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The Amazing Spider-Man 2 (2014)
Tonight's Feature Presentation


Starring: Andrew Garfield, Emma Stone, Jamie Foxx, Dale DeHaan, Sally Field, Paul Giamatti

Written By: Alex Kurtzman (also story), Roberto Orci (also story), Jeff Pinkner (also story), 

James Vanderbilt (story)

Directed By: Marcus Webb

The Short Version

Peter Parker is back to save New York and to find himself!

For the majority of the movie, the “finding himself” is the best part.

But the action is still fun to watch, and Garfield and Stone are brilliant.

Did we really need three named villains?  Too much half-baked stuff going on.

The Amazing Spider-Man 2 hits the sophomore jinx, and hard.

The Long Version

What Kind Of Cheese Is It?


Like the villains here, they’re unfinished. But some people call them a snack anyway.

Pairs Well With...


The real thing has too much stuff in it, but with excellent results; this version is just a waste that leads to regrets later.

“I should kill you.”

“Oh, come on!  Think bigger, Max!”

On second thought: don’t do it, Max.  Thinking too big can sometimes cause more headaches than it’s worth.  Next thing you know, you’ll have three named villains in your movie.

Oh, wait.  Yeah.

The Amazing Spider-Man 2 has the ingredients necessary to make not only a decent movie overall, but also that rarest of gems: an outstanding comic book movie sequel.  Unfortunately, the gaggle of writers (and, to be fair, the big wigs who gave them their orders) just can’t settle on one story, and so they toss everything into the pot.  Exciting action and captivating drama are diluted with pointless sequences.  There is a great character development/relationship plot hidden inside this flick, and one epic villain… but unfortunately, the epic villain is marginalized by one overexposed dud and one complete waste of time, and the film they all inhabit overstays its welcome by at least twenty minutes.

The fact that The Amazing Spider-Man 2 still manages not to suck is a testament to the prowess of our two heroic leads and the actors who play them.  Let’s have a look at the highlight reel broken down by characters, shall we?

Spider-Man/Peter Parker.  Historically speaking, a lot of Spider-Man’s appeal has always been his down-to-earth humanity and the fact that he really is a “regular guy” dealing with all of the baggage of being a costumed hero, and as with the first film, the script for The Amazing Spider-Man 2 carries on in that vein.  This film’s Spidey isn’t an action figure with lines; he’s an actual character, and for his own part, Andrew Garfield knocks it out of the park not only as Spider-Man, but also as Peter Parker.  In costume, he very much brings the “Friendly Neighborhood” to Spider-Man, with an accessibility that just can’t be found in any of Marvel’s other generally aloof heroes, while still delivering the action goods.  (With, admittedly, a certainly significant amount of help from the special effects department.)  But it’s as Peter Parker that Garfield earns his thespian money, putting in a strong performance worthy of any good character drama.  He doesn’t lean on irony or smarm; he plays it straight up the middle, and nearly any actor will tell you that playing a realistic human being is hardest thing in the world.  If it weren’t for one small detail, Garfield as Parker/Spidey would easily be this film’s greatest strength… and the “but” attached isn’t a bad thing.

Gwen Stacey.  She doesn’t have a costumed persona to fall back on, but the character of Gwen Stacey stands clearly as the film’s second hero.  She’s the hero of real life: the person we all know who sets us straight, even if that involves some tough lessons.  She’s the person who makes it all make sense.  And, oh yeah, she’s also the person who doesn’t take no for an answer, and who figures out the scientific solutions to first Spider-Man’s equipment issues and then the little problem of saving New York.  She’s not afraid of the bad guys, and though she inevitably ends up as a damsel in distress, she never fits that mold.  And like her co-star Andrew Garfield, Emma Stone knocks this one out of the park.  She owns the screen whenever she’s on it, and takes her character to the next level.  If only the script… well, never mind that.  Can’t give away everything.

Peter and Gwen.  And then we have Peter and Gwen together, which is a phenomenon unto itself.  Andrew Garfield and Emma Stone have outstanding chemistry of a sort that one just doesn’t see in comic book flicks; they click in a natural way that begs for the pair to meet again in a drama or – dare I say it – a romantic comedy.  (Tom and Meg who?)  These two are magic together, and that’s that.  The best moments of The Amazing Spider-Man 2 revolve around the interactions or Peter and Gwen, with, alas, constant interruptions from the next three persons of note.

Electro.  Oscar winner Jamie Foxx as one of Spider-Man’s signature villains: what could possibly go wrong?  The answer is: everything that isn’t Jamie Foxx’s fault.  He does what he can with the part that’s written, but the part is written terribly.  The character’s motivation?  He has no friends.  That’s it.  He feels ignored and just wants a hug.  One hug, and maybe there’d be no bad guy here.  In the real world, that would honestly be sad, but for a comic book supervillain in a movie, that’s just pathetic, and there is way too much time spent illustrating that pathos.  (There’s also a snippet thrown in stating that he really designed the New York power grid, but put to any test of logic, that makes no sense, especially the part about him being alive for this movie at all.)  In terms of action, sure, he puts on a light show, and it’s not goofy/stupid like the one from Hulk, but it’s not satisfying, either.

Harry Osborn/Green Goblin.  Now this is the guy who should have been the one and only villain for The Amazing Spider-Man 2.  His backstory is solid and iconic to the franchise, and makes for a logical follow-up to what audiences saw in the first film.  (I can’t help but wonder if Sam Raimi’s inaugural Spider-Man effort scared the studio into reaching for more to avoid accusations of cloning; if so, that’s just another reason to hate that incarnation of the franchise.)  Dane DeHaan is an effective Harry Osborn (despite being saddled with the world’s worst haircut; acting past that hair is a notable triumph), and he might even have potential as Green Goblin… if only the audience got to see Green Goblin for more than a few quick minutes.  What a massive waste of potential for a character who should have been this flick’s dark side focus.

Alexsei Syestevich/Rhino.  What is he even doing here?  Alexsei is a throwaway opener for the movie, and that’s fair enough (if a waste of Paul Giamatti’s talents), but Rhino is a complete waste of time who serves only the most dubious of dual purposes, both of which result in The Amazing-Spider Man 2 being way longer than it should be.  The fact that Rhino looks suspiciously like a Dinobot doesn’t do that superfluous guy any favors, either.  There’s no other way to slice it: waste, waste, waste.

The Forthcoming Sinister Six.  The standalone villain flick has already been agreed to, and from the looks dropped here thanks to even more wasted time… they’re all Transformers.  Please don’t give it to Michael Bay.

Captain Stacey.  This ghost gets old the first time he appears, but dead Denis Leary never lets go.  He just keeps… coming… back…

Aunt May.  Just because I wanted to end the list on a high note, because Sally Field is Sally Field and Sally Field is awesome.

There; I think that’s enough to give you a picture without spoiling absolutely everything.  Besides, the more time I spend thinking about The Amazing Spider-Man 2, the worse it gets, so it seems like a good idea to stop thinking about it while the movie’s still slightly ahead.  And if that doesn’t paint a picture…

Bottom line, The Amazing Spider-Man 2 could have been a great sequel, but there’s just too much undercooked stuff tossed into the mix, including all of the villains.  Eye candy junkies can probably justify the big screen for the larger than life stereoscope experience, but it’s hollow for all that, and really, the half-baked stew that’s left looks a lot like “wait for a streaming service” material.

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- Reviewed by Ziggy Berkeley, May, 2014

You can email Ziggy at ziggy@cinemaontherocks.com. You can also find us on Facebook.


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