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The Amazing Spider-Man 2 follows Peter Parker’s journey as the consequences of being a vigilante begin to catch up with him. For the second entry in this (somehwat forced) new Spider-series, there’s a lot of pieces that are meant to set up future adventures, which leaves the experience of watching this film frustrating, though the film has its moments.

The Players

Plot:

Peter Parker (Garfield) grapples with the effect being Spider-Man will have on those closest to him. As he tries to distance himself away from those who he loves to carry the burden of his new found responsibility, his girlfriend Gwen Stacy (Stone) only reiterates to him that people have the choice to be a part of his life. Peter worries about the danger he poses to her and his childhood friend Harry Osborn (DeHaan) who inherits Oscorp after his father (Chris Cooper) passes away from a genetic condition. Knowing that Peter snaps images of Spidey, Harry asks his friend to help him find the web slinger in order to combat the disease that threatens his life as he pieced together that Spider-Man’s abilities were part of their father’s work.  Harry resorts to extremes when it seems that Spider-Man won’t deliver. He teams up with Electro (Foxx), the unstable casualty of Oscorp’s dangerous experiments whose powers of electricity poses the right kind of threat to our masked hero.

The Good

  • Directing: Marc Webb has a keen eye for making the audience inhabit the world of Spider-Man. All of the visuals engross viewers in the hero’s battles but also captures the realism of Peter Parker’s life. The strengths of his direction are seen in what he brings out of the collaboration between the actors and the unbelievable action sequences the characters go through.
  • Spider-Man: Garfield truly defines his take on Peter as Spider-Man in this picture and fully realizes his turn as the iconic superhero. He is the wisecracking, punkish, Spidey with tinges of the 80′s-90′s character. He is a smart-ass and plays up the “too cocky for his own good” personality as he faces the challenges of being the protector of his city. The consequences of his actions promise to show what Garfield can do with the progression of the character in the next picture.
  • Chemistry: It is fortunate that the scenes with Mary Jane were cut. They would have imposed upon the story between Peter and Gwen Stacy. Stone and Garfield’s chemistry is palpable without taking away from the characters they play. Stone brings her A game to solidify the reasons why Gwen has such a profound effect on Peter’s life by taking actions on her terms and delivering the theme of the sequel’s story. She’s it’s biggest saving grace.
  • Dane DeHaan: DeHaan plays a perfect foil to Garfield’s Peter Parker and his Spider-Man. He captures the spirit of the character in a very modern way that presents Harry as not just another spoiled rich kid but also as another casualty of Oscorp and most importantly–of his father.  There was promise in his moments of anger and pain that could have made him a villain we could sympathize with if not for the script’s weaknesses.

The So-So

  • Electro: Jamie Foxx’s acting chops are underused as Max Dillion/Electro, the bumbling nerd nobody who accidentally gains superpowers and learns to hate his hero Spider-Man. Even as Max, the character is not quite accessible or relatable. Foxx has a great presence as Electro but if the character’s motivations had been better earned he would have been a worthy adversary to Spider-Man. He goes from an unrealistic painfully awkward nerd to a force of nature we don’t quite root for or against. To make matters worse the voices in his head are odd chants over dub-step that just did not work.
  • The Father Issues: It would have been great to have not only Peter’s relationship with his father be explored but have it parallel Harry’s loss as well. They both react differently to their father’s legacies and a clearer contrast to Peter had been established with Harry it would have raised the stakes more for the audience.
  • The Action: The action sequences bring us more into the hero’s point of view and the 3D greatly improves the experience. However, the sheer amount of crazy CG is super-distracting from the movie and takes away from the realistic urban action scenes.

The Bad

  • The Script: The story was poorly developed and gets lost in the clutter of villains that Spider-Man goes up against. The discoveries that Peter makes are lost in the overabundance of exposition about the past. A lot of the film’s point is told and not shown and it becomes groan-worthy after a while. You get exposition from Peter’s dad in the past video blogging about his actions that takes up so much time that you can’t really tell how it sinks in for Pete. On Norman’s deathbed you get a verbal regurgitation session of exposition between the Osborn’s that is a waste of DeHaan and Cooper’s talent to fill in the audience on the father/son relationship. You also don’t get enough about Max/Electro’s story or even the Rhino for that matter. So much is just crammed in that the good gets overshadowed by the excess. It’s not coherent and some of the movie’s best moments between the actors get bogged down by the script throwing as much as it can in.

Overall:

The Amazing Spider-Man 2 is visually entertaining but does not reveal much of the heart of what Spider-Man the hero stands for. The actors and director do bring out notes of what their interpretation of Marvel’s beloved universe wants to say about the importance of hope despite the obstacles but it kinda just gets lost in the mix of everything that gets introduced in this picture. Apparently setting up the next movies seemed to take precedence over making the audience care about the character arcs.

Grade: 7/10

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