The Amazing Spider-Man 2 - Review

Sony Pictures just won't give up their movie rights to the cash-earning web swinger that easily.
Although actually not too old to truely justify a reboot, Sony Pictures nevertheless rebooted their Spider-Man franchise in 2012 with The Amazing Spider-Man directed by Marc Webb and starring Andrew Garfield in the titular role.
Despite the fact that it boasted several deja-vus regarding Spider-Man's well known origin story, The Amazing Spider-Man nevertheless also had its respectable repertoire of some neat ideas mostly oriented on the more realistic Ultimate Spider-Man comics.
With that said, it all resulted in a mixed bag kind of movie, which had to iron out its share of flaws to let its strengths truely shine through in a possible sequel.
In 2014, this chance has come with The Amazing Spider-Man 2, again directed by Marc Webb.
Featuring a total of three villains, Electro, The Green Goblin and The Rhino, some fans were quite worried of this sequel making the very same mistakes as Sam Raimi's failure, which was Spider-Man 3.
Additionally, the movie had to be recut immensely with all of the scenes involving the character of Mary Jane Watson (played by Shailene Woodley) landing on the cutting room floor.

Are those worries ultimately justified or is Marc Webb capable of giving the rebooted franchise the necessary polish to make it stand out?  

The plot:
In The Amazing Spider-Man 2, Peter Parker finds that his greatest battle is about to begin. 
It's great to be Spider-Man (Andrew Garfield). For Peter Parker, there's no feeling quite like swinging between skyscrapers, embracing being the hero, and spending time with Gwen (Emma Stone). But being Spider-Man comes at a price: only Spider-Man can protect his fellow New Yorkers from the formidable villains that threaten the city. With the emergence of Electro (Jamie Foxx), Peter must confront a foe far more powerful than himself. And as his old friend, Harry Osborn (Dane DeHaan), returns, Peter comes to realize that all of his enemies have one thing in common: Oscorp.
Source: IMDb 

The Amazing Spider-Man 2's story starts off pretty similar to Sam Raimi's Spider-Man 2 from 2004.
With Spider-Man now being celebrated by the New York citizens with him fighting crime on a daily basis, Amazing Spider-Man 2 cuts right to the chase with only little to zero build-up.
Aside from meaning that knowing about all of the events from the previous movie is highly recommended for your complete "enjoyment" of this sequel, this also "could" open a lot more room for dynamic story telling in The Amazing Spider-Man 2.
Sadly though, the movie instead crumbles under its weight and range of too many ideas or subplots it wants to tell at once.

The Amazing Spider-Man 2 is a movie that constantly somewhat feels rushed with underdeveloped characters and subplots in the process.
The movie obviously has a hard time to focus on enough character- and story development to make each of its several subplots feel credible and (most importantly) interesting.
Aside from Peter Parker wanting to find out what happened to his parents, the movie also features the subplots of Peter's and Gwen's troublesome relationship, Peter's and Harry Osborn's friendship/rivalry, Max Dillon's/Electro's revenge plans against Spider-Man, etc.
Even considering that the movie exceeds the 2-hour runtime mark, the movie has very little time to spend enough focus on either of those plots.
This leads to a rushed overall pace and unconvincing motivations of the characters (most notably the villains).
Many aspects like a more detailled depiction of Max Dillon's personality, Peter's actual working process at the Daily Bugle or Harry's and Peter's relationship would've done wonders to the movie and are easily expected by the viewers, yet the movie dissappoints in that regard.
It easily feels like The Amazing Spider-Man 2 tries to show or at least "hint" at as many Spider-Man comic references as possible as if the director Mark Webb rushed through a check list.

One could only imagine how much more of an unfocused and crowded mess The Amazing Spider-Man 2 would be, if the entire subplot involving Mary Jane Watson would've been left in the movie.

"Quick! Start talking! We still have several other sub-plots to cover!"
Yet, however unfocused and rushed all of the movie's subplots ultimately feel, there is no denying that The Amazing Spider-Man 2 has the primary motivation of evolving its grand story and moving things forward.
Big "game changing" effects, fates and revelations during the movie's storyline, like Peter finally finding out why his parents disappeared, are bound to drastically affect future installments in the franchise.
You can clearly see the passion for driving the overall story forward in The Amazing Spider-Man 2 but sadly the movie simply "bites off more thatn it can chew".
The supposedly big (yet very predictable) twists in the story are there, but they just could've been easily way more effective with more build-up time, focus and a slower pace.

On top of all that, The Amazing Spider-Man 2's unfocused nature further gets underlined by its obvious tonal inconsistency.
While the first entry in the rebooted franchise aimed for a much more realistic and darker tone (oriented on the Ultimate Spider-Man comics), The Amazing Spider-Man 2 heavily switches between a heavily comicy (almost Batman-Foreverish) tone and the dark, more realistic tone of the first movie.
This is also obvious through the movie's weird choice of music scores that mostly tend to remain in the traditional orchestral score area, only to bust out unfitting dubstep beats during fight scenes.
Considering how "funny" and lighthearted the movie starts off at the beginning, it's clearly a drastic and sloppy contrast to its very dark final act and middle parts.
I know Spidey is supposed to be quirky and funny, but...seriously!?
Looking at the acting, there's not anything mind bending to expect here.
However, while the main protagonist actors like Andrew Garfield as Peter Parker and Emma Stone as Gwen Stacy do a pretty solid job, it becomes incredibly obvious that (especially during their very emotional/heartfelt performances) several parts of the movie were cut out during its development resulting in a missing build-up to make those scenes as impactful as they intend to be.
Very often the movie features awkward transitions, in which the relationship between Peter and Gwen somehow drastically changes without any good explanation, or scenes, in which a crying heartfelt performance is buried by the movie's aforementioned inconsistent tone and rushed pace.

