Anthony Stokes on what The Amazing Spider-Man 2 does right and what it does wrong (warning: major spoilers follow)….
I was never a fan of Marc Webb’s The Amazing Spider-Man. Quite the opposite – I really disliked it. Sony only made the movie to retain the rights and you can tell. It’s rushed, not very well thought out, and incredibly dull. There’s no stylistic flair and more importantly nothing about it that makes it unique from any other superhero franchise. For me, it’s no better than Green Lantern – they both suffer from weak screenwriting, dull direction and story telling. As near as I can tell, fans who enjoy the movie like it because it’s “closer to the comics” than the Sam Raimi version. However, I don’t judge an adaptation on how well it sticks to the comics. My favorite graphic novel is Watchmen but I dislike the movie because it sticks too closely to the source material and is very clunky and sloppy because of it. However, The Amazing Spider-Man gave these fans the Spider-Man they wanted to see. And now we have a sequel two summers later – The Amazing Spider-Man 2. In some ways, it improves on the first one, and in other ways it’s a lot worse. Let’s start with what it does right…
It kind of gets the villains right
My big concern when seeing the poster The Amazing Spider-Man 2 was seeing three villains and thinking it was going to be a big sloppy mess of a movie. I’ll put a pin in that point to save for later, but to my surprise Harry Osborn (Dane DeHaan) and Max Dillon (Jamie Foxx) were two of my favorite parts of the movie. Jamie Foxx as Max Dillon looked like overkill to me, but they found a way to make his motivation work very well. He’s basically a Spider-Man fanboy who’s almost infatuated to the point of being a stalker. Jamie Foxx is adorable in the role. Yes I said adorable. Max is so earnest you just want to give him a big hug. He’s incredibly sympathetic because he reminds you of a guy you know who meant well and wouldn’t hurt a fly, but is incredibly awkward and hard to have a conversation with. From the trailer I thought Harry Osborn was just a sneering jerk who’d go after Spider-Man for no real reason. As it happens, his motivation makes plenty of sense and he’s actually a pretty reasonable guy, all things considered. The writers said at one point they wanted to make all the villains likable and while at first I was infuriated by this, so far they’re doing a damn good job.
It’s more entertaining
The first movie moved at an incredibly slow pace. The sequel has a pace that isn’t breakneck but it moves a lot faster and generally there’s something important going on in every scene. There’s not really any drag and while there’s not as much action what there is is a little more entertaining then the first one. Overall, the film moving at a brisker pace made the length feel shorter than it was.
There is much less comedy in this movie than its predecessor. What’s here isn’t all that humorous but I rolled my eyes way less than I did during the first one. What passed as comedy in the first movie was Andrew Garfield struggling and stuttering to make unfunny lines funny. Such comedic gems as ” You mother hubbard”. Even worse, the jokes hurt the believability of the scenes. Peter catches a football without looking, and then tosses it and it hits a goal post and bends it. Now I’m supposed to believe that none of the cheerleaders nor football players would’ve found that odd? This one manages to leave a lot of throwaway gags in the trash where they belong for a bit more character-based comedy.
Peter Parker is a lot more likable
In the first movie I found Peter Parker to be an incredibly bland protagonist. I suppose by making him an ordinary teenager they’re trying to appeal to today’s youth, but he just came off as a jerk. Not an entertaining jerk, just incredibly ordinary. And when the movie tried to make him charming it was by having Garfield stutter and mumble, or as I like to call it, Shia Labeoufing. Peter is a lot more down to earth and likable here. He has more to do than just mope around. His interactions with Gwen (Emma Stone) and Aunt May (Sally Field) are written a lot better than they were in the first movie, and he seems more developed.
The acting is better
The Amazing Spider-Man really felt like a CW movie. I know all of these actors can act and have done so in other movies, so I have to pin the blame on the writing and dialogue for making them seem like amateurs. In the sequel everyone gets a chance to show off their acting chops and it actually makes sense. Having better motivation leads to more believability, which in turn leads to better performances. Emma Stone as Gwen Stacy and Jamie Foxx as Max Dillon really are the stand out performances.
And now for the negatives…