All My Friends Are Villains: The Amazing Spider-Man 2

Someone actually says that Spider-Man “does everything a spider does” in The Amazing Spider-Man 2. Which basically gives you an idea of how tone deaf the film is, if we were ever supposed to take it seriously at all.

Honestly, it’s really hard to tell.

Very minor spoilers for the film below.

It’s no hardship to say it because there’s never any question; this film is a slapdash mess. There are about three separate plots that only warrant one serious conversation apiece from the cast, the film is overlong by about a half hour, and the action is… well, it’s fine. The most exciting thing about the CGI in the film is how you can see Spidey’s suit is made of real fabric, even when he’s diving through the air!

For those who were hoping for a resolution on the mystery of Peter’s parents from the first film, it’s resolved alright. That isn’t to say that its resolved meaningfully or even all that interestingly, but you will definitely find out what the deal is with Richard Parker and his science-laden secrets. Peter will find out too, obviously, and it has no real affect on him and the plot whatsoever. But at least we can all finally put our curiosity to bed on that one.

With three separate villains already tagged before the film was released, no doubt fans were worried that a repeat of Raimi’s Spider-Man 3 was bound to occur, and there are places where the films are reminiscent of each other. There is too much to tie up in one film, after all. But Amazing 2 actually might come off the poorer exercise of the two, simply because it has no panache. There’s no driving style behind it, just a lot of white noise and cues for comics fans to slurp up. Because the creative team here seemed to think that paying homage to something was the same as doing justice to it.

It’s not.

It’s sad because the performances are really top notch all the way around. Andrew Garfield deserves a better film than this because he effectively is Peter Parker—he embodies everything that fans love about that mouthy teenager, all sweet swagger and badly handled excuses. Emma Stone is disarming as ever in the role of Gwen Stacey, even if she is forced to give the worst graduation speech ever at the start of the film, which is so clearly A Speech of Foreshadowing you wonder why someone doesn’t take Gwen aside and ask if she’s okay once they hand over her diploma.

There are wasted moments everywhere; the most moving scene of the film is between Aunt May and Peter, a beautiful moment between essentially mother and son that only really plays because Sally Field is always on point no matter what you give her. Yet again, the conversation doesn’t prove important later in the game at all. Also, Harry Osborn is suddenly here and vital to everything. We’re told that he and Peter used to be best buddies, and they play that vibe well, like two inseparable teenage bros… which is weird because we’re also told that they haven’t spoken since they were about nine years old. It’s painful because there were so many ways Harry’s story could have been rendered that would have allowed for some excellent moral ambiguity between the Parker and Osborn family stories, but it’s roundly ignored. Chris Cooper is wasted in one tired scene that featues Norman Osborn being evil and cruel simply because that’s just what Norman Osborn does.

Perhaps the person to be most offended for here is Jamie Foxx, who works so hard to make Max Dillon someone the audience can relate to, so that Electro has something to build on as a villain. Problem is, the tone surrounding him in the first half of the film indicates him as nothing but comic relief. When we’re supposed to start feeling for the guy, we’ve already written him off as a joke. There’s also a weird scientist who is allowed to experiment on Electro once he’s powered up, and the guy has the most overblown, camp German accent you have ever heard because we still like making quasi-Nazi jokes maybe?

There’s not much else to say… okay, there’s a lot more to be said, but that will have to be a very spoilery commentary saved for another day because the ending of this film is disappointing on every level of criticism you point at it. There’s really no making up for it. It doesn’t satisfy, it doesn’t teach us anything, and it certainly doesn’t make us excited for more Spider-Man.

Whatever your opinion on the Raimi films, that Spider-Man sequel ended with a well-placed “Go get ’em, Tiger.” For Amazing Spider-Man 2, all we’re left with is a static shock to the fingertips and an empty reminder to be hopeful. About what, you might ask?

Well, about Spider-Man, one would presume. Though after this film, it’s hard to know why.

Emmet Asher-Perrin will be back to talk about Gwen Stacey because, just, no. You can bug her on Twitter and read more of her work here and elsewhere.


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