Arriving on Blu-Ray August 19, "The Amazing Spider-Man 2" continues Sony's reboot of the popular franchise. Unfortunately, "ASM 2" is an unwieldy, unfocused mess of a film, with brief moments of invention overwhelmed by the film's scattershot storytelling.
First, the good: Andrew Garfield and Emma Stone have superb chemistry together. Even when the writing of the characters doesn't always live up to the performances, they play off each other tremendously, and sell moments powerfully, even when undercut by the half-baked screenplay. Also, the CGI is outstanding; the leaps and bounds from even 10 years ago is a sight to behold. The opening action sequence is really well done, with Spider-Man pulling off impossible feats in between genuinely fun quips.
But oh, that screenplay. The film feels like a victim of rewrites, every second filled with stuff that happens as the soundtrack blares, yet none of it leaves an impression. The film doesn't tell a story so much as present a series of sequences which occasionally relate to each other. The film's pacing is sluggish to the point of distraction, with one of the dullest second acts in recent blockbuster history. Also, the characterization of Peter Parker is strange; for a guy carrying so much guilt, he seems oddly unfazed, more bummed about his problems with his girlfriend than anything else. The viewer doesn't really feel Parker's "great responsibility."
Similar to Sam Raimi's "Spider-Man 3," the film features several placeholder villains, none of whom are indelible enough to make the stakes feel raised. Jamie Foxx's character gets a full arc, from nebbishy Oscorp employee to the powerful villain Electro, but despite the screen time we spend with Foxx, his subplot feels utterly weightless. It's just another set of scenes in between all the other scenes.
Another question: Why is Paul Giamatti in this? He has a handful of barely intelligible lines in the opening, then abruptly appears at the end, just in time to end the movie. It's utterly pointless, and could have easily been removed. The Blu-Ray provides evidence of the film's production history, containing a whopping 13 deleted scenes. The A/V quality is superb; it's a shame that the end result is so mediocre.
View photos of the cast and crew of "The Amazing Spider-Man 2" in the slideshow above.