Movie Review: 'The Amazing Spider-Man 2' (2014)

Spider-Man slings back into action in this visually stunning and often times, ill-plotted sequel. Opening with a lame flashback sequence featuring Peter Parker’s parents, the momentum picks up when the film zooms to the present, placing viewers in the eye of a police chase.

With this chaotic action sequence, we are re-introduced to the clash-and-bang universe of Spidey’s New York. The aerials of the city, and the first person perspective of Spider-Man, swooping down into the pulse of the city are spectacular, a fully engrossing spell-binder from "The Amazing Spider-Man 2."

Then the story starts. Peter (Andrew Garfield) and Spider-Man’s worlds collide after a struggle to get to graduation puts tension in Peter's romantic relationship. The often explored aspect of a superhero’s personal life and professional duty are revisited again, as Peter and the brilliant Gwen Stacy (Emma Stone) part ways in a cordial split. Whether the break-up sticks plays as the romantic drama that encompasses their joint storyline.

The core characters are all, well-realized on a script level. Aunt May with her ferocious maternal nature, Peter with his adroit dialogue and Gwen with her savvy brain-power. The character arcs hit the right notes and address the heart of what makes Spider-Man so appealing among his superhero peers. He is a guy with real, working-class problems.

He does not have financial superpowers and a glitzy lifestyle. While cerebrally gifted, the character of Peter has always been relatable and that comes through again, in this installment. One aspect of the script that struggles is the Parker family backstory. Peter’s dad especially comes across cold and aloof as the care he expresses for his son, seems strikingly artificial.

As the character of Peter Parker has long been one of the greatest assets to the film franchise, a major drawback has always been the series’ villains. From the original Green Goblin in the first franchise to Electro in the latest, these are all sympathetic characters.

From the moment the audience is introduced to Max Dillon (Jamie Foxx), he is sympathetic; a downtrodden guy, living in the shadows of everyone else’s existence. Emphasizing his empathy quotient is Foxx’s solicitously innocent performance.

Hampering the Electro storyline further is the means by which he falls out with Spider-Man and the mechanism that spurs his evolution is dated, cartoonish and hard to swallow as anything other than non-sensical.

Harry Osborn (Dane DeHaan) is relegated to being a seething emo with paternal issues. Sporting one of the worst haircuts in all of movie-dom, a distracting chunk of bang hair constantly falls into his eyes. This gratingly obnoxious piece of hair-styling is simply put, horrible.

The entire Harry/Goblin storyline is weakly pieced together and his righteous anger results in a couch-thrashing tantrum that is distractedly awkward. DeHaan attempts to overcome his performance-draining hairstyle but the writing does him little favors.

As for the titular hero, Andrew Garfield falls short of delivering a competent turn. While on the other hand, Emma Stone finds the amiable and endearing charm of Gwen’s enduring intelligence and likable persona. It’s a performance she kicks up a notch from the original and owns this time around.

Sally Field brings about most of the film’s resounding emotion as she’s given an adequate chance to shine. Sadly, magnificent actors Chris Cooper, Paul Giamatti, and Colm Feore are wasted in marginal roles, as is Felicity Jones.

As a 3-D IMAX experience the film is immersive. However, constant lens flares interfere with it substantially. The special effects are brilliant as the web spinning through the city and acrobatic movements of Spider-Man are the best they have ever been. Jarringly, the up-tempo nature of the film is thwarted with an ending that runs contrary to the overarching temperament the film had maintained. 

There are a lot of things “The Amazing Spider-Man 2” gets right; the visuals, the central character’s arcs, and some memorable rescues. Where it goes wrong is in dragging itself out of rhythm with its off-kilter closing chapter and featuring a deluge of villains. They say you should leave audiences wanting more, this film just leaves them wanting. Rating: 6.5/10

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