Peter Parker returns in the sequel to 2012’s mostly un-needed reboot of the Spider-Man franchise, The Amazing Spider-Man. This time the titular character, played by Andrew Garfield, faces against new foes Max Dylan/Electro (Jamie Foxx) and Harry Osbourn/Green Goblin (Dane DeHaan), with a quick cameo from The Rhino (Paul Giamatti). Parker’s relationship with Gwen Stacy (Emma Stone) is more at stake than ever, blah blah. The paper-thin plot for this film is difficult to even fully describe, because it’s so messy and lacks any kind of real motive. Why does anything that happens in this movie happen? What’s the point? These are all things I left this movie thinking out loud to myself. For a sequel to a lackluster reboot, that is coming just at the ten year mark of the franchise’s FIRST sequel film, The Amazing Spider-Man 2 feels nothing more than a quick cash grab with no heart, and little meaning.
Nearly every issue that the first film had is amplified in this sequel. Bogged down by poor editing, and laughably bad dialogue, The Amazing Spider-Man 2 also throws in some non-existent Character Development to really sweeten the pot. Jamie Foxx’s character is given maybe a whole whopping five minutes of exposition before becoming the Electrified Dr. Manhattan rip-off that is this film’s main villain. Going back to the question, “what is the motive here?”, the most half-assed plot line in this story is that Max Dylan, a highly intelligent but socially awkward electrician who works for Oscorp and also happens to have an Obsession with Spider-Man, is reborn as this villain and wants Spider-man dead because… Peter Parker forgot his name? Are you kidding me?!
The stupidness of Electro’s character can all be summed up within one scene, however. As Electro is tearing his way through New York’s massive Power Station, he’s fighting off Spider-Man by sending blasts of voltage to several different Electricity Towers. Each blast that hits each tower makes a different note, creating a ridiculous “real life” Dubstep track, including a bass drop and all. At first you think, oh this is probably just part of Hans Zimmer’s terrible EDM infused score (hey at least, Spider-Man isn’t swinging around to another Titanic rip-off?), but then Spider-Man shouts “I hate this song”, one of his MANY annoying snarky one liners that are oh, so present in The Amazing Spider-Man 2.
Thus one of the most annoying aspects of this film: Peter Parker. Wherein the first film, he was a humble and shy guy who liked to awkwardly skateboard to Coldplay, this time around Andrew Garfield plays the character as a one note douchey Frat Bro, way too comfortable in his abilities. Every line is drenched with cockiness and ego. It gets old, really fast. When around Gwen Stacy, however, you can’t deny that real life couple Andrew Garfield and Emma Stone’s on-screen chemistry is very real, and very effective. You truly are able to believe that these characters are deeply in love, because, well, they really are. So we don’t need the film’s constant reminders of their feelings for each other with any of the three or four break up scenes.
Really, the visual effects are MOSTLY what keep this sequel from being “terrible”. The shots of Spidey webbing his way around new york are quite fun and quite effective in 3D, even if the rest of the film fails to have an kind of “WOW” factor in three dimensions. Despite Dane DeHaan’s ham-fisted performance as Harry Osborn, the actor does a pretty good job at being interestingly creepy when in the Green Goblin attire. Not to mention one other plot device towards the end of the film, that after two hours of stale one-liners and predictable sequences, felt bold and fresh.
Look, you could technically say that this is a noble effort from Marc Webb? You COULD say that. But should you? This film will be adored by children, and that’s great, but for anyone over the age of 13, it’s just a giant mess full of terrible dialogue, lazy plot lines, Big Bang Theory level offensive stereotypes towards educated socially awkward people, and dozens of questions such as “Why does this 18 year girl know New York’s Power Grid as if she built it herself?”, or “Why is Dane DeHaan doing a Keanu Reeves impression?”. We may never know.
I give The Amazing Spider-Man 2 a 2 out of 5.
By Richard Pepper