The Amazing Spider-Man 2 is the unwarranted and unnecessary sequel to 2012’s equally unnecessary and unwarranted The Amazing Spider-Man. It almost goes without saying that this is a staggeringly transparent cash- grab on the part of Sony and to a lesser extent Marvel, but the question is, is it worth your time and money?
The short answer is, absolutely not. The Amazing Spider-Man 2 evokes unavoidable comparisons to the masterstroke of the 2002-2007 trilogy, Spiderman 2, which was unquestionably superior in literally every conceivable fashion. As a matter-of-fact, you’ll often wish – during TASM2’s 140 minute runtime – that you’re watching Spiderman 2. But how can that be? As Buzzfeed like to remind us, Andrew Garfield and Emma Stone are delightful; Dane De Haan is a promising young actor with a striking resemblance to a young Leonardo Di Caprio and Jamie Foxx is an experienced actor playing a potentially strong villain. Behind the camera, director Marc Webb impressed everybody with (500) Days of Summer and a string of well-known music videos, so what could go wrong? The answer, as is often the case in failed blockbusters, is lazy, shitty writing. It will be of no surprise to anyone that screenwriters Roberto Orci and Alex Kurtzman have each had a hand in at least one Transformers movie. But I digress.
TASM2, much like its predecessor, tediously and uncharismatically explores the mystery of what happened to Peter’s parents, while Peter himself unconvincingly gets adjusted to his new life as Spiderman. Typically, there is also an antagonist who pops out of the woodwork courtesy of Oscorp (which surely by now should’ve faced at least some legal scrutiny for becoming a world-leader in the manufacture of supervillains), and Harry Osborn also appears as the harbinger of an inevitable Green Goblin return. This much has surely been made obvious by the trailer.
While this movie has some legitimately impressive action set-pieces, it succeeds only in turning a respectable group of lead actors into scenery-chewing, Saturday-morning-cartoon caricatures. During the film’s non-action scenes, the leads unforgivably adopt ham-fisted pseudo- representations of their real-life personalities – I’m referring in mainly to Andrew Garfield and Emma Stone here. It becomes insipidly clear as the film goes on that their off-screen personality as a “cute celebrity couple” has been allowed to directly influence the writing. Often it feels as if they’ve just been thrown into a scene and told to improvise, and riff off of their natural chemistry. This is cute to watch, but when you suddenly remember that the last scene finished with an argument (or even an official break up at one point) it does make you question how well the writers knew their own screenplay. They chuckle and fawn giddily over each other, in spite of the fact that the narrative demands that they behave otherwise – like real human people would.
Poorly written scenes are not in short supply, and they encapsulate the knuckle-bitingly poor dialogue that mutilates this movie from beginning to end. The dialogue in the original trilogy was far from Shakespeare, but it was firm, utilitarian dialogue that moved the plot along. Here, everything is awkward and confused. It also through this poor scripting and story-telling that it becomes unescapable to realise Peter is in fact, quite obnoxious and douchey in this incarnation of Spiderman. Look at the plot from the villains’ point of view as the film goes along, and you’ll see what I mean.
Ultimately, TASM2 just left me feeling quite sad. The writers’ tendency to open up plot holes the size of craters, and the bizarre shift toward Adam West Batman-style “campy” villains just made everyone seem like a dick who wasn’t worth rooting for. By rebooting the Spiderman franchise this early – and getting a great cast to boot – Sony have made the unspoken promise that they’ve corrected the mistakes that the original trilogy made, and even improved upon its positives. However, they have achieved neither. This series has thus far done everything that the original series did, but slightly worse. Anything new it’s tried to do, it has done poorly, and frankly I feel like a sucker for going to see it.
5 out of 10 stars