The Amazing Spider-Man isn’t a good movie. It’s sloppy, has a half-baked villain, and, for a huge blockbuster picture, it lacks scope and style. In fact, a lot of Sam Raimi’s Spider-Man movies feel more modern and photo-realistic than what director Marc Webb has done so far. With every sequel you hope lessons will be learned from whatever past mistakes. Sometimes a series needs to go through a learning curve before getting to the goods.
Sadly, that’s not the case with The Amazing Spider-Man 2.
Webb has managed to make an even worse film. While this sequel is more polished, its script is disastrous in parts. It’s easily the most frustrating movie Roberto Orci and Alex Kurtzman (and co-writer Jeff Pinkner) have ever written. The wildly varying tone, the cheap character motivations and poor plotting all scream Joel Schumacher. It has some things going for it, most of which are overshadowed by all the glaring issues.
Spoilers included, here are 10 things I didn’t like about The Amazing Spider-Man 2 and 5 things I did.
Things I Didn’t Liked
10. We’re Always 20 Steps Ahead of Peter
The Richard Parker opening is problematic for many reasons, but the most important reason why it doesn’t work is because it makes us sit through Richard’s explanation to Peter twice. The second time we see that video, when Peter finds that rather silly underground hideout, we have to watch it again in its entirety. Why put the audience so far ahead of the protagonist? It’s a dramatic discovery for him, but not for us.
9. Wanna See A Dead Kid?
What’s more moving than Spider-Man saving an inspired kid before he’s shot up by a Russian Paul Giamatti in a metallic Rhino suit? There’s something a little uncomfortable about attempting to make that idea an inspiring moment. It’d be fine if the villain weren’t jokingly threatening the kid’s life, but that kid walks into that situation in such a contrived way.
Really? That’s how it happened? Nobody could’ve managed to grab him? The cops might’ve well as told the kid’s mom, “Sorry, ma’m, not our problem.” It’s a laughably corny and manipulative scene, but more than that, imagine in real life if a kid got inspired by Spider-Man and put himself in harm’s way. Would you call that moving?
8. Go Away, Richard Parker
“The Untold story” remains a rather uninteresting story. Anyone who watches The Amazing Spider-Man probably isn’t left dying to know what the deal is with Peter’s parents. That sloppy loose thread from the first movie is paid off here with a thudding result. Why can’t Spider-Man just be a kid who became Spider-Man by chance? Isn’t that a part of the character’s appeal? He was a kid who realized he had this power, and knew he had to do something important with it. Here, he’s a chosen one, not an average kid from New York. And as far as existential crises go, isn’t Uncle Ben enough?
7. Airplane 3: Shirley You Can’t Be Serious
The threat of two airplanes colliding into each other is redundant. The stakes are already high, so why include this nonessential device to up the ante? We already know New York, and maybe the world, is in peril. In addition to that, who wants to see a bunch of cutaways to characters we don’t know during the final battle? It’s like the ferry boat subplot in The Dark Knight. We want to watch Batman and the Joker, not a bunch of extras. Then again, Spider-Man and Electro’s dynamic doesn’t match what Nolan did with those two adversaries, so maybe watching extras instead isn’t such a bad idea…
6. The Final 10 Minutes
This movie couldn’t even manage to tell one story right, so of course it’s cocky enough to start setting up future installments. When Raimi made Spider-Man and Spider-Man 2 he focused on the one story at hand. They were cleanly told films that stood on their own. They saved the major set ups for the sequel for the sequel, which is pretty much what “act one” is meant for.
5. So Many Actors Wasted
Felicity Jones, B.J. Novak, Sarah Gadon, Chris Cooper and Paul Giamatti…all wasted. Yeah, Jones and Giamatti will reappear in sequels, but it’s a shame watching such good actors not getting the time of day in this movie.
4. Peter Is Kind Of A Dick
Peter Parker is immensely unlikable. The last film ends with him breaking a major promise. While The Amazing Spider-Man 2 deconstructs that decision, it still left the character on a smugly agitating note in the first movie. What kind of person would leave the first movie and think, “I can’t wait to see another movie about this kid who just lied to a dying man. What a hero.” Here, Gwen Stacey may be going to Oxford. Her hard work has paid off, so good for her, right?
