Starring: Andrew Garfield, Emma Stone, Jamie Foxx, Dane DeHaan, Colm Feore, Felicity Jones, Paul Giamatti, Sally Field
for sequences of sic-fi action and violence
Reviewer: Carol Hemphill & Kent Tentschert
Since 2002 Columbia Pictures (Sony) has been bringing Spider-Man to the masses – with mixed results.
2002’s “Spider-Man,” starring Tobey McGuire seemed to capture the spirit of the comic as well as captivated audiences with its action and romance.
Since then the franchise has struggled – until 2012’s “The Amazing Spider-Man” reboot starring Andrew Garfield. This critically acclaimed film’s successor “The Amazing Spider-Man 2” teeters on a precipice of success or failure, having gained some momentum as a sequel.
With the success of the armload of films released by Marvel, Columbia has strived to match Marvel’s triumphant franchise formula which meshes a deep, layered action-driven story that pleases both casual and hard-core fans.
“The Amazing Spider-Man 2” falls short when compared to Marvel’s Marvelous stable of superhero films, yet that’s not to say Spidey 2 doesn’t have merit. Proudly wearing its themes like medals, these heavy-handed values are worthy but lack a necessary subtle edge. The cast is skilled in giving good performances and the special effects are outstanding.
The plot and writing are straight-forward, harkening back to a traditional vintage super-hero story, however, this is where the film fails. The writing limits the success of this film. Regardless of the skill of the cast, if you aren’t given a story, dialogue or moments with which to shine – you’re performance is limited.
The writing also creates the balance of a film. Here, it is a balance between light-hearted moments and drama, emotional moments and action. Peter Parker’s emotional pallette throughout, struggling with what should be teenage angst, but instead comes across as indecision, while Spider-Man slings sarcasm more than he does webs as this goofy superhero acrobatically disables villains. The writing also paces the film and here the pace is nice and rhythmic with a good balance between action and story.
Other areas where this film gets caught in its own web is in the 2.5-hour length, and some problematic plot holes. More isn’t necessarily better. With too many villians, this film loses focus in its third act while certain plot devices never get tied up, leaving glaring plot holes (the purpose of Dad’s secret lab and Auntie’s job as a nurse).
Fueled by revenge, both business magnate Harry Osborn, (Dane DeHaan) and the charged Electro (Jamie Foxx) team up to put their resources where their power lies, in order to destroy the webbed crusader. The talented cast beautifully carries the cinematic load causing one to wonder what they could do with a Marvel script.
The special effects and CGI perspectives are outstanding as we swing along with Spidey to experience the stomach-churning 3D POV and fun uses for his web.
Sony owns the rights to Spider-Man as long as they continue to release Spider-Man films regularly, allowing them to continue to tweak their formula in a search for the right balance of action, characterization and story. Although this sequel is a step in the right direction, its simplicity, straight-forward nature and inconsistent, emotional content make this film a sticky prospect.
Peter Parker, aka Spider-Man (Andrew Garfield), and his love, Gwen (Emma Stone), have just graduated from high school. Their future together comes into doubt when the safety of New York City is threatened by a host of evil forces: the lit up Electro (Jamie Foxx), Harry Osborn (Dane DeHaan), Aleksie Sytsevich (Paul Giamatti), a power hungry corporate exec and a mad doctor.
While broad in scope this long, bloated extravaganza has neither the time nor the will to go deep. The 3-D effects satisfy far more than the story.
“The Amazing Spider-Man 2” does not do its job convincing us of Peter Parker’s sense of duty and the resulting pain. Against a field of unbalanced villains, his character is the most uneven of all. We’re told but don’t feel his struggles; his uncertainty is a mere plot device. Even worse, his gravity is eroded by misplaced humor and ill-timed cockiness.
Two questions must be asked. First, do we really need another Spider-Man movie? (This is the fifth feature film in 12 years.) It is true that a new, young generation may be ready but for older fans the redundancy will rankle.
Still, if the answer to the first question is yes, we do need another Spider-Man movie, then the second questions has to be, is this the one we need? In terms of story, the saga moves forward. In terms of the continuing development of a complex hero, it does not.