The Not-So-Amazing Spider-Man 2

Well I got the chance to see The Amazing Spider-Man 2. In short, I was unimpressed.

Amazing Spider-Man 2

 

The Amazing Spider-Man 2 (2014) – Rated PG-13

Peter Parker runs the gauntlet as the mysterious company Oscorp sends up a slew of supervillains against him, impacting on his life.”

Sam Raimi’s Spider-Man was brilliant. He captured the mopey, nebbishy, picked on nerd that was Peter Parker and pretty much nailed all the other characters with a near perfect cast. Not only were Norman Osborn, Aunt May, and Mary Jane Watson spot on but so were lesser characters like J. Jonah Jameson and Flash Thompson.

Spider-Man 2 was even more brilliant as we didn’t have to spend screentime on the hero origin story. Alfred Molina was perfectly cast as a tormented Dr. Octopus. The web-slinging and swinging nature of our hero was even better defined.

Spider-Man 3 was, of course, a major misstep. It attempted to be three movies in one: the continuation of our story with Spidey and the Green Goblin, the black suit Venom story, and an attempt to create another tragic villain in The Sandman. The Venom story is the worst because Peter spends a lot of time being essentially the opposite of Peter, and very unsympathetic to boot.

For various reasons, Spider-Man 4 was put on the back burner. Sam Raimi, Tobey Maguire, and Kirsten Dunst were all set to receive $30 million each for the new film. Sony/Columbia opted for a reboot instead and, not wanting the rights to revert back to Marvel, rushed The Amazing Spider-Man into production.

The Amazing Spider-Man was a mixed bag. They made Spider-Man and the other characters more grounded. The writers adapted elements of Brian Michael Bendis’ Ultimate Spider-Man that Raimi had not. In a throwback to the original comics, they dropped the biological webshooters in favor of ones that Peter creates. This allowed the oft-used gag of Peter running dry at an inopportune moment.

The Amazing Spider-Man should not have worked. It is a reboot so we have to watch the origin of Spider-Man all over again, although it is quite a bit different than Raimi’s version. Martin Sheen and Sally Field are good but Cliff Robertson and Rosemary Harris were iconic as Ben and May Parker. The Lizard is ill-defined and ill-used, relying too heavily on unimpressive CGI.

Where it works is the chemistry between Andrew Garfield as Peter Parker and Emma Stone as Gwen Stacy. They are great separately and together. Garfield nails Peter’s sarcastic nature and Spidey’s general quippiness. Emma Stone is sweet as Gwen Stacy. Their chemistry is great and they both have good comic timing. Denis Leary makes a great Captain Stacy as well.

Unfortunately, while The Amazing Spider-Man 2 learns some of what works from its forebears. it also fails to learn other lessons. We have too many villains – Electro, The Rhino, The Green Goblin and not enough story.

 

The villains themselves are a huge disappointment. Electro from the comics has been changed into a clone of Dr. Manhattan from Watchmen – not just the way he looks but the he moves and acts. The Rhino appears in a brief yet ridiculous segment – the fight scene in the trailer is essentially the entire fight. While The Green Goblin in Raimi’s version was a little silly, here he is much worse. The Green Goblin is so poorly executed that they only show glimpses of the glider in the trailer- even the studio is embarrassed to show you.

Perversely, we also have too much story as the unnecessary parts about Peter’s parents from the first film are featured more heavily here. At two hours and twenty-one minutes, it suffers from summer bloat. Captain America: The Winter Soldier clocked in at two hours and nine minutes and none of it felt wasted.

The action sequences are good but there are no showstoppers. In fact there seemed to be no building action in the film. It was exposition, dialogue, action, repeat. I had no idea when the film was going to end because there never seemed to be a climax.

Andrew Garfield and Emma Stone are wonderful as they were in the first film. Their relationship is probably the best part of the film.

The Amazing Spider-Man 2 isn’t bad, just deeply disappointing. I hope this does not bode ill for summer.