Sony is trying hard to be like Marvel Studios. Too hard. With their hopes fixated on the horizon, the next big thing, they’ve become too concerned with building a universe out of the small slice of pie they have. As such, they’ve put the cart before the horse. A heavy cart at that. The Amazing Spider-Man 2, true to Sony’s new direction for the franchise, is bloated and overstuffed, trying to cram decades worth of story lines into a 2.5-hour flick. Though there are plenty of great moments sprinkled throughout, ultimately, the new Spidey is a distended mess.
It’s hard to tune out the negative criticisms this has received. Mostly, they’re right on the money. This is a jumbled mess, worse than Iron Man 2 (or Avengers 0.5 many have called it). There have been plenty of news stories about how Sony wants to compete with Marvel, making a larger franchise out of Spider-Man, with a sequel, a Venom movie, and a Sinister Six movie all in the works. If you’ve managed to avoid this news, it’s apparent here. Rather than taking the time to tell a complete story that stands on its own, like the Winter Soldier, Spidey 2 rushed from A to D, skipping B and C along the way.
What worked? A lot, actually. Andrew Garfield is great as Peter, and as Spider-Man. Though his hair is still just as stupid as it was in the first film, he does a great job balancing both aspects of the character. Equally as good is Emma Stone’s Gwen Stacey. The two have incredible chemistry, adding credence to their love story, and dilemma. As for Jamie Foxx’s Electro, it’s a mixed bag. The actor did a great job, but the character is a mess. I liked the updated look, and that’s it. Could they have made him more pathetic? They pushed that aspect too far. As for his powers, getting hit with super electricity falls in line with 1960s Spider-Man nonsense, so I guess that works.
Again, the look was good, but when he started teleporting, it was hard to believe he was anything but a Dr. Manhattan (Watchmen) clone. Also, the voices in his head on Times Square, were they brought to us by Static X? Dumb. I understand his eventual hate of Spider-Man, but the speech in his incarceration was over the top and didn’t make much sense. “I want to see how strong I am, take away the power, and kill Spider-Man.” And the German doctor probing him was a joke, in a bad way.
Finally, there’s the Osborns (nothing to do with Ozzy, though that would have been better). We finally saw Norman Osborn (Chris Cooper), and he was a letdown. Aside from being too nice, what the hell kind of disease did he have? One that turns your skin green and scaly, giving you claws? And Harry (Dane DeHaan) was another mixed bag. DeHaan is reminiscent of a young Leonard DeCaprio, and gave a solid performance, but like Electro, wasn’t given great material. And why would no one tell him how stupid his hair looked?
Rapid-fire notes: Rhino (Paul Giamatti) was smartly used as a write-off villain, but wow did he look bad in the end. What purpose did Aunt May serve here? The plane thing was stupid. Most of the action looked poorly green screened. Final showdown with Green Goblin was gripping, especially the last part. Please, no more about Peter’s parents. MJ was in this movie; they cut her out, smart move. Some cool name drops, Smythe, Felicia (probably Hardy), Jameson. The guy at the end, Mr. Fiers or Fliers (dude in the hat and trench coat from both movies), is a nobody as far as the comics are concerned. Scene from trailer — Harry telling Peter OsCorp was watching him — was edited out. I hate when they do that. Great job showcasing how physically strong Spidey is.
As for the X-Men credits, here’s the scoop. Director Marc Webb did (500) Days of Summer for Fox. They had him contracted for another movie after he did The Amazing Spider-Man. Sony wanted him to do the sequel immediately. The deal they brokered with Fox to get Webb was to put an X-Men tag in this, generating publicity and traffic and speculation. The clip used Jennifer Lawrence because of how SEO friendly her name is. Look for her name in every article I write from now on.
The Amazing Spider-Man 2 had some fun action and solid moments, but the bloated, ham-fisted material outweighed the good. I don’t think I could sit through this again. Worth seeing once, but your mileage may vary.
Think Electro was dumb? Enjoy Gwen and Peter? Comment below!
Tony writes for his own site, thecredhulk.com, about comics, video games, movies, TV and more, six days a week. You can follow his updates on Facebook or Twitter. Drop by and tell ’em hi.