Sony Entertainment’s reign of average, acceptable film making continues. The Amazing Spider-Man 2 shakes off its predecessor’s shackles of the origin story and has some great moments, but suffers from some old, overriding problems.
Peter Parker has his work cut out for him protecting the city of New York from criminals, but when a fan of his named Max Dillion suffers a terrible accident inside Oscorp tower and becomes Electro, a being of pure electricity, his greatest challenge emerges. Meanwhile, Peter searches for answers about why his parents left him.
I’m going to say it… and it isn’t a pleasant thing to say, but this film reminds me of Spider-man 3 (minus the jazz club dancing).
Oh snap I’ve done it now!
The Amazing Spider-man 2, as cliche as it is to say in a review, suffers from having too many villains. I’m sorry but it is true. We have an angry Russian who nicknames himself Rhino, we have Harry Osborne summoned into the series after his absence in Part 1, and we have Max “Electro” Dillion. Why is Rhino an angry Russian? Because he is Russian… and he is angry.
Max, played by Jamie Foxx, is excellent though and desperately wants to be the core focus of the film, and if it weren’t for Emma Stone and Andrew Garfield maintaining their good performances, he might have stolen the show. One of the film’s greatest moments is when Max finds himself with his new powers and face to face with his idol, Spider-man; it is a unique scene that challenges the way we perceive heroes and villains and even starts to weave a different relationship between our hero and his nemesis. It is truly remarkable.
It is a shame that Electro’s character never returns to this purgatory of self… once he goes into the deep end of villainy the screenplay never allows him to resurface again.
Why? Because we need to push Harry Osborne into the story. Played by Chronicle's excellent Dane DeHaan, Harry unfortunately feels rushed and not enough of the film's ridiculously long 140 minute cycle is given to his development. We must accept that Harry and Peter are life-long friends, why, the film gives us a whole entire scene for it!
Here’s my problem. A villain inspires and challenges our hero to change and to adapt their personality, but here, everything is so crammed with stuff (most of it deemed only for sake of convenience) that nothing feels connected or genuine. Plot threads are just tossed at us: Oh yeah, Peter works for the Daily Bugle now, that’s his job now (which he’s never actually shown doing, ever, we never see the Daily Bugle). Oh, without any outside influence, Peter is going to go crazy and start looking for his parents suddenly. Oh, because we have the city under threat (100 minutes in) we need to establish that Aunt May is in fact, a nurse at a hospital.
They have all the characters doing what they should be doing, but there’s no setup, there’s no build up to anything, its like watching a magician pull a rabbit out of his hat without showing the rabbit disappear first!
Harry Osborne is the definition of this issue… he gets no build up outside of a single scene, and when a story starts doing these things you find yourself not watching characters but watching the gears and gizmos controlling them.
Sigh. I really wanted to like this film more, but in today’s over-indulgence of superhero films you have to start looking for uniqueness, or at least integrity. The special effects are very good, Spider-man’s suit actually looks superior in this film compared to all previous films (I think its the white eyes) and Electro does bring a lot of gravitas to the proceedings.
There are scenes that are extremely good, Electro should have had the film all to himself, but once again… a film studio that isn’t Marvel Studios feels like its rushing to get stuff done.
Additional marshmallows: The 3D of the film is almost entirely during the web-swinging scenes, everything else is regular 2D near enough. If you are a fan of Rhino, you will be disappointed; he may as well have been cut from the film.
MOST of the action sequences Sony released in the millions of trailers feature in the last fifteen minutes. I’m not even kidding.