Regarding the movie's villains, many fans were worried that The Amazing Spider-Man 2 would equally suffer from an overdose of villains like Sam Raimi's infamous Spider-Man 3.
While not exactly as bad as Spider-Man 3, The Amazing Spider-Man 2 comes very close to being just as badly constructed.
Jamie Foxx as Electro might serve as THE primary villain in the movie but sadly comes off as incredibly uninspired and lazily written. Mostly comparable to Batman Forever's Edward Nigma/The Riddler, his character Max Dillon is inexplicably and suddenly obsessed with Spider-Man after being rescued by him once. It's only after his (again pretty uninspired) transformation into Electro, that he has a deep grudge against Spider-Man for him not remembering who he is (yes...that's really about it).
Another villain comes in the form of Harry Osborn, who (as we all already know) is bound to be the reboot's new Green Goblin.
While it's pretty obvious right from the start that Harry is eventually going to turn into the green foe, his transformation and motivation behind it are also very thinly written, again leading to a very anti-climactic transformation and very underwhelming character design.

Therefore, just as the movie's frequent comicy tone, said offensively non-realistic style also becomes frequent in the lazily written and underwhelming villains, which ultimately come off more like spoiled, insulted, little brats that cry for the most ridiculous reasons just to have an excuse to fight Spider-Man.
It can be clearly pointed out that the problem here clearly isn't the choice of actors (who actually do a pretty okay job for what it's worth) but just the very badly written script.

Oh, and for The Rhino, you can practically forget that he is even in the movie.
His entire screentime is limited to the first intro-action sequence (without the suit) and an extremely short cliffhanger action segment right at the end of the movie. Seriously, that's it. His entire screentime probably comes down to 8 to 10 min tops.
His depiction in and on all of the movie's advertisements comes down to being just a shameful attempt to lure more unaware movie goers into cinemas.

Overly attached Electro.

What the movie actually does right, are (of course) all of its special effects.
The effects are expectedly top notch and fluently blend physical stunt effects and CGI very well together.
Yet, however shiny and sparkly all of the effects and action scenes are, they are far from being anything spectacular that we haven't already seen somewhere else.
It all comes down to Electro and The Green Gobling just not being that much of interesting villains. This is made only worse through the fact that they are simply badly written.
We all have seen Spider-Man swing around New York in 4 movies already and we (sure as hell) have seen enough movies with CGI electric sparks zapping around.
Although the Ultimate Spider-Man oriented villain design of Electro fits Jamie Foxx pretty well and is admittedly cool looking, it's just that - cool looking, but not engaging when in actual action.
Even worse are the scenes involving the "final" villain, The Green Goblin, that show Spidey fighting his hovercraft-flying foe in just about the same manner we have seen a dozen times before already.

Looking back at the first Amazing Spider-Man movie, The Lizard also was a fairly standard villain to fight off (simply a giant lizard), but even there, director Marc Webb showed much creativity when he let Spider-Man fight the giant lizard-creature in various exciting environments (like the high-school) with tactics similar to how an actual spider would behave (like the big trap-net Spidey webbed in the sewers or actually wrapping the lizard into a web-cocoon).
Unfortunately, The Amazing Spider-Man 2 features absolutely none of said creativity. It's all standard fare with swings, punches and kicks and absolutely nothing else.
Thus, effects-technically, The Amazing Spider-Man 2 might be top notch, but action choreography-wise, it's an extremely mediocre and dull affair that might only excite the most hardcore of fans.

Swing. Punch. Kick. Repeat.

Overall, The Amazing Spider-Man 2 misses the chance of improving upon the first entry of the rebooted Spider-Man franchise, due to its unfocused over-ambition and dull "been-there-done-that" feel.
With simply too many underdeveloped subplots and characters (especially villains), the movie in many cases suffers from the very same problems that plagued Sam Raimi's infamous Spider-Man 3, although not equally as intense.
On that note, The Amazing Spider-Man 2 has additional problems regarding its rushed pace and most notably inconsistent tone. There's nothing wrong with a super hero movie that wants to be a comicy lighthearted blockbuster, but in that case, the movie has to stick to that certain tone consistently.
With that said, The Amazing Spider-Man 2 frequently doesn't know whether it wants to be a more realistic and serious take on the hero or a comicy action blockbuster remnisicient of  Joel Schumacher's 90's Batman movies.
In a genre, in which the Avengers, X-Men and Batman set new high standards, The Amazing Spider-Man 2 falls incredibly flat both in its narrative structure as well as its action scenes, which turn out remarkably dull and "un-amazing" here.   

Regarding its overall storyline, The Amazing Spider-Man 2 is without a doubt a crucial (albeit forced) step forward for the rebooted Spider-Man franchise, yet quality-wise, it sure as hell ain't.

Final Verdict: 3 out of 10 

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