The Amazing Spider-Man 2 was always going to be an interesting movie. After the success of its predecessor Sony’s eyes fixed on The Avengers and their own dreams of world domination and upon hearing of this movie’s cast everyone assumed that the sequel would be their attempt to catch up to a battle won so long ago I think I studied it at school. That will have to wait until next time though, as Sony are not quite as stupid as DC and have decided to play the waiting game with one of the most conflicted films I’ve ever seen.
There are four plots in this film (not at all reminiscent of Spider-Man 3), which are:
- Jamie Foxx, a walking nerd stereotype who becomes obsessed with Spider-Man after he says Hi to him once, is the victim of improper health and safety procedures and after a soak in an electric eel tank with a power cable (which will in no way inspire kids to take a bath with Mr Toaster) becomes a being with the power of spontaneously growing underwear to ruin his Dr Manhattan references. He seeks revenge on Spidey as he thinks he set him up for a police ambush.
- Harry Osborn, Peter’s never-before-mentioned childhood friend, returns to New York as his dad passes away from MacGregor’s Syndrome to find that he has inherited it and doesn’t have long to live. Despite his dad taking forty-five years to die from the condition Harry appears to start rotting the second he enters New York and becomes convinced that Spider-Man’s blood will cure him. Peter refuses (because he thinks Harry will just drink the stuff for some reason) and so Harry swears vengeance.
- Gwen Stacey’s relationship with Peter becomes strained when she gets a scholarship to Oxford University.
- Mephisto appears and offers to save Aunt May in exchange for Peter and Gwen’s- nah, just kidding.
- The film occasionally cuts to Peter looking for his late dad’s research. This doesn’t really go anywhere.
To the film’s credit there is a overarching theme of abandonment to all this: John Hinckley Jr feels like Spider-Man abandoned him, Harry was sent away by his father and feels that Peter betrayed him by not getting Spidey to donate his blood, Gwen and Peter are moving away from each other and Peter’s dad died when he was young. It really is a credit to Mark Webb (insert joke here) that this film is even comprehensible, but the tone swings wildly from scene to scene. One moment you’ll have serious drama in the vein of the previous film and then the kind of camp that hasn’t been seen in this genre since Schumacher broke the bat. The ending is particularly jarring, as you go from genuinely moving drama to sequel set up back to drama again and then to comedy in the space of five minutes. There isn’t much of a defined structure here either, the film cuts between the four of them arbitrarily and the climax feels rushed to cram in both villains.
Individually most of this film’s scenes work. The campy fun parts are fun and campy and the drama well-played, with the cast remaining this series’ greatest asset. Garfield and
lasagne Stone have great chemistry and Dane Dehaan makes an intriguing Harry Osborn who I wish had gotten more screen time to develop properly. When the scenes fail however, they quickly becomes hysterical. Peter’s repeated hallucinations of Gwen’s father glaring at him are ham-fisted to the point where every joke I come up with is just too easy, Foxx’s ‘what have I become’ face is like a cross between Jon Osterman and a guppy fish and when the Green Goblin finally turns up in all his splendour he resembles a deformed Tinker-Bell riding the finest in Mattel transportation.
When put together, the plot of this film is an utter mess with holes wide enough to fit Manhattan through, my favourite being when terminally ill rich kid Harry suddenly turns into Solid Snake for five minutes. The biggest problem is that it is vastly overstuffed and the screenplay is in dire need of pruning, starting with Electro, who is neither very interesting nor all that vital to the plot. Although I suppose this is what you get from a rewrite by the people behind Into Darkness. Upon watching the finished film it is also very clear that Mary Jane’s cameo was cut for time, rather than animosity toward the actress as at 142 minutes this film barely covers everything that made the final cut. Action-wise the film is decent, bar the opening plane fight which is the beginning of The Dark Knight Rises if you stole Wally Pfister’s epilepsy medication, as well as the stubborn insistence of the electricity to obey the speed limit. Overall, I don’t think I’d call this movie bad but it’s too jumbled and uneven to rise about just being okay, and there are definitely worse things to spend your money on right now coughTranscendencecough.