Reviews

The Amazing Spider-Man 2

3

Spinning a Tangled Webb

No two subgenres are currently ruling the worldwide box office more consistently than superhero and young adult. So for all the backtalk about Sony playing bitter second fiddle to Marvel, their rebooted Spider-Man series does have one major advantage over the competition in that it combines both.

It’s the only young adult superhero franchise in the market, and director Marc Webb once again capitalises on the game charms of young stars Andrew Garfield and Emma Stone, dishing out adorable romance in equal measure with web-slinging action. The Amazing Spider-Man 2 feels, in a word, youthful, with all the goofy exuberance and dubious judgement that implies. 

Part and parcel with the teenage lens comes an obsession with parents and what they hand down to their unsuspecting kids. Peter (Garfield) has settled into his Spidey suit but is still haunted by unanswered questions about his parents, who abandoned him in childhood for shadowy reasons unknown. Haunting him too is the ghost of Gwen Stacy’s (Stone) late father, who used his dying breath to warn Peter away from his daughter; this paves the way for some thorny but refreshingly angst-light relationship troubles. 

And then there’s Dane DeHaan’s Harry Osborn, a childhood friend of Peter’s who returns to New York just in time to be handed a poisoned chalice by dying daddy dearest Norman (a malevolent Chris Cooper). Garfield and DeHaan being two of the most compelling actors of their generation, they’re unsurprisingly effective together, and Peter and Harry’s reunion gives the former a welcome edge of normality. Unlike Tobey Maguire’s Peter, there’s no sense here of his attempting to live a normal life post-high school – Spider-Man seems to interact with the real world more than Peter Parker does. 

The bad guys are a clear strong suit in contrast to Webb’s first film; both Harry and Jamie Foxx’s Max Dillon are villains who only become so because the world has so entirely mistreated them. DeHaan plays Harry like a twitchy, anguished coiled spring, every movement and sentence wound tight – it’s a compelling contrast to Garfield’s energy, all loose limbs and heart-on-sleeve emotion. 

There’s real poignancy to Max, too, a nerdy, perpetually overlooked electrical engineer with no friends or family (think Red Dwarf’s Duane Dibley, only doomed) whose obsession with Spider-Man turns nasty after a workplace accident sees him transform into the super-powered, super-pissed Electro. (Even by the standards of evil corporate offices, Oscorp is a health and safety nightmare.)

But it’s hard to shake the sense, given the narrow production window, that the script was rushed into production in less-than-complete form – the fact that Shailene Woodley was cast, filmed and later cut as Mary Jane speaks volumes. Electro becomes superfluous as the increasingly unstable Harry takes centre-stage, and when DeHaan is on screen it’s impossible to look anywhere else. Another reworking of the script could have pared the focus right down to Peter, Harry, Gwen and Oscorp, and in turn cut down the baggy running time by 20 minutes.

But the intention is clear – Sony want their own expanded universe to rival Marvel, since Spidey joining the Avengers will remain the stuff of Garfield and other fans’ dreams. Paul Giamatti’s Rhino and Felicity Jones’s Felicia Hardy are given glorified cameos clearly designed to pay off down the line, in ASM3 or ASM4 or the already-promised Sinister Six spinoff.

What all this means is that the film often seems more focused on franchise-building than storytelling, nowhere more so than in its final few scenes. With Spidey’s quippy wisecracking turned up to 11, Webb seems committed to comedy above all – it’s hard to think of another series that has so effectively used stuntwork as slapstick – which makes for some jarring segues back into darker material.

Stone’s Gwen remains a breath of fresh air for women in comic book movies; she has smarts and spirit and agency without needing to be a quip-slinging badass, and her intuitive chemistry with Garfield remains as much of a joy to watch as it was in 2012. It’s only when the script actively tries for affecting that it falters, bordering on mawkish in some moments with Sally Field’s Aunt May in particular. 

Garfield’s raw and heartfelt performance helps to sell the cheese, but the clunky foreshadowing is harder to swallow – a third act gut punch is telegraphed so blatantly and repeatedly that by the time it arrives, half the impact is gone.

Verdict:

Bright, punchy and earnest, Webb’s affable sequel is tough to dislike despite its tonal whiplash and clumsy script, which is redeemed by Garfield, Stone and DeHaan’s powerhouse trio. 

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Film Details

User Reviews

    • apo1978

      Apr 9th 2014, 15:07

      Had 3 stars written all over it - just like the first one. Pointless.

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    • Ali1748

      Apr 9th 2014, 17:29

      When TF gives a film 3 stars 90% of the time I end up rating the movie 4 stars. We'll see. I am excited for the movie just annoyed at Sony's conveyer belt of trailers.

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    • Ali1748

      Apr 9th 2014, 17:34

      BTW it would be handy if TF put in their reviews for comic book movies whether there's any credit stings or not.

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    • MillerCrosses

      Apr 9th 2014, 20:47

      Isn't Kick a*s young adult?

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    • Ichi1

      Apr 9th 2014, 20:59

      Gee....wonder if my next issue of Total Film will have Spidey on the cover for like what? The 4th or 5th time in the past 9 or so months.

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    • Hadouken76

      Apr 11th 2014, 12:43

      Its been 10 years since the last Spidey 2 (ridiculous to say isn't it?), the one which all other Spidey films have been measured, because it is just pitch perfect. I will reserve judgement on this one until I've seen it, but its doubtful they can surpass the brilliance of Alfred Molina as Doc Oct and that bruising smash up on the building + train.

