The Amazing Spider-Man 2: a worthwhile sequel?

Amazing-spider-man-2-poster

Well, here we are—just one month after the release of the fantastic Captain America: The Winter Soldier, Marvel is at it again with everybody’s favorite Webhead, Spider-Man. Forgive me for the abundance of superhero film reviews lately—there’ll be one more coming (X-Men: Days of Future Past) and then there ought to be a break from them. Until Guardians of the Galaxy in August, anyway. And the dozens of superhero films that follow. But whatever.

I’ve been looking forward to this one for a while but reservedly so. With three villains, I assumed that the film would have a lot going on—maybe even too much. But I was fond of the first Amazing Spider-Man. I liked Andrew Garfield in the title role, I liked Emma Stone as love interest Gwen Stacey, and I was ready to like just about anything else in it after the unforgivably bad Spider-Man 3. But I steeled myself before walking into the theater for ASM 2 because I’d seen a lot of lackluster reviews. Not negative, per se, but they didn’t praise the film as much as I’d hoped. Now that I’ve seen it, I can say that I seem to have liked it more than most, but I can see why people aren’t super excited about it.

Synopsis: “Peter Parker runs the gauntlet as the mysterious company Oscorp sends up a slew of supervillains against him, impacting on his life.” Borrowed from my favorite movie site, IMDb.

amazing spider man 2 1

The Good: Andrew freaking Garfield. I can almost hear Eric and Brian booing me right now (we had a bit of a debate on Twitter about the better Spidey, and they picked Tobey Maguire…read the details here), but I love the guy. He has chemistry with everyone he comes into contact with (esp. Stone as Gwen, Sally Field as Aunt May, and Dane DeHaan as Harry Osborn), he does a great job with all of the wisecracks, he’s easy on the eyes, and his crying will BREAK YOUR HEART. I mean, I don’t want to ruin anything, but poor Peter goes through some stuff in this film, and there’s a particular scene where he’s so heartbroken that I wanted to cry. I don’t cry in movies, people, but I ached for Spidey, and I think that’s a credit to Garfield’s performance. Stone is great again as clever, funny Gwen, who isn’t afraid to tell Peter what’s what or put herself in the line of fire. I continue to adore Field as sweet, spunky Aunt May, and it’s nice to see her relationship with Peter developed some more. But DeHaan is the best surprise of the film. ASM 2 is the first I’ve seen of him, and now I’m very curious to see him in other roles. A likeable smartass with a hint of vulnerability and a little too much intensity behind those seriously beautiful, piercing eyes, DeHaan’s Harry is vastly different from James Franco’s version, who always seemed a little bland and underdeveloped (sorry, Franco). I’m interested to see how they’re going to use the character in the next film(s). Aside from the performances, I will say that the film’s effects are generally very cool, it has a nice blend of comedy and drama, and the story is more balanced than I was expecting. Personally, I think it’s all a fair bit of fun.

Favorite scene: Gwen has to slip out of Oscorp unnoticed, and Peter distracts her pursuers in a very hilarious way. Ah, the perks of dating Spider-Man.

amazing spider man 2 2

The Bad: Though it’s not near the distasteful level of Spider-Man 3, there’s some serious cheesiness going on in this film. Unfortunately, a lot of that can be directly tied to the amped up humor. I don’t read comic books, but I think the problem is that the writers are trying to use comic-y quotes in a live-action film, which often comes off as straight-up corny. I thought this particularly toward the beginning of the film when Spidey tackles the severely miscast Rhino (I mean, Paul Giamatti??) while cracking jokes. The film is trying so hard to create that comic book atmosphere, but it doesn’t always work. Rhino aside, my biggest character qualm is actually the most important villain in the film: Electro (Jamie Foxx). Not only does Foxx seem like the wrong choice for the role, but the character as a whole feels forced and flat. His extreme nerdiness, his obsession with Spider-Man, his abrupt shift to power-hungry maniac—none of it is believable. I believe good villains either have to have some degree of vulnerability to make them relatable (i.e. Tom Hiddleston’s Loki) or they have to be so stone-cold crazy and/or badass that they are fascinating (i.e. Heath Ledger’s Joker). Electro is not any of this. The villains are somewhat elevated by Harry, who has the vulnerability thing going for him, but, unfortunately, I find him less interesting when he transforms into Green Goblin. I kind of wish he hadn’t become Green Goblin at all in this film. Can’t we spend more time getting to know Harry? For that matter, can’t we have more Harry/Peter bro time? They get one great scene, and then pretty much zilch. What a waste. The film as a whole feels jam-packed and rushed. Plus, the dialogue is sometimes stiff, which is one of my biggest pet peeves.

Least favorite scene: At one point, a small, idiotic child breaks free from his mother’s grasp to stand between a powerful villain and terrified onlookers. I get it—the kid is supposed to be brave or whatever, but COME ON. Waaaaay too corny and supremely stupid. Spidey complimented him. Personally, I would’ve told the kid’s mother to institutionalize him.

To Sum It Up: In the hands of less capable actors, ASM 2 could’ve been bland, but Garfield, Stone, DeHaan, and Field save the day with solid performances. Yes, the humor is sometimes a bit forced, but there are still plenty of genuinely funny moments plus lots of action and nice touches of drama. In regards to the plot, “less is more” comes to mind, but the story is better than you might think. I’d say this film is level with its predecessor—maybe slightly better. If you liked the first one, it’s worth a matinee showing.

