Not So Amazing After All
A Film Review by Akash Singh
NOTE: SPOILERS OCCUR!!!!!!!
One of the most unfortunately ironically titled films of the year, the second installment in the unnecessary reboot of The Amazing Spider-Man series is awful. Right off the bat the film tries to convince you that its protagonists just graduated from high school, whereupon it’s clearly obvious that the actors are approaching the age of thirty. It perhaps can come off across as a petty quibble, but it is representative of how utterly careless this entire enterprise is. The script, clobbered together by multiple writers who clearly seemed to think they were each working on a separate film, is so all over the place it’s as if you’re watching several sequels at once. It’s really a shame, because there are specific scenes within the film that are amongst the most poignant and emotionally stirring of the entire year. There’s decent character work on hand and it’s largely squandered in favor of ballistic action sequences because, well, summer blockbuster.
The capital sin of the film can be attributed primarily due to its desire to stuff itself so much that the lid inevitably pops and everything just goes to hell. For a film that’s unsure whether or not it’s going to get an audience, it would make some sense perhaps for it try to place as many appealing pathways into a singular unit as possible. For the second film in a franchise that is guaranteed to make a profit of several million to go this route is simply bemusing. The opening in and of itself is overcomplicated (not in an intellectually challenging manner, I assure you), wrought with an extreme desire to be thrilling but rarely succeeding in being so. The film transitions into the modern day, when Peter Parker and Gwen Stacy ought to be graduating from college but according to the film are still teenagers. Inherent logical flaws are prevalent here in the simplest of scenes so when they rear their ugly head when the villains kick in, it’s less of a surprise and more of a simple resignation.
Jamie Foxx’s Electro is probably the most offensive of the three villains. It’s not as if he doesn’t get the screen time (Paul Giamatti might have the greatest gripe on that account), but he is simply miscast. For one thing, his pre-villainous character is riddled with tropes belonging to someone who is stereotypically awkward, such as large glasses and exaggerated physical features, none of which sound like a fit for Foxx. Then his face is markedly hidden behind a dark shroud from whereupon he enjoys shooting people with Force lightning. It’s a bizarre choice that reminds me of Tom Hardy as Bane in the final chapter of Christopher Nolan’s Dark Knight trilogy. There at least (despite a massively wasted third act) is enough material for Hardy to act enough from his eyes. Foxx gets nothing to do here and when villains number two and three get into the picture, you’re already so lost that it just doesn’t matter. That’s a significant problem considering what happened at the end, which should be cathartic and moving but ultimately it’s more surprising than anything else.
There are some bright spots in this film that are so well-done that it’s ultimately a shame they weren’t a part of something better. As with the original, Andrew Garfield and Emma Stone are perfectly cast. Their chemistry remains as strong as ever and doggone if they don’t do their absolute best to salvage the dialogue thrown their way. Sally Fields is awesome in basically everything and she provides the emotional crux the film so needed. There’s a quiet scene where Peter asks her about his father and was genuinely touched, the only moment when the film legitimately got to me. It’s indicative of when the writing truly works and it becomes one of the few moments where it genuinely feels like the writers know their own characters. Some of the action sequences are well-done, but then the film just tries to do far too much within the timeframe by sacrificing character for the sake of action, which oddly just causes it to feel a lot longer than it truly is. The Average Spider-Man 2 would have been a better title.
Title: The Amazing Spider-Man 2
MPAA Rating: PG-13
Directed by: Marc Webb
Produced by: Avi Arad, Matt Tolmach
Screenplay by: Alex Kurtzman, Roberto Orci, Jeff Pinkner
Story by: Alex Kurtzman, Roberto Orci, Jeff Pinkner, James Vanderbilt
Based On: The Amazing Spider-Man by Stan Lee, Steve Ditko
Starring: Andrew Garfield, Emma Stone, Jamie Foxx, Dane DeHaan, Campbell Scott, Embeth Davidtz, Colm Feore, Paul Giamatti, Sally Field
Music: Hans Zimmer & The Magnificent Six
Cinematography: Dan Mindel
Editing: Pietro Scalia
Production Company: Sony Pictures Entertainment, Marvel Entertainment, Arad Productions, Inc., Matt Tolmach Productions
Distributor: Columbia Pictures
Running Time: 142 minutes
Release Dates: April 10, 2014 (London premiere), May 2, 2014 (United States)
Image Courtesy: Belief Net