Sequel falls into same trappings as film series it meant to reboot
“The Amazing Spider-Man 2” falls into the same sticky web as the previous Spider-Man film series it meant to reboot did — multiple villains, numerous storylines, a lackluster romance — and failing just as miserably.
At this point I think it is safe to assume Spider-Man just doesn’t have what it takes to reignite public interest in him, given the lazy direction of this reboot series. I can’t say I’m shocked; 2012’s “The Amazing Spider-Man” proved to be a relatively mediocre affair, and I didn’t have much hope for future chapters. And it seems my instincts were right.
Peter Parker/Spider-Man (Andrew Garfield) finds himself running the gauntlet when two superhuman beings Max Dillon/Electro (Jamie Foxx) and Harry Osborn/Green Goblin (Dane DeHaan) emerge from the mega-corporation Oscorp.
And on top of that, Peter’s relationship with Gwen Stacy (Emma Stone) is at a critical turning point since she has to choose whether to stay with him or pursue her college ambitions.
As much as I disliked this film, I’ll admit that the flamboyant CG effects and action sequences have turned up a notch or two. Whether it’s the opening chase involving Spider-Man and Aleksei Sytsevich/Rhino (Paul Giamatti in an extended cameo) or the Times Square showdown where Electro makes his debut, it would be a crime not to acknowledge the amplified intensity of these scenes. Then again, Spider-Man’s final battle with Electro and the Green Goblin does tend to overwhelm the eyes, even for someone accustomed to gigantic visuals.
But even a web of action-packed spectacle isn’t enough to save “The Amazing Spider-Man 2” from falling into the same “Spider-Man 3” hole — and it’s a real shame history has to repeat itself.
Director Marc Webb’s follow-up is crowded with several big storylines and has a tough time juggling all of them. We have Peter’s relationship with Gwen and the mystery surrounding his parents’ disappearance (which takes a backseat to everything else), as well as subplots revolving around Harry Osborn and Electro. From the looks of it, the film’s ability to multitask gets pushed beyond limits, causing the narrative to stretch itself too thin.
Peter and Gwen’s romance can’t make up its mind as to what direction it intends to follow, and this troubling development is worsened by the fact that the film plays up the awkward conversations to the point where they become wooden.
Andrew Garfield didn’t convince me he was the web-slinging superhero two years ago, and he still hasn’t won me over. Why? Well, that’s because his performance is still same old-same old.
Emma Stone isn’t quite as stodgy as her male co-star; she brings a certain level of ambitious independence to Gwen that you’d expect to rescue this film from its disastrous outcome. But she, too, falls under the spell of stilted awkwardness and doesn’t develop her character in a way that would make her more than just your typical comic book love interest.
And to make matters worse, Electro’s origins and purpose are nothing special. Director Webb tries and fails to justify his existence by having him stick around to show off his powers. As for Harry Osborn, a.k.a. the Green Goblin…well, that’s another story.
The film’s portrayals of Electro and the Green Goblin fail to generate much interest in either of them. Jamie Foxx looks flashy when he becomes this living electrical generator, but when he takes a stab at imbuing this “nobody” with substance, his motivations come off as unconvincing. And while Dane DeHaan, who plays Harry Osborn, turns in a solid performance, his transformation into the Green Goblin is mistimed; it would’ve been better if director Webb had saved that villainous alter-ego for a later film.
This isn’t the summer blockbuster to whisk you away. As a repetition of the blunders made by “Spider-Man 3” and a disappointment in its own right, it’s the complete opposite of satisfying entertainment. Take my word for it.
MPAA rating: PG-13 for stylized action violence.
Run time: 2 hours and 22 minutes
Playing: In general release