Peter Parker runs the gauntlet as the mysterious company Oscorp sends up a slew of supervillains against him, impacting on his life.
Spiderman returns to cinemas with the latest film from Marc Webb in the Amazing Spiderman series, Webb’s first Spiderman film was released in 2012 after which production began almost immediately on this sequel. With the first film out of the way this time around Webb has the opportunity to progress the character’s story arc beyond his origin and to tap into the wider Spiderman mythos. Amazing Spiderman 2 attempts to do this but ultimately proves far too ambitious for its own good.
The screenplay from writers Alex Kurtzman, Roberto Orci and Jeff Pinkner introduces a number of new characters into the series while also focusing on fleshing out the relationships already established in the first film between Peter Parker, his missing parents, and of course Gwen Stacey. While none of the ideas explored here are poor choices for a Spidey film, there are simply too many sub-plots, and an overly confused main plot for the film to be compelling or even particularly logical. With little time for strong plot development the major story payoffs consistently miss their mark culminating into a messy film with little lasting impact.
Amazing Spiderman 2 invests its opening act into building up its supposedly central villain in the form of Electro, only to drop this thread for long stretches of the film while it focuses its efforts on Harry Osborn or the Peter/Gwen relationship. In fact despite his prominence in the marketing campaign Electro is never really depicted in any meaningful way, despite some small characterisation initially (which echoes superhero films of the 90’s) his motivations are never explored to any level of satisfaction or substances leaving the character pretty shallow and acting without much reason or motivation.
Despite feeling somewhat disjointed, Peter’s relationship with Gwen receives a significant amount of attention, Marc Webb makes good use of Andrew Garfield and Emma Stone’s onscreen chemistry and this is where the film is at its strongest. The relationship between Peter Parker and Harry Osborne is unfortunately flimsy at best, the pair hint at a history of friendship that the audience has never seen while giving the characters just a few scenes to re-establish a closeness and strong foundation from which to launch dramatic scenes in the final act. This ends up feeling far too superficial to genuinely capitalise on the pair’s friendship, it’s a story worthy of an entire film but here it’s rushed through seeding the path for future spin-off films as part of Sony’s planned Spiderman cinematic universe.
Other than poor balancing of characters and a confused narrative the story of the film barely holds things together as (without going into spoilers) by the third act it feel more akin to a video game depicting Spiderman working his way through various levels and boss fights rather than a cohesive and fluid plot. The film boasts high production values, with great costumes and excellent looking set pieces, packed full of CG effects there are some entertaining visual sequences and exhilarating action scenes with dynamic camera work that looks great.
Andrew Garfield and Emma Stone both give solid performances working well on their own and opposite each other, Jamie Foxx is a great actor but here is just relegated to a familiar feeling origin story spread across a few scenes followed by mostly pointless action sequences for the remainder of the film.
Dane DeHaan is a lost opportunity here, he shows a lot of potential as Harry Osborne but simply isn’t fleshed out as much as he should be, his arc is far too rushed which is a shame because the potential was there to create some great drama between him and Andrew Garfield but instead it was compressed in an effort to rush events to a point where Spiderman has an established cinematic rogues gallery to draw upon in future films.
Overall I found Amazing Spiderman 2 to be a disappointment, there are two or three genuinely strong emotional moments that shine through, but everywhere else the film feels like a disjointed and compressed mess that knows what it wants to achieve, but has no plan for getting there. It’s just trying to do too much and consequently doesn’t do any of it particularly effectively. The score is lacklustre with a few inspired moments in the final act, for those just wanting some visual eye candy there’s definitely plenty on display here and the utilisation of 3D is solid if you like that sort of thing.
I’m giving the film 4 out of 10 stars, it’s in cinemas around Australia from Thursday 17th April 2014.