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    • ERDutra

      Apr 12th 2014, 0:26

      The first movie was so stupid with that scientist transforming into a lizard and back to a human as if he was just changing clothes. Garfield was good as spidey and his relatives were unfortunately misused. I bet from the extended trailer that the best scenes have been shown already and watching the movie would be a disappointment. I hope I'm wrong. But I don't think so.

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    • SammyHQ

      Apr 13th 2014, 19:09

      Wow a Red Dwarf’s Duane Dibley reference… Where did you pull that one out of? LMAO!

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    • matthewbrady

      Apr 18th 2014, 14:35

      3

      We've always known that Spider-Man's most important battle has been within himself: the struggle between the ordinary obligations of Peter Parker and the extraordinary responsibilities of Spider-Man. But in The Amazing Spider-Man 2, Peter Parker finds that a greater conflict lies ahead. It's great to be Spider-Man (Andrew Garfield). This movie is not as good as the first because most of the villains are just there just to push the plot along. The visual effect's in the movie are okay and the green goblin was just wasted in the movie and that was just a shame. The movie wants you to feel for Jamie Foxx character Electro but the movie fails at trying to make us feel for this guy, why can't there have a scene like in the Lego movie when are main hero has to talk to the villain with one of beautiful and the most touching scene is when he tells the villain that he is amazing person and he can do amazing things without being evil. It may not be as good as the first but it's still enjoyable to watch.

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    • endofdays2

      Apr 18th 2014, 15:57

      4

      Just seen this and have to say most of the criticisms are unfounded. Didn't like the first one but this is superb and well worth a watch. Multiple villains works and the running time doesn't feel the 2 hours 20 minutes. Great job and best Spidey film since Spider-Man 2.

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    • Xerqio

      Apr 22nd 2014, 22:17

      2

      I just whatched this movie and i can say it's not even average in quality.Electro is a horible vilain that made no sense whatsoever his motivation to hate Spiderman is a joke.Green Goblin or whatever that was is terible to say the least.They even made their hair look retarded to make them even more a joke than they alredy are.The story has paper thin logic and the events that transpire are all in service to cgi.It was hard to give AMS1 a chance since the rebot was so soon afrer the original trilogy that was way better btw and this movie is even worse.The only good thing about it is Garfeild and Stone and their great chemistry on screen.I'm not saying Spiderman needs Nolan since it was never intended to be a serios comic book but it would do with at least a Micheal Bay so that I can enjoy my explosions and not roll my eyes.

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    • Xerqio

      Apr 22nd 2014, 22:17

      2

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    • Toursiveu

      Apr 22nd 2014, 23:19

      2

      I hated the first film but I was hoping the sequel would improve on it and that they would learn from their mistakes... The Amazing Spider-Man 1 lacked style, excitement and a point of view... it lacked a real director like... yes, Sam Raimi, whose visual style and sense of humour are extremely recognizable. Marc Webb is just a qualified yes-man with little personality. And it shows agin the sequel where all the action scenes look like each other. You're watching the film but you don't EVER feel anything, not even when SPOILER ALERT someone important dies... The only thing I really enjoyed in the film was Dane De Haan's performance as Harry Osborne. Jamie Foxx's character is unlikeable from start to finish. But the worse thing The Amazing Spider-Man 2 does is make Spidey into a b***hy whiny mumbling emo-b***h. I really started to hate the character who seems to come out a Twilight episode... Whether he's mumbling his dialogues to a grimacing and unconvincing Emma Stone or whether he's trying to deliver unfunny one-liners to his adversaries, I found Spidey to be kind of an arrogant a*****e... Any movie that makes you miss Tobey Maguire has serious problems...

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    • 69ragnorak

      Apr 23rd 2014, 12:20

      4

      Thought the 3 leads were terrific. Glad they did the full Gwen Stacey storyline. Electro could have had a better written back story. As reader of Spiderman for 30+ years I though these last 2 films have been very faithful to the feel of the comic. I think the bashing it's getting is from those that never read the comics and the people who have jumped on the Marvel bandwagon recently and expect comic film to be The Avengers. Looking forward to see the next one :)

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    • ilikescifi

      Apr 23rd 2014, 17:03

      2

      it is what Transformers 2 was to Transformers

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    • madeleinecornis

      Apr 24th 2014, 16:37

      do not be fooled by this b*****d, I knew he was just giving a false link, I've watched this film for free here watch The Amazing Spider-Man 2 (2014) full movie hxxp://aooo.la/olyfO you can also download it for free there, I hope this information can be help you ====================================

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    • jacobturnbull

      Apr 27th 2014, 8:05

      5

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    • jacobturnbull

      Apr 27th 2014, 8:05

      5

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    • jacobturnbull

      Apr 27th 2014, 8:05

      5

      im being serious i watched this movie at the movies in 3D and it was AMAZING.they really put alot of detail in the villians made me feel so emotianly sad of max Dilon/electro it made me feel sad for the character that no body liked him but that didnt make the movie bad it made it better.if you dont wont spoliers plz stop reading.spider man was taunting his villians which made me laugh so hard.in a way the gerners were like action,romance,comedy and others.It was so well done i could watch it over and over.The acting was really well done.i was a bit upset that gwen stacey died.thank you for reading this

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    • jacobturnbull

      Apr 27th 2014, 8:05

      5

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      Jun 29th 2014, 6:06

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