Friday, July 7, 2017

Movie Review: "The Amazing Spider-Man 2" (2014)

Director: Marc Webb
Year: 2014
Rating: PG-13
Running Time: 2 hours, 22 minutes

Spider-Man struggles to balance his relationship with Gwen Stacy with his crime fighting ways. Meanwhile, some new villains emerge looking for a fight with Spidey.

"The Amazing Spider-Man 2" is once again directed by Marc Webb. Andrew Garfield returns as Spider-Man, who is still doing what he can to keep New York City safe. All of this crime fighting has made life much more difficult for Spider-Man's alter ego, Peter Parker, who is just about to graduate from high school, and is trying to maintain a relationship with his girlfriend Gwen Stacy, played again by Emma Stone. Peter also must deal with the guilt and strain from the death of Gwen's father (*~he's so tortured*~), and is also trying to reconcile his own past in order to find out why his parents left him with his Aunt May, played by Sally Field, and Uncle Ben (again, ~*supes tortured~*). Of course, Peter has to do this while duking it out with the people committing crimes in the city, in particular, a new super-villain, a very lonely man by the name of Max Dillon, played by Jamie Foxx, who Spider-Man once saved. To Max, a man who never gets notices, this meant Spider-Man was like his best friend, which sadly isn't far from the truth. After an industrial accident at Oscorp (the place where all super-powered beings are created), Max is transformed into someone who is essentially made of pure electricity. He calls himself Electro because of course he does. Electro is not the only villain in the sequel, because as we learned from "Spider-Man 3," there can never be to many villains. Peter's childhood friend Harry Osborn, played by Dane Dehaan, returns to inherit Oscorp after his father Norman Osborn, played Chris Cooper, passes away from a rare genetic disease. On his deathbed, Norman tells Harry that he too will suffer from the same genetic condition. Harry believes Spider-Man, specifically his blood, is the key to curing it, and when Spider-Man cannot help him, he becomes the Green Goblin and enlists Electro to help him get revenge.

The same problems we had in "The Amazing Spider-Man" unfortunately apply to this sequel. Andrew Garfield remains somewhat annoying as Peter Parker, and while there are lots of people who say they prefer him to Tobey Maguire, we don't. He seems to have doubled down on his angst and is still far too brooding for our liking, due to instructions he received behind the scenes, we presume. The writers make him oh so tortured (as we mentioned above), so much so that he listens Philip Phillips while pining over Gwen Stacy and trying to figure out what happened to his parents with a cliched wall full of pictures, notes, and clues. When Garfield is in the Spidey suit, he's all good. He is funny, likable, charismatic, and showy, just what Spider-Man begs to be, but when he's out of it, he just oozes douchiness.

The biggest downfall of "The Amazing Spider-Man 2" is the side story about Peter's relationship issues with Gwen Stacy. It gets tiresome really fast as the "will they, won't they" scenario is repeated at least twice within the first hour of the movie. We begin to feel like Peter's kind of making something out of nothing. Instead of owning up to the part he played in Gwen's father's death, his instinct is to run. What kind of superhero does that? Plus, don't you think Gwen Stacy is old enough to make up her own damn decisions and not be at the mercy of her crime-fighting boyfriend every five minutes when he changes his mind about whether or not he wants to be with her?

Jamie Foxx as Max Dillon is a very sympathetic character, though extremely delusional. We think Foxx plays the part well, and while we don't hate his performance as much as some clearly do, it does get a little overly dramatic at times. Many of his lines are way, way too cheesy. For example, it's as if the writers wrote in a plot point about how it was Max's birthday in the movie specifically to have him say the line "time for me to light my birthday candles!" UGH. SO LAME. It's good to have a multi-layered villain like Max Dillon, someone who's not plain ol' evil and is not searching for power or money. He's simply very misunderstood and wants people to like him, and we can identify with him as a character. On the other hand, Harry Osborn, while also multi-layered, has the same sympathetic start, but ultimately acts out in revenge and hatred. Dane DeHaan has a vicious looking face that's fitting for this role, so much so that we think he should play the Joker at some point. Though he also gives a good performances, his place in this sequel is absolutely superfluous, but then again, the multiple villain thing is entirely unnecessary. Though the primary focus of this film is on Electro, eventually the Green Goblin enters the picture with a brief cameo from Rhino, who gets thrown into the mix for a tacked on good measure. The special effects on these characters, and really the movie as a whole, are pretty solid, but as with all of the Spider-Man movies of the past, there are times when you can tell things are blatantly CGIed.

"The Amazing Spider-Man 2" feels all over the place at times, unbalanced and bloated with people, plot points, and problems. From an acting and technical standpoint, this is a sound sequel, but it sacrifices cohesion and proper storytelling in favor of flashiness and pomp. The last 15-20 minutes do redeem it a lot, and we love the way the entire thing ends, but a couple of scenes of proper emotion aren't enough to make this a comic book movie we can truly recommend without reservation.

My Rating: 5/10
BigJ's Rating: 5/10
IMDB's Rating: 6.7/10
Rotten Tomatoes Rating: 52%
Do we recommend this movie: Meh.

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