Review – The Amazing Spider-Man 2

ASM 2 PosterStarring Andrew Garfield, Emma Stone, Jamie Foxx and Dane DeHaan
Directed by Marc Webb

Let’s get this out of the way at the very beginning; The Amazing Spider-Man 2 does a lot more right than wrong. It’s main crime is that like last year’s Man of Steel, it’s not perfect. In an age where Marvel Studios has set the standard so high, fans tend to be a lot less forgiving of anything short of a homerun. Overall, The Amazing Spider-Man 2 is infinitely more watchable than Man of Steel and director Marc Webb’s world is definitely more enjoyable than Sam Raimi’s.

What The Amazing Spider-Man 2 does right, it knocks right out of the park. It looks spectacular. Regardless of anything else, it a slick-looking movie. The Electro effects are really cool and Spidey looks better in action here than he ever has before. The cast is equally excellent. Andrew Garfield is still a perfect Peter Parker/Spider-Man. Likewise, Emma Stone embodies Gwen Stacy like she was born to play her. The entire returning cast is perfect, just like they were in the first movie. Jamie Foxx’s take on Max Dillon, the invisible electrician is interesting. A lot has been made of the fact that he straight up falls in a tank full of eels to get his powers, and while that is definitely a bit hokey, it gets the job done and takes nothing away from his performance. The ridiculous musical bed during the Times Square fight does that all by itself. He goes a little over the top in some of his early scenes, but it fits in with this take on the character.

*Spoiler Warning From Here on Out, Kids*

It’s hard to get a read on Dane DeHaan’s Harry Osborn. His early scenes with Peter are very good. He’s a fine actor. It just feels like there’s a lot left unsaid about his character, which brings us to the biggest flaw in the movie: the plot. There’s a lot going on in this movie, so much that it makes the whole thing feel a little clunky. The movie spends a lot of time on Peter’s father and the nature of his research and why they disappeared. The movie’s opening scene is not Spider-Man chasing down not-yet-Rhino. It’s a long scene with Peter’s parents in a jet where they meet their untimely demise.

Spidey's never looked better.

Spidey’s never looked better.

That’s how much emphasis this movie puts on that plotline. It starts the whole movie. It’s all predicated on seeds planted in the first movie, but it’s an odd choice to focus so much on what is a largely ignored aspect of Peter’s backstory in the comics. Maybe that’s why they chose to spend so much time on it. There’s a more or less a blank slate on Richard and Mary, so there’s not much room for misinterpretation, but it comes at the expense of the rest of the movie. Peter and Gwen’s complicated relationship is really well done. Peter’s few scenes with Aunt May are really great. There’s a lot about the story that works, but there’s quite a bit that doesn’t.

Norman Osborn, arguably Spider-Man’s greatest villain, is relegated to the sidelines. He has one scene with Harry and is shown in some old recorded footage, but that’s it. According to the trailer, some of his scenes were edited to be even shorter. From the very first trailer, we were shown a moment where Norman sets Harry upon Peter in some capacity, but it was totally excised from the final cut, as was the scene where Harry shows Peter that Oscorp had him under surveillance. That scene and everything around it would no doubt give more weight to Harry’s discovery that Peter and Spider-Man are one in the same.

It’s also never really spelled out what’s wrong with Norman and Harry. It’s some disease, but it’s all very vague. Harry’s plan to heal himself goes wrong, but it’s okay because there’s a new armor thing nearby that heals the damage done to him by the super spider venom. Does that mean they could have strapped Norman into that thing and saved him? Maybe. It’s all really unclear what the suit did versus what the venom did, just like it’s unclear as to how Harry ends up arrested and normal-looking at the end of the movie. When he was a whacked-out not-quite-Goblin when we last saw him. Despite feeling really long in places, there’s a lot left out of this movie.

Luckily, one of the plot points involved building the perfect place for a boss fight.

Luckily, one of the plot points involved building the perfect place for a boss fight.

On the bright side, there’s a good bit of world-building happening. With a 3rd Spidey movie in the works, along with dedicated Sinister Six and Venom movies coming up, there’s a lot of opportunity to fill in these gaps later. Regardless of how it all shakes out, it doesn’t change that there are a lot of missed opportunities in this movie. Great performances, spectacular effects and fun action sequences aren’t enough to save the movie thanks to its clunky plot and odd narrative choices. Taking all that in, we give The Amazing Spider-Man 2 3.5 out of 5 ridiculous hidden subway labs. It’s absolutely worth seeing and the good stuff is a lot of fun. It’s just nowhere as polished as its predecessor, let alone the current crop of Marvel movies.

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Lee Rodriguez is a co-founder and Editor-in-Chief of Panels On Pages. He is also a freelance graphic and web designer, action figure customizer, swell guy, and an awesome dad.

I'm even on Google+... Kind of.

Comments (4)

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  1. Ben Gilbert says:

    I haven’t seen it yet and will more than likely wait for DVD. Honestly, I was never super excited about this, not because I thought it would be bad, but mostly because I’m a little burned out on Spider-Man movies. Spidey has always been my favorite comic book superhero and I’ve never been 100% satisfied with any of the movies, even though I’ve liked most of them. I almost wish that one of these movies would completely bomb so that one day we could get a well-made live action Spider-Man TV show along the lines of the ones coming to Netflix next year that would better utilize Spidey and his huge cast of supporting characters and rogues. I know that’s a total pipe dream, but I’d prefer that to a two-hour Spider-Man movie.

  2. KomicKev says:

    The whole Green Goblin thing was shoehorned in and felt out of place. Introducing Harry and having him and Peter bond more would have been more appropriate. Green Goblin could have easily been the main villain for the third movie. Wasn’t MJ supposed to be a small part of this movie so she could fill in for Gwen in the third one?

    I read another review that was so nitpicky that they wondered how the gap in Max’s teeth was suddenly gone when he became Electro? His whole body was decimated and then rebuilt out of electricity (or something) – – duh! Why would he want to rebuild himself with a gap in his teeth?

    But we got shots of Doc Ock’s arms, the Vulture’s wings, Felicia Hardy (Black Cat), the Green Goblin (of course), the Rhino, and a possible return of Electro (just need to reanimate him from that little gizmo). There’s our Sinister Six!

  3. D-Rock says:

    I think you’ve summed it up pretty well here, maybe a bit nicer in some regards than I would have been. I mean, electric eels? C’mon. It’s 2014, you’ve got to do better than that. Calling it hokey is being way too polite. What (disappointingly) surprised me was how slow the movie felt. I’m not enamoured with Spider-Man like most on this site, so watching some scenes drag on was just dull.

    The one thing I will disagree with, is that I’d take Man Of Steel any day, but that’s just our preferences ;-)

    I feel like I’d rate this as a C, maybe a generous B- because it thought the action scene with Gwen at the end was well done.

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