Wrong. Peter doesn’t even congratulate her once. When he comes around on Oxford, it’s because he says he’ll go with her to London, not because he’s really proud she’s been accepted into one of the best colleges in the world. What kind of person doesn’t even put on a fake happy face for a few seconds?
3. Oogly Eyes
Andrew Garfield and Emma Stone have real chemistry in the first movie. This time around chemistry has been confused for having two actors consistently making oogly eyes at each other. Gwen and Peter rarely have genuine conversations. Their relationship is based around endless banter, to the point where someone should really tell Peter to shut up. Is it adorable when Peter doesn’t keep quiet when Gwen is going into her interview for Oxford? He can’t act serious for one minute? Is he that in love with his own jokes? Wisecracking Spider-Man is great, but narcissistic Peter Parker is not.
2. A Flat Out Terrible Villain
Electro should’ve never made it past the first draft. In the film’s current state Max Dillion easily could be chopped out of the first half of it. Structurally, he’s not pivotal until the third act. Thematically, he shares little in common with the major themes at hand. Dramatically, Dillion is entirely problematic. He’s a nutbag from the start of the film, so there’s no compelling arc when it comes to Dillion turning into the attention-seeking Electro. It’s hard to empathize with a character whose motivations are so unbelievably comical, dull, and ripped straight out of Batman Forever.
1. Isn’t Harry Osborn Enough?
Because of Max Dillion, Harry Osborn suffers. While enduring Dillion whisper nonsense to himself, we could’ve spent that time watching Osborn dealing with a loss and reconnecting with Peter. More time with Harry would’ve meant more payoff for his turn to evil. Why can’t this movie just tell one story? Harry has a thematic connection to Peter, which, admittedly, the film is on-the-nose about, so why muck it up with Max? Harry’s story is enough for one movie.
Things I Liked
5. Chris Cooper Got A Fat Check
Norman Osborn wisely decided to spend his final day telling his son Harry he’s a disappointment and that he’s going to die just like him. Funnily enough, that disease begins eating at Harry awfully quick after his father’s death. This is another convenience in a movie built around conveniences, with all roads leading to Oscorp, of course. On the bright side, Chris Cooper got a nice check for a few days work. Cooper is one of the greatest actors alive, so good for him landing a gig in a large franchise.
4. Russian Paul Giamatti
Paul Giamatti is acting in a much better movie than Jamie Foxx is. Giamatti is the right kind of hammy. While Electro is a total mope, Giamatti knows this is a Spider-Man movie, so it needs some degree of fun. Too bad he’s only in the film for a few minutes.
3. Spidey Action
It would’ve been a terrific way to begin a film with that shot of Spider-Man falling from the sky before swinging into action. Very little is photo-real in the first film. As cartoony as this sequel gets, there’s a tangibility to some of it, especially in the opening set piece. Webb has definitely grown as an effects-heavy filmmaker. Unlike Webb’s last go at the character, this looks like an actual movie.
2. Emma Stone Doesn’t Have To Play Gwen Stacey Anymore
These movies desperately try to match Stone’s charisma, and both films haven’t come close to doing so. Now, thankfully, Stone can find material that’ll meet her halfway. She’s a good actor that has range beyond the easygoing presence she keeps getting hired for. She’s in Cameron Crowe’s new film coming out this Christmas, and since Crowe pretty much always gets new and surprising performances out of actors, she’ll definitely have the chance to flex some new muscles there.
1. Dane DeHaan Is Magnetic
“You’re a fraud, Spider-Man!” is not an easy line to pull off. The script is riddled with clunky dialogue, most of which coming out of Jamie Foxx’s mouth, but DeHaan is a good enough of an actor to infuse some life into this script. He even manages to give a really fun performance despite playing a thinly drawn character. DeHaan really shines when Harry turns into the Green Goblin. He gets across how painful that transformation is, making it a real body horror moment. A great actor can transcend bad material, and DeHaan does just that here.
What did you think of The Amazing Spider-Man 2?