The summer of superhero sequels rages on with Amazing Spider-Man 2. Personally, I would have pushed for the title Spectacular Spider-Man but, surprisingly, I was not involved in the making of this film for asked for my opinion at any juncture. Perhaps for the inevitable 3 entry into the series. Oh, and if you haven’t seen it yet: spoiler alert and read no further.
I will say that this movie delivered exactly what was promised. That is, if you saw the trailers and thought “wow, this movie has a lot of stuff in it, cool” or “ugh, this movie has a lot of stuff in it, gross” then you pretty much are going to get what you expect. It does have way too much going on: too many villains, too many special effects, too much exposition, and runs about 30 minutes too long.
The performances by Emma Stone and Andrew Garfield are the real strength of the movie. The quiet moments between Peter and Gwen are what keeps the movie interesting in-between action scenes that are a cacophonous assault on your senses. Stone’s version of Gwen is brilliant, capable and an asset to Spider-Man in his fight against crime. This, of course, makes her inventible demise all the more tragic. I knew it was coming. I knew what was going to happen as she fell. And yet I was still shocked. In a departure from the comics, Gwen isn’t thrown off a bridge, but is falling through a clock tower as it collapses. Gears and bit of metal crumble around her as she falls, and Spider-Man has a hard time catching her with his webbing. When he finally does Gwen is too close the ground and her head hits the floor with a sickening thud. There was an audible gasp from the audience.
This was the part of the movie that is excellent filmmaking. The tragic end for the character was already known, but the scenes that demonstrate the love between Peter and Gwen make us feel the unfairness of it all. They seem soul mates, destined to be together, only to be ripped apart by Peter’s life as Spider-Man. It is a core aspect of the character. He knows that with great power comes great responsibility and that his inaction before caused the death of Uncle Ben, but he also knows that by saving others as Spider-Man he puts those close to him at risk.
The other performance in the movie are fine. I think a Jaimie Foxx does a pretty good job at Electro, and he even uses an electric Christian Bale Batman voice so that should excite some fans. The real problem is that Electro, Green Goblin, the Rhino, and the mysterious man (probably the Chameleon) seems to be smashed into the movie just because. It looks like a race to get to the Sinister Six. The movie even sets up Alistair Smythe and Felicia Hardy and throw nods to the Vulture and Doc Ock (which really makes 8 villains, but who is counting).
In the end I found myself entertained by the strengths of the film but admit that overall it isn’t very good. The movie isn’t a must see. If you are a Spidey fan you will enjoy the Peter/Gwen storyline, but for the casual viewer looking for popcorn fun this movie might be too much CGI and weird loud music to sit through.