Thursday, 15 May 2014

The Amazing Spider-man 2 (2014) Movie Review

This week, I put on my favourite unitard (we miss you, Denis Leary) and web-slung my way down to the local theatre to check out The Amazing Spider-man 2 (2014), starring Andrew Garfield, Emma Stone and Jamie Foxx. It's directed by Marc Webb.

The Amazing Spider-man 2 kicks off shortly after the events of the first film. Peter Parker (Andrew Garfield) is struggling with his relationship with Gwen Stacy (Emma Stone) after promising her father he would stay away from her. This, coupled with the continued mystery of his parent's disappearance gets further complicated by the introduction of several new villains, all of which end up working together in an effort to kill our intrepid hero.

At it's core, this is the biggest issue with the film. But I'll get back to that. First, let me heap some praise on it.

As with the first film, the chemistry between Garfield and Stone is undeniable. They just work together on screen, no doubt aided by their real life romance off screen. Sally Field also turns in an excellent performance befitting an actress of her renown and caliber. Some of her interactions with Garfield are downright heartbreaking. 

Visually, this is the most VFX fueled Spider-man movie to date. The action sequences are nothing short of amazing (ha!). I was very skeptical at the prospect of bringing Electro to the big screen. Said skepticism was unfounded. Other than some clunky dialogue and way, way too much back story, the action beats involving Electro are easily the best parts of this movie. It's a shame everything else got so messy.

And by messy, I mean really messy. This movie never really decides what it wants to be. Is it a romance? A comedy? An action movie? A sci-fi film? A drama? A teen angst movie? A conspiracy movie? It's definitely hard to classify. I can only tell you what I experienced, and that was a series of jarring plot threads that didn't work together.

Here, I'll point form as many plot elements from the film that I can remember and you tell me if it's too many or not:
  • The Rhino is introduced
  • Peter and Gwen's on again/off again romance
  • Harry Osborn is introduced, then plays a major role in the movie as Peter's childhood chum and dying billionaire
  • Norman Osborn is introduced with his back story explained
  • Peter's parents and their fate is revealed
  • Peter's parents appear again later in the film and give us the reason why Peter became Spider-man when bitten
  • Max Dillon is introduced. The "nerdy character who barely exists" cliche is explored ad nauseum before he's turned into Electro, who then plays a major role as the key villain of the film
  • Gwen is accepted to Oxford University in England, further complicating things with Peter
  • Aunt May gets a job to pay the bills and keeps it a secret from Peter
  • Peter stops being Spider-man for 5 months
  • Peter keeps seeing Gwen's dad all over the place, complicating his relationship with Gwen
  • Harry needs Spider-man's blood
  • Hints of additional villains abound. In particular, the Vulture's wings and Doc Ock's arms are clearly shown
  • There's a hostile takeover at Oscorp

Sadly, I could probably come up with at least a half dozen more. A vain attempt is made to connect some of these threads, but it doesn't work. It was just too damned busy and likely explains the film's lengthy run-time.

I'd be remiss if I didn't also mention the film's soundtrack. It's terrible. Like the movie, it can't seem to decide what kind of tone it wants to convey. At one point, it's all high trumpets and very heroic music. Thirty seconds later and it's all deep base and crazy electronics. Then we're back to the heroic music again. None of it seemed synced with the action. It was so jarring that it took me out of the movie throughout.

In the end, this movie is overburdened with the all the groundwork the studio wanted in there for potential spinoff films. It's a shame too. This franchise is going in the wrong direction and fast. I know Sony has greenlit two additional sequels after this one with at least two spinoff movies as well. They'll have to work really hard with Spidey 3 to earn the audience's trust to keep the series alive and kicking.

2.5 stars out of 5

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