The Amazing Spider-Man 2 is the story of how Spider-Man helped Sony keep its movie rights with a decent sequel, but was ultimately defeated by ridiculously two-dimensional villains. Sure, there’s some fun to be had, since it’s always fun to see what millions of dollars of CGI can do, and there’s even a profound theme about time somewhere. Unfortunately there’s also four or so other story lines that distract and tangle up in a web of too much information. Some great examples of too much material: a completely unnecessary opening act that finally answered the question, “did Peter’s parents die in a plane crash?” (yes, they did), a completely unnecessary villain (Rhino), and a jaw-droppingly small payoff to the big mystery about Peter’s dad.
But hey, let’s talk about the good aspects first. First, I finally bought Andrew Garfield‘s Peter Parker. He came across as more fun and less of a jerk, and I even ended up enjoying bits of him and Gwen Stacy (Emma Stone) together. Their love story was handled just as well as the original Sam Raimi trilogy (you can’t help but compare to the original films if it’s been less than 10 years). Also, there was an underlying theme about spending your time wisely that I enjoyed. There were multiple shots of clocks, Gwen spelled it out in her valedictory, and Gwen’s final scene was in a clock tower. Did you miss it? I sure did, until someone pointed it out to me. If they stayed focused on this deeper content instead of throwing in more and more plot fluff, I really believe this could have been a stronger movie. Finally on that note, Dane DeHaan‘s performance as Harry Osborn was surprisingly my favorite villain, even though they crunched into half a movie what the original trilogy developed in three. Sorry, I don’t buy that you’re “best friends” if you hung out ten years ago (at age 8!) and just reconnected for a whole 24 hours. That said, DeHaan seemed to understand his character and made the most of it.
Now for the bad, that is, the other two villains. Jamie Foxx is supposed to be the film’s main villain Electro, who becomes a powerful electronic entity who can fly because he electrocuted the crap out of himself in a tub full of eels. Yes, it makes about as much sense in the movie too, and his whole origin scene seemed out of place in a movie series where they made so much effort to logically explain Goblin and the Lizard. Even more hilarious was how frying his brains out with electric eels did several year’s of orthodontic work on his teeth, even taking out the world’s most fake looking tooth gap. What really fizzled (ho!) was his pre-Electro acting as Max Dillon. Foxx as Max was an eye-rollingly cheesy example of over-acting that did the character no justice. I could go on to discuss how he went from Spider ultra-fan to Spider-hater in 5 seconds, but I won’t because at that point his special effects were at least awesome. His end fight scene also crackled with pretty lighting effects until its sudden K.O. and the writers swept him under the rug.
If you ever wondered what Paul Giamatti looks like tripping on bath salts, this is your answer. Paul as Aleksei Sytsevich aka Rhino basically acts like a psycho Russian caricature who’s had too much crazy vodka. It’s a cartoonish, 60’s-era performance that somehow makes Jaime Foxx’s seem subtle. Out of all three villains, Rhino’s appearance in the movie is definitely the most rushed (clocking in with 10 minutes screen time at the most), but he still somehow manages to remove any emotional payoffs from the ending with the worst buildup to the worst non-existent fight ever. As in, if you’ve seen the trailers, you’ve seen the entire Rhino robot suit battle. It simply cuts off out of shame. By the time the mid-credits X-Men trailer (I know, what?) shows up, any lasting effect from the movie’s deeper parts had largely disappeared.
Final impressions? Too much exposition and too many villains clog up an otherwise entertaining film. The Amazing Spider-Man movie series is getting better, but in my mind this was still not even as good as Spider-Man 3, because at least that bloated film had better villains and J. Jonah Jameson. On that note, here’s a clip of him laughing.