more at place in a cliché 1970’s movie than here. Almost everything that he says is a one-liner sound bite and despite the tattoo’s and yelling, he never comes across as ASM2 Gwenanything besides a random thug. Fortunately, he is not in the film long enough to detract from the experience.

Aunt May, played by Sally Field, has one powerful scene with Peter in the middle of the movie. Besides that, she is more of a set piece and distraction than an actual character.

Status Summary

ASM2 is able to be humorous, without being campy, contains large epic action sequences to show off the characters and utilize a spectacular soundtrack. There are great moments with ‘spider’ themed songs throughout the movie. The story doesn’t always make sense as a cohesive whole, but each individual scene is enjoyable to watch. Garfield leads a multi-talented cast that deliver the best Spider-Man story available outside of the comics. This movie is able to juggle multiple villains without stumbling and pushes the franchise forward.

If you prefer your movies to be grounded and winning Oscars than this is one spectacle you should swing past. If you enjoy films with great visuals, unique usage of sound and depict heroes with heart than this is a movie that will stick with you.

Score: 8.5 /10
+ Depicts Powers Perfectly
+ Visually Impressive
+ Funny, not campy
+ Garfield IS Spider-Man
+ Peter’s Relationships
– Comic Book Science
–  Plot Holes in Story

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