The sequel to the 2012 film, Andrew Garfield is back as Peter Parker/Spider-Man and Emma Stone returns as his love interest Gwen Stacy. As Peter and Gwen finally graduate from high school and try to find direction in their lives, a new threat to New York and all those bitten by radioactive spiders is about to emerge…
So much and yet so little
Starting in the past, for a moment you’d be forgiven for thinking you’d gone to see The Amazing Spider-Man instead of The Amazing Spider-Man 2, as you’re forced to recount the final days of Richard Parker, including giving up his only son. But I rolled with it as director Marc Webb and writers Alex Kurtzman, Roberto Orci and Jeff Pinker slowly brought the film into gear. And I hoped that the character’s past would have a real impact on the film’s events.
Bouncing along to a Peter Parker/Spider-Man who’s late for graduation, already I felt like there was too much going on. The shift, while necessary, from past to present felt a tad much, like we could have gone straight to Peter’s fight to get to his high school graduation on time. In fact, the flashback subplot the film opens with is carelessly tossed to one side later on in the film and is symptomatic of the film’s overstuffed storyline with details carelessly overlooked or characters given too little time to develop.
Jamie Foxx is Max Dillon/Electro – the film’s most publicised antagonist. He’s also one of the few villains I have felt a pang of empathy for, not because of what happens to him in the film, but the very portrayal and characterisation of his character. Apart from being characterised as a geeky, no-friends, no-hope kind of guy, he quickly descends into being a character who has clearly got some psychological health issues. Max exhibits symptoms that are similar to aspects of Schizophrenia before becoming Electro and these traits are used as the basis for the character’s hatred of Spider-Man.
See, [blackout]Max, before becoming Electro, was led into thinking by Spider-Man that they were best buddies when Spider-Man didn’t mean it literally. But Max runs with this fantasy and it warps into a full-on delusion.[/blackout] It made me incredibly unconformable to watch the development of Max into Electro and the continued presence of his psychological health issues without the film acknowledging they’re there. To me, it was as if the film’s creators thought they could get away with presenting a psychological illness as a means for someone to become a bad guy if they didn’t name it, but the lack of acknowledgement just made it worse. Max’s characterisation was like Napoleon Dynamite all over again.
I’ve got mixed feelings about Spider-Man 2. While the first film in the reboot series was strong, I felt that this one had a few mixed messages in. Starting from the outset, we see Peter and Gwen back together. My first thought was, “hold on, these characters left off with Peter dumping Gwen because of the danger he would put her in and Gwen being angry”. While they did play about with this concept a few times, the initial start left me a bit disorientated.
I actually felt that this film had problems with motivation compared to the previous film. The villains start out pretty much as besties with Parker/Spider-man and very quickly turn on him – and very ferociously. Obviously, most villains should have some sort of connection to the hero, but I felt like this was ridiculous.
The best thing from the previous film that has been carried through is probably the humour. Those unfamiliar with the comic books probably wouldn’t get that the humour was missing from Tobey Maguire’s venture, but is actually quite well done here.
Both Emma Stone and Andrew Garfield play very well going from emotionally gushing to laugh-out-loud funny and back again. The comedy/tragedy dynamic is very strong with the film and in generally works. Spider-Man does come off as quippy, and makes me feel that if Deadpool actually wanted his own film, it would work – as long as it was different from X-Men Origins: Wolverine’s Deadpool.
We can almost guarantee that this film will be successful enough to have another sequel, and it’s almost guaranteed that Mary-Jane will be introduced, and predictably Peter will be of two minds whether to pursue that romance or not. Overall I’m kind of glad that the more recognisable name hasn’t come into the story yet. I’m just hoping that they do something more outside of Oscorp next time.
I’m not saying that the film was too long, but it did add on further plot points than it needed to after it reached what would have been a dramatically appropriate moment to end the film.
Instead it was stretched on further than it needed to be without really adding much to it and giving us very little to look forward to in the obvious sequel on the horizon. We were shown moments with characters that really would have been better left to the opening of the next film. I assume the only reason they continued on was to stop the film ending with no catharsis at the end.
The stupid thing is that by plodding on, the film’s ending felt cheap and unsatisfying. Perhaps ending at the natural point would have been a little cliché, but it would have stopped the film’s ending from cheapening the events that directly led to it. Dragging everything on also added to the feeling that the film really did have too much going on. Also: Rhino was ridiculous – I cannot imagine any defence contractor today proposing an armoured, full-body suit with weapons and that the suit is shaped like a rhinoceros.
Worth a watch?
Having enjoyed the previous film, I found The Amazing Spider-Man 2 to be too eager to throw in plot points without properly concluding them or never giving them due process. It felt like bits of story were crammed in just for the sake of it. This coupled with the troubling characterisation of Max Dillon/Electro and feelings I share with Paul on the motivations of the film’s antagonists: I can’t recommend that you watch this film. Go and watch the extended version of Spider-Man 2 instead.
The Amazing Spider-Man 2 is out now in cinemas. The reviewers bought their own tickets.