The cards stacked against The Amazing Spider-Man are almost impossible for any superhero to overcome. Not only does it have to compete against an overwhelming list of other superheroes hitting the big screen, it also has to compete against itself: the Spider-Man trilogy that just wrapped up 7 years ago.
The first Amazing Spider-Man was about on par with director Sam Raimi‘s first crack at the spidey guy. Both flicks were decent, but not spectacular. Both had solid casts, decent action, but coming second meant that director Mark Webb had to prove that there was a reason to remake this story so soon. He didn’t. Since the Spidey world is presented very much the same in each film (this isn’t a reimagination like going from Tim Burton‘s Gotham City to Christopher Nolan‘s), then it’s hard for The Amazing Spider-Man to differentiate itself.
Well, Webb is giving it a shot again with a sequel, and with its energetic first half an hour, it seems as though he is going to pull off making a more worthy entry. After an explosive opening action sequence (that doesn’t even involve Spider-Man), we are reintroduced to our hero in some spectacular shots as he flies around New York City. I’m not a big fan of 3D, but it looks great here. While in previous films, Peter just looks like a computer-genereated creation in the spider suit, the visual effects are improved, so it looks like an actual person flying through the streets of Manhattan.
Andrew Garfield seems more comfortable in his spidey skin and has a ton of fun with his dialogue and shows a lot of charisma. Garfield and Emma Stone‘s chemistry is even better this time around, and Jamie Foxx is a delight to watch as a bumbling nerdy loner who works for Oscorp. With the strong start, it seems as though, like Spider-Man 2 (which is one of the best superhero movies ever made), The Amazing Spider-Man 2 is going to improve on the original…but then it moves into its second act and it starts to fall apart.
Dane DeHaan is a fantastic actor, but when he shows up with his emo take on Harry Osborn, Peter’s childhood friend who inherits the Oscorp empire, he starts to drain the energy out of the movie. You’ll long for James Franco‘s slimy playboy take on the character. Jamie Foxx’s character Max is electrocuted and falls into a pool of electric eels and turns into Electro. His character may be jolted with electricity, but the event sucks the life out of the character. He becomes a one-note villain. It doesn’t help that the film doesn’t clearly define what Electro’s powers are. He just becomes this entity who’s made up of currents that can shape shift, fly, and throw electricity surges at people. All because he fell into a pool of electricity. Yeah…not clear.
The film leads to a shocking conclusion, but even then it’s just going through the motions. It surprisingly feels like a plot point that the story just needs to get through, instead of an event that is emotionally felt. It’s no fault to the cast though. The script ensures that they still hand Sally Field (playing Peter’s Aunt Mae) an emotional scene worthy of the 2-time Oscar winner. You wish there was more powerful scenes like that.
While it has a fantastic start, The Amazing Spider-Man 2 slowly loses its grip on being a standout addition to the superhero genre. The competition is tough these days (it’s only been a month since we saw Captain America: The Winter Soldier show how to create a superior sequel), and this time around Peter Parker just doesn’t stick the landing.