Friday, May 2 2014, 02:30 PM MDT
Movie Review: The Amazing Spider-Man 2
3 out of 5 Stars
Director: Marc Webb
Starring: Andrew Garfield, Emma Stone, Jamie Foxx
Genre: Action, Adventure, Fantasy
Recommended To: Fans of superhero films that mistakenly emphasize action over character.
Synopsis: Peter Parker (Andrew Garfield) haunted by his promise to Gwen's (Emma Stone) dead father, Captain Stacy (Denis Leary), to keep her safe, struggles to keep his life as Spider-man separate from his unmasked persona. Meanwhile an accident at Oscorp unleashes another foe for Spider-man to contend with.
Review: There are moments in The Amazing Spider-Man 2 that are so emotionally rich and engaging that it's hard to explain why ultimately I find the film to be a major disappointment. What works is Andrew Garfield and Emma Stone. As Peter and Gwen they are perfectly cast and their off-screen romance bleeds over to their onscreen performances. The downside is that the film packs in a trio of villains in the form of Jamie Foxx's Electro, Dane DeHaan's Green Goblin and Paul Giamatti's Rhino and the time spent with these characters, particularly the Rhino, is time that could have been better spent with Peter and Gwen. The film also treads a lot of water as it unnecessarily relies on flashbacks, much like the first film, and while I appreciate the desire to explore Peter Parker's attempt to discover and come to terms with why his parents abandoned him it feels a bit too clunky and forced to be effective.
Then there is the way director Marc Webb handles the action sequences. We've all become accustomed to the use of CGI in film, but when you have a masked superhero its extremely important that you do as much on set, rather than in a computer, as possible. Almost everything in this film feels fake. It's something that Sam Raimi's films struggled with, but with the improvement of technology and Raimi's films as a reference point Spider-man shouldn't look so rubbery. It doesn't help that Webb shoots a the fight sequences in a claustrophobic style that relies on quick editing tricks to give the fights a kinetic and frantic pace that often renders the choreography useless and unintelligible. I love Webb's ability to tap into the emotional core of the film's characters, much like he did in (500) Days of Summer, but his action direction leaves a lot to be desired.
There's also the fact that screenwriters Alex Kurtzman, Roberto Orci and Jeff Pinkner (and whatever Sony executives were looking over their shoulders) are so concerned about setting up The Amazing Spider-Man 3 and The Sinister Six films that they seem to forget that a lackluster The Amazing Spider-Man 2 is going to undermine their plans for cinematic world dominance. Raimi's Spider-Man 3 was derailed by similar logic (AKA studio tampering) and weakened the franchise to the point that a reboot was deemed necessary. We won't be seeing a reboot anytime soon, although all things considered I wish that a lot more thought had been put into both of Marc Webb's films as neither have given Garfield and Stone material worthy of their talent. Had this script focused more on the relationship between Peter and Gwen, which plays directly into Webb's strength as a director, rather than the campy Electro and campier Rhino (who feel lifted from Joel Schumacher's Batman movies) the film would have been vastly improved.
-Ryan Michael Painter