Matthew Hoemke

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The Amazing Spider-man 2


Rating: **1/2 out of 4



(image courtesy from sciencefiction.com)


The plucky web-crawler slings his web into theaters for the fifth time in twelve years and boy is it feeling derivative. The story finds Peter Parker in a will they/won’t they romance with his lady love, Spider-Man facing off with his occasionally psychotic best friend, and matching wits with super villains writ with the complexity of a doily.  None of this is new ground to be covered.


In fact when you break it down, in all five films you find the same romance, in four of the films Peter and Harry are at odds, in three of the films he fights the Green Goblin, in two of the films he is matched against too many villains who aren’t fully developed, and in this film you can’t help but feel that the franchise is being piloted blindly just going through the motions of what worked before.


That isn’t to say there was not good material here.  However derivative the film felt, it still manages to work well enough for you to look past these flaws.  Sure, we watch Harry Osborn get shoe horned into the Green Goblin in this film; an arc that took the previous trilogy three films to tell but happens over the course of 90 minutes in this one.  But actor Dane DeHaan sells the character with a devilishly energetic take on the character.


As with the previous film, Andrew Garfield and Emma Stone eat up every scene together.  Garfield nails his scenes as Spider-Man, though I’d still give the edge to Maguire’s take on Peter.  The scene’s with Spider-Man swinging through New York and interacting with the pedestrians perfectly captures the essence of Spidy from the comics.  Emma Stone remains the reason to watch the film.  She adds such a lovely presence and their romantic bond gets your tummy all tingly.


The film is at its weakest during the action beats, mainly because director Marc Webb doesn’t know how to handle them, though he shows improvement with this film.  Still, he works well as director because the film’s action isn’t the fulcrum of the picture, its romance is and Webb is gifted at telling a screen romance (as seen in 2009’s excellent(500) Days of Summer).



The characterization of the baddies in this film is also unimpressive.  Jamie Foxx’s Electro is a rehash of Jim Carrey’s Riddler from Batman Forever, which is interesting as both actors started out as comedians on In Living Color.  Electro is a visual feast, but unfortunately that is the only interesting thing about him.  He is one of the lamest executions of a comic book character ever.  Five years from now, no one will be talking about Electro based on this film.  He’s cookie cutter, and that is being generous.  Gobby is alright, but feels rushed and I can’t help but complain that we saw this villain two films ago in Spider-Man 3.  But, let’s discuss the Rhino.  My god is he obnoxious!!!  I usually love Paul Giamatti, but he hams up the screen so badly that he makes Mr. Freeze cringe.


Villains aside, the film really comes together in the final thirty minutes.  The watchtower scene is perfectly executed, and if you pay attention to the time on the clock there is a pretty savvy treat for fan boys out there.  The scene with Webhead and Gwen on the bridge before the final battle is heartwarming and really adds to the emotional impact of the end of the film.


I do wish that the score had done more to move me.  The whole score sounded like it would have been suitable for a 70’s TV show such as The Incredible Hulk.  I also wish that the filmmakers would work on tightening their script for Spidy’s next go around.  The plot with Peter’s parents seems superfluous and is completely uninteresting, and constantly setting up new potential villains in Spider Slayer, and Black Cat seems unnecessary.  The problem with both of Webb’s Spider-Man films is that they lack focus.  He is trying to do too much world building that it is hindering the story telling.  Let the story guide, not the potential sequels and spin-offs, but I digress.


Roger Ebert once said that a good film has three good scenes and no bad scenes.  This film definitely has three good scenes (all in the climax); Peter and Gwen before the final battle, the clock tower scene, and young Spider-Man facing off with Rhino.  And, while I found some scenes to be laughable or obnoxious, none were outright bad.  I’m cautiously optimistic with the forthcoming third installment based on the execution of this film’s climax.  Perhaps all this world building will pay off and get the first truly great Spider-Man film since 2004.  This definitely is the second best Spider-Man 2ever made, let’s hope the next film is the best Spider-Man 3.

                                                                                                    -May 2014