This review contains MILD SPOILERS.
Well, I'll say this much for Amazing Spider-Man 2. It managed to do what I considered to be impossible. It made me yearn for Sam Raimi and Tobey Maguire to return to the franchise.
Okay, I'm exaggerating a bit. I wasn't a huge fan of the Raimi trilogy and I'm including Raimi's Spider-Man 2 which some have labeled one of the best superhero movies ever. The plots didn't grab me and Maguire seemed like a lost puppy dog. But at least his Peter Parker had a sweet innocence about him which contrasted with his alter-ego. Andrew Garfield's Peter Parker is kind of a dick. Put it this way, in the screening I attended, there was a promo with Garfield and Stone right before the movie, where they inform us that we can go upgrade our ticket for a few extra bucks to be first in line for the Blu-Ray. Before I go further, let me say if this had appeared after the film was over, I would've told the both of them to do something to themselves that rhymes with 'cluck,' as in huge turkey, as in this movie. Even in the promo, Garfield comes off as a smug jerk. Which makes me wonder how much he's acting in this film. He's full of annoying tics, head-swaying and bobbing…he comes off as either a total spaz or a drunk.
Amazing Spider-Man 2 manages to leap frog past the original Spider-Man 2 and jumps right into committing all the errors that Spider-Man 3 did. Multiple convoluted subplots--I'm still not clear why Parker's parents were on the run and why they felt it necessary to abandon their only child. I know what the script wants me to swallow, but I didn't buy it--multiple villains crammed in to the storyline and forced into unlikely alliances, cartoonish and underdeveloped characters--SCREECH, let's apply the brakes for a second and delve into this.
Only a masterful screenwriter could successfully convince me that a character whom I've met all of a few minutes onscreen is Peter Parker's best friend from childhood. And the three credited writers on this film are not masters. Well, one of the writers is Roberto Orci, who's responsible for the original Transformers and last year's worst film, Star Trek: Into Darkness. Rather than make an attempt to set up the relationship between Parker and Harry Osborn in the opening scene (which should've taken place in the first film), they devote the first five minutes to a fight scene involving Parker's parents. Subsequently, there's nothing substantial in this film that requires all the opening exposition centered on the parents that couldn't have been accomplished with a couple throwaway lines. Then you have Gwen Stacy, who is ingeniously written as an employee of Oscorp. Quelle coincidence! She's also written as smarter than Peter Parker in the science department. Huh? You have Max Dillon, who is written first as a cartoon character (with a cartoonish soundtrack set behind him as well), then once he gains his powers, he becomes a two-dimensional lackey to Harry Osborn, who becomes the Green Goblin, in a sequence that has the same tacked-on feeling as Venom had in Spider-Man 3. The Rhino is not even worth mentioning. If you were unhappy with the denouement of Liam Neeson's The Grey (2011), the Rhino's appearance will provide you with unhappy memories. The Rhino's only raison-d'etre is to provide a bridge to upcoming Sony comic book movie releases.
But let me return to Andrew Garfield. Whenever he's onscreen as Parker, whomever else is onscreen with him acts rings around him. Emma Stone, Dane Dehaan (who I believe is an actor to keep your eye on), and especially Sally Field all mop up the floor with him. Garfield, whom I thought was excellent in The Social Network, is simply annoying. What I saw as quirky, or as a different take on Peter Parker in the first film comes off as asshole-ish in this film. You hear from some actors how they studied the movements of a character or animal in order to nail the character perfectly. Garfield slacked off on his studies. He is not convincing when he appears in practical shots wearing the costume. He looks like any other human being in the costume as opposed to looking like a man who moves like a spider, as the character does in the books.
This is a Spider-Man film where a character breaks free of Spidey's webbing with a pair of scissors. A film where a powerful godlike villain is inexplicably defeated by some kind of generic power beam. Where Oscorp is established as being the source of all Spider-Man's future foes. Where I suppose Oscorp is involved in genetic manipulation, yet Paul Giamatti's Rhino wears a battle suit (so is Oscorp into genetic study or battle tech?). Where we're supposed to believe Max Dillon single-handedly designed the entire power grid for New York City, only to have it stolen by Oscorp--wait, Oscorp is a power utility too? Where Peter pushes Gwen away, then stalks her and whines when she prepares to study at Oxford (note that Woody Allen did this 35 years ago in Manhattan) . Where Gwen Stacy breaks bad and schools Spider-Man (who in the comics is a top-notch science student) on his web shooters. Where the writers use Gwen in a ridiculous fashion to move the plot along to a shocking climax (no pun intended--I say shocking, but the only emotion I felt at this point was nonchalance). This is a film where scenes which seem like set ups have no pay off. And finally, I imagine the Blu-Ray will not contain any additional or extended scenes because at two and a half hours, I believe the cutting room floor where this was edited was clean enough to eat off of. Meaning there was nothing left out and there was so much that should have been. All this to say the movie is full of potholes and plot devices that exist simply to get from point A to point B, unconvincing characterizations and motivations, and overlong uninteresting scenes.
To add insult to injury, the end credit sequence doesn't even involve Spider-Man. It's a truncated scene from X-Men: Days Of Future Past that has no connection to Spider-Man whatsoever. So, are the producers suggesting they're so clueless about the direction of the Spider-Man franchise, they weren't prepared with a proper credit sequence to whet our appetites for Amazing Spider-Man 3, to which Garfield is already committed? Or maybe the geniuses behind this film didn't realize the scene with the Rhino was actually the scene they should've used for the credits given that was all it was worth?
If ever there was a movie that's not worth seeing but I know you're going to see anyway, it's this one. But at least take this advice: don't waste your money on the 3D. Paying $13 for the 3D matinee would be like throwing salt into a big, wide, gaping pus-filled wound. 2/5 reels
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