The Amazing Spider-Man 2 (2014) Review


The Amazing Spider-Man 2: Rise of Electro (2014)
Review by Jayme K.

Alright, so I just got finished watching this. I have a lot of feelings about this film because, really, it’s just all over the place in terms of tone and themes and intent. First off, I want to make it clear that this is successor to The Amazing Spider-Man (which I was not a fan of) is far better than the original. It outdoes the first movie in just about every way. Then again, I suppose that movie set the bar pretty low—seeing as I’d rather revisit Sam Raimi’s Spider-Man 3 before that…

The movie starts off in an interesting way—it’s a first for a comic book film. We’re given a very minor villain, Rhino (Paul Giamatti), who serves no fundamental purpose to the overall plot of the story. He’s merely a bookend. I like that. I like that we’ve reached a point in cinema where we can have notable villains float in and out without having to play a part in the grand scheme of things.

That being said, The Amazing Spider-Man 2's abundance of characters is also the movie's weakness. While Paul Giammati's Rhino may not lessen the film, it certainly becomes overcrowded when the great Dane DeHaan steps foot on screen as Harry Osbourne. Even though DeHaan is one of the best parts of this film his presence just seems… unnecessary. Because of his involvement in the story the friendship between Peter (Andrew Garfield) and Harry seems rushed, sloppy, and unbelievable. We're expected to believe that Harry and Peter were close friends at age nine or ten and that after a decade without contact they'd actually have a mutual interest in meeting up and being pals. Uh… Right… I can easily say that some of the friends I had at age ten I've gone without seeing for years and have zero interest in being around. It just seems like a stretch that Harry, especially after the death of his father and inheriting Oscorp, would suddenly be like, “Oh, hey, it's Peter—my friend from ten years ago. Let me go hang out with him and ignore all these huge responsibilities because I have nothing better to do.” And on top of that Harry is dying? The fuck? 

While this is all happening we’re forced to deal with Jamie Foxx hamming it up ala Jim Carrey in Batman Forever. Max Dillion is a carbon copy of Edward Nygma, except kind of Aspergersy. Honestly I wished they would have altered his character, pre-Electro transformation, because this cartoonish caricature Foxx plays doesn’t jive with the heavy themes the story tries to convey. Electro’s motive, also, is fairly blasé. He just goes off the rails and wants revenge on everyone. Okay, got it.

For all my criticisms though, I did enjoy this movie. Garfield has really come into his own as Spider-Man. There were actually a few lines that made me laugh out loud during the movie. He’s proven himself to be a worthy follow up to Tobey Maguire. Emma Stone is, also, impeccable. Her Gwen Stacey is probably the most likable character in the film. I wish we’d gotten to see more of her. Her relationship with Peter is one of the strongest points of the film and it’s actually one of the few on-screen romances in a superhero movie that truly works. To reel back to my claim that the feature is overcrowded—I can’t see how they would have ever had time to fit in Mary Jane Watson (Shailene Woodley) now that I’ve seen the finished product. There’s too much going on as it is. I really believe that her scenes being cut from the movie had nothing to do with the fan outrage and everything to do with there being too many characters.

Without delving too heavily into spoilers, I have to echo many reviewers’ sentiment that this is a fairly close adaption to the 1960s Saturday morning cartoon. But in that same regard, it’s still holding onto the strands of darkness that were present in The Amazing Spider-Man. It doesn’t know what kind of tone to take so it tries to blend darkness and lightness, much like Joel Schumacher’s Batman Forever. I know I’ve made that comparison before, but that’s the general vibe I took away from this film. It reeks of Batman Forever

Because of that The Amazing Spider-Man 2 is very hit and miss. It’s choppy. But that doesn’t mean it’s not an enjoyable film. I’d venture to say it’s better than both the original and Spider-Man 3. Marc Webb still has a long way to go to rival Sam Raimi’s first two outings but this isn’t a complete misstep in the budding franchise.