04/09/2014 12:00 | By Marshall Julius, MSN Movies

The Amazing Spider-Man 2 - movie review

Andrew Garfield is back as Spider-Man, but does the movie deliver what we want it to?


The Amazing Spider-Man 2 (© AP Photo Sony Pictures)

Release date: April 16

Certificate: 12A

Starring: Andrew Garfield, Emma Stone, Jamie Foxx, Dane DeHaan, Sally Field, Campbell Scott, Paul Giamatti

Director: Marc Webb

What’s the story?
Peter Parker (Andrew Garfield) has a lot going on in his life. Keeping New York City safe is a full time job, but it’s one he loves, as Spider-Man. After promising Gwen’s (Emma Stone) dying dad that he’d leave her alone, to keep her safe, Petey’s feeling pretty bad about dating her. Quite right too.

Meanwhile at Oscorp, a geeky scientist (Jamie Foxx) has a mishap involving supercharged eels that transforms him into the villain Electro. Also young Harry Osborn (Dane DeHaan) is genetically cursed to turn into The Green Goblin. To a lesser extent, an angry Russian gangster (Paul Giamatti) has a date with a Rhino suit.

Also there’s a mystery to solve, The Case of the Disappearing Parents. Really it’s a lot to balance. Other stuff happens too, at least we think it does, but it’s such a busy film, it was hard to keep track.

What did we think?

Delivering way too much, and at the same time, not nearly enough, this latest Spidey effort is neither amazing nor even satisfactory, an excessively busy film full of barely developed subplots that should either have been extensively reworked or dropped entirely.

Certainly the stuff involving Peter’s absent scientist dad could have been cut because ultimately, the information he learns as a result of that particular plot strand is really pretty minor. Nothing he couldn’t have learned in a quick e-mail. What’s strange is that other, more important things in Peter’s life are quickly glossed over, mainly because they were properly explored during the Tobey Maguire years. The result is an uneven quick-slow-quick-quick-slow sort of dance through Spidey lore that will frustrate fans and confuse newbies.

For years now, superhero sequels have been ruined because the filmmakers felt compelled to over-egg things. As if one strong, commanding, compelling villain isn’t as entertaining as two or three lesser efforts. By which I mean, Electro, who’s less a bright spark than he is a damp fizzle and looks disturbingly like Schwarzenegger’s Freeze from Batman & Robin. Also the Goblin, who just looks kind of gross, and is a villain we’ve already seen way too much of lately.

We’re also tired and frankly sick of superhero romances. It’s sexist to suppose that women won’t endure a comicbook adventure unless there’s a will they/won’t they subplot.

"It’s always fun to see Spidey swinging through New York, and his web-slinging is as imaginative in this as it was in the first"

Believe it or not, in the comics themselves, there are often entire story arcs that manage to pass without Spider-Man or the like making kissy faces with some sassy supporting character, or wearily mooning about a troublesome relationship.

And watching real-life love connection Garfield and Stone mumble their smiley way  through half-improvised flirtations is icky, to say the least.

Marc Webb’s 2012 reboot had a lot of potential, a semi-solid foundation upon which to build not only Spidey films, but also multiple spin-offs.

Regrettably it’s a foundation upon which Spidey 2 builds wobbly structures that topple in all the wrong directions.

Effects-wise, it’s all very Noughties, with shockingly obvious CGI. Design-wise, it channels the spirit of Schumacher’s Batflicks.

The characters, their dialogue, even the musical score, all merely pass muster. Honestly, we’re not even sure we like Garfield’s gangly performance any more.

Though it’s always fun to see Spidey swinging through New York, and his web-slinging is as imaginative in this as it was in the first, the action is mostly commonplace and fails to engage. Certainly there’s nothing in this movie to compete with Spidey’s epic train brawl with Doc Ock in Raimi’s vastly superior Spider-Man 2.

Really it’s not so much bad as merely not good enough, a film that fails to compete, on every level, with Disney’s superior Marvel efforts. With superhero adventures the calibre of Captain America: The Winter Soldier doing the rounds, The Amazing Spider-Man 2 simply doesn’t cut the mustard.

Three stars

Verdict:

When the credits rolled, most of the audience stuck around, hoping for a promising teaser sequence. When none came, boos rang throughout the cinema. Our disappointment was complete. Based on this, we can’t muster much enthusiasm for either a third Spidey movie or a Sinister Six spin-off. It’s going to be an uphill struggle for Webb and friends.
 

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