Another weekend, another comic book movie. This time it’s Marc Webb’s The Amazing Spider-Man 2 which brings back Andrew Garfield as the friendly neighborhood web-slinging superhero. The Spidey parts of the movie are fantastic, but the rest of it? Well, read my spoiler-free thoughts:
The Amazing Spider-Man 2 succeeds in a few areas. Unexpectedly, it’s a wonderful romance. I’d love to see it edited to solely focus on Peter and Gwen. Garfield and Emma Stone have palpable chemistry and just like in the first movie, their scenes are the definition of adorkable. You root for Peter Parker and Gwen Stacy. You can’t help it. Loving Gwen against the wishes of her father is pivotal to how Peter develops, and sappy as it sounds, their relationship is beautiful and mushy in the best sort of way – the best we’ve seen in a comic book movie.
Speaking of Captain Stacy, the movie dealt with repercussions of his death in The Amazing Spider-Man. You see Peter wrestling with the loss, and it’s important to see those side effects. The film takes care to showcase that loss, as well as how Aunt May is processing her grief over losing Uncle Ben, how Harry Osborn is shaped by the rejection of his father, and how psychological issues drive Max Dillon to become a villain. You get into the heads of characters so deeply that you don’t question their motivations. The film wasn’t all about action, and I like seeing a deeper side.
When the movie did hone in on action, it was impressive. The fights and everyday heroics of Spider-Man are choreographed in such a way that it feels like you’re flying along with Peter. It’s important to see the world from his perspective and oh so refreshing to see a superhero having fun with his abilities. Though the slow-mo admittedly isn’t for everyone, it suits the tone of the story and gives it a panel-to-panel comic book vibe. They do an excellent job of showcasing his powers in a subtle way. This iteration of Spider-Man is my favorite on-screen Spider-Man.
Those three paragraphs make Amazing Spider-Man 2 seem like it was all unicorns and rainbows. Alas, it had more than a couple of problems pulling it under. Mainly? The villains are all over the place. Jamie Foxx’s Electro has too many reasons to become a bad guy, and he came across as goofy. Powerful, yes, but silly. Painfully silly. His dialogue ranged from mediocre to cringe worthy, and his arc felt so off that he may as well have been in a different film. It can’t be simple to translate a character like Electro to the screen, but if that’s the case, maybe go with a different villain? Because it didn’t work.
Electro’s appearances were made worse by the fact that dubstep music was used as his theme. It was a poor choice, and I can’t wrap my head around it. At best, music in films should highlight the performances and make them more memorable. At the worst, it should go unnoticed in the background. In Amazing Spider-Man 2, however, it is noticeable in a horrible way. I would argue dubstep Electro is as bad or worse than the emo Peter Parker scenes in Sam Raimi’s Spider-Man 3.
The Amazing Spider-Man 2 also suffered from a plot that jumped from one arc to another with transitions so bumpy they jolted you out of the film. There was the love story between Peter and Gwen, the struggles of Harry Osborn, the transformation of Electro, the conspiracies at Oscorp, and uncovering the past of Peter’s parents. All of those story lines were woven in, and it was overloaded. Maybe someone other than Marc Webb could have made the film flow better, but it would have been a challenge. Focusing on two of the elements would have been more than enough.
Though I’ve read a smattering of Spider-Man comics, I haven’t digested nearly enough to comment on specific differences. From the stories I have read, it’s apparent Amazing Spider-Man 2 perfectly captured Spider-Man’s sense of humor. Funny Spider-Man, even when he’s dealing with some heavy situations, is the best Spider-Man. He feels friendly and accessible in ways other superheroes don’t.
While I wouldn’t call the entire film amazing, it is enjoyable and entertaining with some standout moments. I’d watch it again, but not until I can do so from the comfort of my couch where I can fast forward through pretty much all the Electro scenes. If you love Spider-Man, I’d recommend seeing The Amazing Spider-Man 2 in theaters just for the webtastic action.