Friday, May 2, 2014


THE AMAZING SPIDER-MAN 2 is less of a sequel to its 2012 predecessor as much as it is a continuation; a continuation of the many loose web-threads which were never resolved but made for a promise for another film. In addition to wrapping up old business started two years ago, director Marc Webb and his friends also make an attempt to bring about new business for their web-slinging hero to juggle. Having many balls in the air is part of the charm, and part of the downfall of THE AMAZING SPIDER-MAN 2.
Peter Parker/Spider-Man (Andrew Garfield) continues to protect the city from crime and danger while trying to keep his relationship together with his girlfriend Gwen Stacy (Emma Stone), and his identity as a superhero away from his Aunt May (Sally Field). Meanwhile, Max (Jamie Foxx) accidently gets turned into an electricity-throwing villain, and then falls into the employ of Harry Osborn (Dane DeHaan), a young CEO of Oscorp; a company with dark secrets…including a tie to Peter’s long-missing parents.

THE AMAZING SPIDER-MAN 2 starts off strong, as Peter struggles with his search for his parents while struggling with his on-again, off-again relationship with Gwen. The stage is set for a decent character piece, but from there things get complicated. What seems like a thousand plots start to roll in from all directions; the mystery behind Peter’s parents, his cat-and-mouse games with Aunt May, origin stories for three different villains, Oscorp’s sinister secrets, and Aunt May’s struggle through life without her slain husband, Peter’s Uncle Ben (reprised briefly by Martin Sheen). There is so much plot going in the film that there is an overall lack of focus, and when a film tries to be about too many things, it ultimately becomes a film about nothing. Characters get completely lost in all the goings-on which takes away the heartbeat, and it doesn’t take long to realize that there isn’t much fun to be had.
Director Marc Webb often shows has that he has a great talent for telling a love story by letting characters react to each other; the intimate scenes between Peter, Gwen, and Aunt May are brilliant and pleasant to sit through. But the good work Webb does gets overshadowed by his shortcomings as an action director. While there are a few fun and crowd-pleasing set-pieces, Webb seems to rely way too much on the visual effects to do the work for him, and for the most part there isn’t much creativity behind all the cartoonish super-powered fights, and this makes for a very hollow film. On top of that, Webb commits deadly sins all around in basic storytelling technique. Characters talk way too goddamn much in weak attempts to let the audience know what is going on, friendships form out of the blue, the villains turn from good guys to bad guys in the wink of an eye, and worse of all…the many characters are powerless against the many plotlines; there is nothing they can do to change any outcome. As a result, there is very little to cheer for.

Andrew Garfield is terrific and lights up the screen every time he is in the suit or shares time with Emma Stone. Sally Field is her usual brilliant self, but she seems more Sally than she does May. Jamie Foxx is nothing more than a huge slice of cheese, while Dane DeHaan fares a little better…or at least until he takes his evil turn and turns into a Saturday morning cartoon. Paul Giamatti and Chris Cooper show up for worthless cameos and are too one-note to make any sort of impression.
The film doesn’t show any sort of power until towards the end, but at that point it’s much too late to care as the film feels much longer than its two hour, twenty-minute running time. The most aggravating sin that THE AMAZING SPIDER-MAN 2 commits is that it seems to exist for the sole purpose of setting up another film. While that technique has worked for many franchises in the past, this film does so at the expense of the work at hand. There is no purpose to the AMAZING SPIDER-MAN 2 other than to sucker people back for a third outing with a promise to answer even more mysteries. This is as far from true cinema as you can get.


No comments:

Post a Comment

A few rules:
1. Personal attacks not tolerated.
2. Haters welcome, if you can justify it.
3. Swearing is goddamn OK.