The Amazing Spider-Man 2 is one of those movies where at one of the climaxes (there are a few here, but the one I’m referring to is a scene where two passenger planes are heading toward each other), the hero has four minutes to resolve the disastrous situation and twenty minutes later there is still thirty seconds left on the clock (the writers must be watching too much football).
Of course, I’m not sure I’m being fair. This is a standard trope for action movies and I’ve enjoyed many a one that, well, let’s say played fast and loose with the space time consortium. And this one cheats no more than the best or worst of them.
Beyond that, as far as I’m concerned, on a scale of one to ten, The Amazing Spider-Man 2 is less painful than Superman and The Amazing Spider-Man 1, but far, far, far more painful than Iron Man 2 and The Dark Knight Rises.
How you feel about the movie may well depend on how you feel about the characters of Spider-Man and Peter Parker, as well as the actor Andrew Garfield, who plays both. For me, in this entry in the franchise, Parker has gone from being a somewhat shy, awkward high school senior who looked old enough to be his own father (okay, I’m exaggerating, but you get my drift) in the first film to being a smug little asshat of a graduating high school senior looking old enough to be his own father (again exaggerating).
I’m sorry. But every time Parker made one of his snarky little comments, I just wanted to slap him silly, though I restrained myself knowing what might happen if I crossed the web slinger in any way, shape or form (not only would I be webicized to the wall, I’d have to listen to his feeble attempts at wit ad nauseam). It’s the sort of thing Shia LaBeouf built his career on and can still get away with, but even there, it’s wearing a bit thin.
The plot itself is fine. It continues the previous rigamarole of some dirty deeds going on at Oscorp Industries and their Frankenstein-like, God defying attempts to play with our DNA. What we know, and others only suspect, is that there is a shadow organization within the corporation that plans on world domination, or some standard evil doer falderol like that. And it all has something to do with the disappearance of Parker’s dad and mother a number of years earlier.
The story, though, is hampered by a cast that is either let down by the screenplay (authored by Alex Kurtzman, Roberto Orci, Jeff Pinker and James Vanderbilt) or just can’t rise to the occasion of it. I’m not sure which. Probably both.
Andrew Garfield as Parker and Emma Stone as his star crossed love Gwen Stacy aren’t bad, it’s just that their characters aren’t that interesting and neither can really bring that much to proceedings.
However, it’s Jamie Foxx as Max Dillon/Electro and Dane DeHaan as Harry Osborn/Green Goblin who give, perhaps, the weakest performances. Both of them seem just incredibly miscast, not remotely right for their roles. And, sad to say, this is perhaps Foxx’s worst performance. (It’s also probably not to the movie’s advantage that there is at least one too many villains de jour here.)
It’s up to the other bad guys to step up the plate and save the acting day: Colm Feore and Louis Cancelmi give intense, lower key, sociopathic performances as henchman at Oscorp and Paul Giamatti (who, I was embarrassed to say, I didn’t even recognize at first) is hysterical as the Russian mobster Aleksei Sytsevich, who has a great joke in that all of Spider-Man’s attempts at bon mots fall flat on him since he can’t understand a word the superhero is saying (which is only fair since we can’t understand a single thing Aleksei is saying, either—it’s like a foreign film dub skit on Whose Line Is It Anyway?).
Of the good guys, only Sally Field has her moments, possibly because she seems to be playing the whole thing in a more realistic, down to earth acting style than the others (as do Feore and Cancelmi). I suppose I also must say that I liked Campbell Scott and Embeth Davidtz as Parker’s parents, as well.
The whole shebang climaxes at a knock down drag out between Spider-Man and Electro at a power plant with tall columns that produce electricity. It’s a pretty standard action scene, but as both characters got bounced around from tower to tower, I so wanted the point count to light up on a pinball scoreboard.
The direction is by Marc Webb and I can’t really say he does a bad job of it. He certainly directs traffic with the best of them. At the same time, he has this knack of constantly interrupting action scenes by slowing down various set pieces of fisticuffs to the point of even full stoppage at times. For those who like this sort of thing, fine. I found it as irritating and smug as Spider-Man’s personality.