My Grade: B+

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60 thoughts on “The Amazing Spider-Man 2: a worthwhile sequel?

  1. Nice review. I didn’t like ASM1, but I quite enjoyed this one. I loved the chemistry and the humor, but it was the plot that I find to be a huge improvement. Reptile Dr Curt Connors was just sci-fi overkill for me tbh. I liked seeing Electro and those visual effects were really good.

  2. Great review! And thanks for the link to the big debate! (Garfield currently in the lead with 75% of the vote). ; ) Agree with all you’ve said! WAY too little time on the Peter/Harry relationship & the villains as a whole were the weakest thing about the film. In total agreement with you & Zoe on this one. Girls rule! ; ) Have you really not seen DeHaan in anything else?? Wow. I recommend both Chronicle & The Place Beyond The Pines. : )

    • Aww the first one wasn’t a debacle!! Here we go disagreeing again…Lol. I will admit to being a bit of a fan of Spidey. A fanGIRL, thank you very much. 😉

  3. Great review. I loved the film and thought the new lighter more comic book feel of the film made Spider-man finally feel like Spider-man.

    Very much looking forward to the next one, BRING ON SINISTER SIX! 😀

        • Ooooh cool! I’d be interested to see who they picked as Black Cat! I’m kinda hoping they recast Rhino though. Paul Giamatti is so…random. Lol.

        • Ohhhh yeah. Completely forgot about that. Shows how much of an impression she made! Lol. Here’s hoping she gets a bit more attention in the next film!

        • I actually think they did that on purpose. Felicia Hardy is very timid and shy. But as Black Cat she is confident and bold.

          I always found their flirty relationship very interesting because they’re very similar. Two sides of the same coin.

          Kind of hope they do something with her before they go into another serious relationship with MJ. If they went into the MJ relationship straight after Gwent death I think it would be too soon, but a little rebound flirty thing with Black Cat would be interesting to see on film.

          What do you think? Woman’s prespective 🙂

        • Yeah I agree–another serious relationship so soon would be kind of lame, cheapening what he had with Gwen. Plus, I want to learn about Black Cat, so I’d love to see the lens focused a bit more on her. I just hope they can make MJ more interesting than she was in the first three Spider-Man films. Kirsten Dunst didn’t exactly shine in the role. Lol.

  4. Yes! More DeHaan, more Green Goblin, less Electro please! We’re on the same wavelength in just about every area here. It’s fun, the actors are great, but the story is overloaded. Great review Cara!

    • LOL! I think that’s the first time I’ve ever heard Franco described as a “damp squid!” Sadly, it is an appropriate description. Why am I not surprised the description came from you? 😉

  5. I had a great time with this and liked it a lot more than the first. However, I do admit that it’s very messy and has way too much going on when it shouldn’t. Good review Cara.

  6. Great review I really liked your breakdown on this. I’ve heard mixed reviews about Jamie Foxx, so I am not surprised you didn’t like him in this, perhaps this is his way of trying to break into the action world. No prob with posting the superhero reviews, I seem to not watch as many of these, so I look forward to learning about them through you guys. Garfield and Maguire oh boy that debate I think is still going on. At this point I wont take a side but Garfield is definitely a cutie pie. Emma is such a cute choice for Gwen. 🙂

  7. cant wait to see this. didn’t read your review cause didn’t want anything to be spoiled, but I’m sure it’s great as always!

    Keep up the excellent work!

  8. Great review Cara. Wonder if they will act alongside each other again. Sounds like Garfield and Stone are a cute real life couple and have real chemistry on screen.

  9. Nice review. You liked this one a bit more than me. I had some issues with the number of villains and plot strands – I think Electro could have been a great character if he had been given more space to develop. Loved the performances though 🙂

    • Yeah it would’ve been better if Electro had been more developed, and there definitely shouldn’t have been so much going on…but it was fun!! Haha. The performances are the best part for sure!

  10. I’m not gonna see this until VOD. Did you (do you) watch SNL the other day? There was a pretty funny skit with Garfield and Stone (and the Coldplay singer).

  11. “Andrew freaking Garfield” – so much yes here. Yes. Yes. Boos or not, he is the answer.

    The first film you have seen with DeHaan?! You HAVE to remedy that immediately! He was like the biggest reason that I went to see this in cinema, LOVE the guy! I want to hear more as you progress with some of his work!

    I wish they had saved Harry’s Goblin for later too though!

    • I knew I could count on you for some backup on Garfield. 😉 Yeah, he’s awesome in it. And so is DeHaan! Chronicle is officially on my list, so I’ll try to watch it soon! Goblin was definitely a little rushed. Here’s hoping they strengthen his character for the next Spidey film!

      • 🙂 Naturally! Where else would I be? You should also check out The Place Beyond The Pines and Lawless, another two excellent ones from him. He is awesome. They better work on him and bring him back, he is an amazing Harry!

        • Yeah those are two I’ve been meaning to check out! I’ve heard good things. I’m sure he will continue being an awesome Harry–now we just need to work on Green Goblin. Lol.

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