Movie Review - The Amazing Spider-Man 2

I'm glad Campbell Scott who plays Richard Parker, the father of Peter Parker aka Spider-Man, got an action scene, but that action scene, which opens the film was unnecessary. It conveys no real, significant information that we don't get later in the film.

The following scene in which we first see Spider-Man ups the ante from the previous film of the level of humor at play. That level is set for ridiculously over-the-top. The wisecracks and the slapstick have all been increased. Spider-Man is literally juggling nuclear canisters as if he's in a Popeye or Looney Tunes cartoon.

Andrew Garfield (The Social Network and Never Let Me Go) reprises his role as Peter Parker, the high school student and aspiring photographer who was bitten by a genetically-enhanced spider in a science lab and gained spider-like, super powers. He now dresses up in a red and blue, body suit and mask calling himself Spider-Man.

Emma Stone (Easy A and The Help) reprises her role as Gwen Stacy, the high school student and aspiring scientist who works for Oscorp, the company that houses the science lab that created the special spiders. She's the only one who knows Peter is Spider-Man, and obviously she's in love with him.

In the previous film, her father, played by Denis Leary, was a cop who died. Leary was an interesting presence, but this film has him appear as a ghost to Peter, reminding him of the danger he poses to Gwen. His ghost appearances are silly and again unnecessary. At least, Peter's dead father got something to do. Gwen's dead father basically just stands there and says nothing.

I get the point of having Leary, but that point is basically made in dialogue and in Garfield's performance. The film runs too long and Leary is fat that could have been trimmed. What also could have been trimmed is the constant back-and-forth between Peter and Gwen. First, they break up, then they get together, then they break up again. It feels like they go back-and-forth a million times. It got repetitive and boring.

Oscar-winner Jamie Foxx (Ray and Dreamgirls) plays Max Dillon, a technician at Oscorp who is shy and introverted, but obsessive about Spider-Man. Foxx is basically playing the same character as Jim Carrey in Batman Forever (1995). It literally is the same. Except, instead of being a vehicle to unleash Foxx's comedic side or crazy personality that would behoove a Looney Tunes cartoon, it's merely a vehicle for crazy special effects, muting any kind of substantial performance from Foxx.

Foxx plays one of two villains but of the two, Max's transformation is the one treated with the least amount of seriousness and the maximum amount of comic book cliche. Dane DeHaan plays Harry Osborn, the childhood friend of Peter and second of the two villains. DeHaan's evil origin story and transformation in Chronicle (2012) was a lot better realized than here, but at least the one here didn't literally fall into the same rote trappings as Foxx's.

Garfiend and DeHaan had good chemistry. All their scenes together felt more organic and personal than those of Tobey Maguire and James Franco who were the two actors to inhabit the same roles in the Sam Raimi films. Given Garfield's comments about a gay Spider-Man and given DeHaan's previous role in Kill Your Darlings (2013), at some points I thought Peter and Harry might hook up.

It could be just be my affection for both actors. It could also be my affection for Garfield and Sally Field who reprises her role as Peter Parker's surrogate mother Aunt May that makes me think that Garfield and Field have great chemistry too. The running gag between the pair is each has a secret they're keeping from the other, and thankfully, director Marc Webb gives Field a lot more to do than Raimi gave Rosemary Harris. Or, at least, Aunt May got to be more than a damsel in distress. Field even got a callback to her time on the NBC series ER.

I'm not sure the 3D effects this time around did much to put the audience any more into Spider-Man's shoes, particularly as he's swinging through New York City. Yet, one advancement in the CGI comes in how Max aka Electro was rendered on screen. Even though Electro looks like Dr. Manhattan from The Watchmen (2007), the CGI advancement has given Electro underwear, as Sony Pictures probably wanted to keep the rating down by not showing Foxx's penis.

Of course, I have time to think about the clothing options for a man who can turn into electricity because the character development from Max to Electro occurs so awkwardly and his motivation and emotions swing like a pendulum from one extreme to another. There is nothing in between. I suppose when juggling multiple villains that something like this is to be expected. It's simply not all that satisfying.

Two Stars out of Five.
Rated PG-13 for sequences of sci-fi action/violence.
Running Time: 2 hrs. and 21 mins.


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