By Christian DiMartino
I attended the 11 p.m. showing of The Amazing Spider-Man 2 last Thursday night, and had planned on writing the review the next morning. Much to my surprise, things didn’t quite happen like that. Once the movie was over, my friend and I exited the theater and then discussed how mixed we were on the movie for an entire hour. Days have gone by since then, and The Amazing Spider-Man 2 still has me so torn, it has taken me this long to express myself.
This is the first big blockbuster of the summer, and one of the most highly anticipated, but even I had some doubts. As a non-Jamie Foxx fan, his casting seemed off. That wasn’t the only concern, but it was the main one. So once the negative reviews arrived, my doubts deepened.
Marc Webb’s The Amazing Spider-Man, as wonderfully surprising as it was, was unnecessary, mainly because the studio only waited five years to reboot Sam Rami’s Spider-Man movies (I personally would like to see those continued, but, whatever). As unnecessary as it may have been, it actually turned out to be the second best Spider-Man adventure, ranking behind Rami’s perfect Spider-Man 2 (sue me, I don’t care, it’s amazing). What brought the movie to life was the chemistry between Peter Parker/ Spider-Man and Gwen Stacy (on and off-screen couple Andrew Garfield and Emma Stone). They worked so well together that I was tempted to hug myself. Webb, who’s only other non-Spider-Man movie is 500 Days of Summer, knows what he is doing when it comes to the romance. Also, Garfield is perfect in the title role; a worthy replacement for Tobey Maguire.
Now, Webb returns with the sequel, and Stone and Garfield are as charming as ever. In fact, they just might be the greatest comic book couple of them all. It’s a bold statement, but a true one. The visual effects are spectacular and the entertainment value is high. Also, there are some strong moments here. There were times when I let the action carry me away, and these times were reminiscent of the other movies. But yet, there were a few short time periods where the movie was so bad that I felt like my soul was being shanked.
The sequel picks up some time after the original (original isn’t exactly appropriate but that’s beside the point). Peter Parker is still trying to fight crime, while protecting the ones he loves. Peter and Gwen are still dating, which leaves him with a guilty conscience. If you remember from the previous movie, Peter promised Gwen’s late father (Denis Leary) that he would avoid her at all costs. He doesn’t do that, until he begins seeing Captain Stacy everywhere. He is also still trying to figure out what exactly happened to his parents and how they were involved with the sinister Oscorp company.
If that wasn’t bad enough, just wait. Enter Max Dillon (Jamie Foxx), a grown-up Steve Erkel who becomes obsessed with Spider-Man after he rescues him. Dillon, an Oscorp employee, soon falls into an eel tank, gets stung a lot (duh), and becomes Electro. Judging from that last sentence, I wonder how Oscorp is still a running company. It clearly isn’t a safe work environment. Anyways, Electro, who can manipulate electricity, is pretty cool and one of the movies many visual marvels, but his motives for killing Spider-Man (Spider-Man doesn’t remember him) are weak.
Then, enter Harry Osbourne (Dane Dehaan), Peter’s childhood friend and son of Oscorp founder Norman Osbourne (Chris Cooper), who carries a very distracting Hitler haircut. Seriously, that haircut drove me crazy. When Harry becomes terminally ill, he believes that Spider-Man’s blood can save his life. So, let’s just say, he wants Spidey dead too. Harry certainly is an interesting character, but had Dehaan done what he did with Chronicle, then the performance would’ve been remarkable. Instead, Harry is just whiny (he has a temper tantrum) and, well, his haircut is obnoxious. I’m not letting it go.
TASM2, like the constantly bashed Spider-Man 3, has a little bit too much story and just a bit too many villains, but it works. Also, the action sequences are a knockout, and Garfield shares some sublime moments with Stone and Sally Field, who plays his Aunt May. While a good amount of it does work, it is kind of a bumpy ride.
The scenes with Dillon talking to himself are awkward and occasionally dumb. In fact, Electro doesn’t become cool until the final hour. Despite this however he is quite the special effect. The soundtrack is bizarre, and the score doesn’t always mesh well with what’s happening on-screen. Spider-Man himself seems a little too jokey this time around. Sometimes, he tries so hard to be funny I’m surprised the crowds of people “oohing” and “awing” didn’t hand him a microphone.
Also, some of the one liners from him and Electro, again, shanked my soul with their stupidity. Not all of them are bad though, just a handful. Not to mention Paul Giamatti’s brief performance as The Rhino is inconceivably dumb. If he is the lead villain in the next round (there’s supposedly two more movies coming out at least), then you may just have to count me out. Giamatti is a great actor, but his accent is too difficult to take seriously. Also, there are a few loose ends that need to be tied up, and some of them probably won’t be in the sequel.
Lastly, the movie would’ve been better had the ending not dragged on. Had the movie stopped at a certain point, then it would have had more of an effective and poignant ending. Instead, the movie wants to get everyone jazzed up for round three, so it sets up the next movie… but not very well.
There is more wrong with The Amazing Spider-Man 2 than right, but yet it still gets my recommendation, I guess. How? Well, its target audience (Spider-Man fans) will go for it. Being one of them, I enjoyed a good amount of it. Yes, it had its ups and downs, but it is still an enjoyable movie to some extent. It’s a close call though; if round three is a similar movie, then expect harsher criticism. Whether we like it or not, more Spider-Man is coming. Hopefully it’s a bit better the next time. The Passable Spider-Man is a more appropriate title.
The movie still has me torn though. Right now, it’s good, borderline okay. Ask me in a month or so and I might say otherwise. As of now though, Spider-Man is getting a pass. Next time, he might not be as lucky.