Release date: May 2, 2014
Directed by: Mark Webb
Written by: Alex Kurtzman, Roberto Orci, and seven others
Starring: Andrew Garfield, Emma Stone, Jamie Foxx, Dane DeHaan, and Sally Field
The Marvel Cinematic Universe has everyone scrambling to use their own individual super hero movies set up larger stories featuring more and more characters from the comics. A few years back, Sony and Columbia prematurely rebooted the "Spider-Man" franchise rather than see Spidey defaults back to Marvel Studios. Two movies into Marc Webb's trilogy and it all seems pointless.
The problem is that so far, the plot has pretty much been a retread of what Sam Raimi and company did ten years ago. In "Amazing Spider-Man 2", Peter Parker (Andrew Garfield) is confident in his duties as New York's masked vigilante, but he's still haunted by his promise to Gwen Stacy's dad to stay away from her, something he hasn't been able to do. He's still searching for answers surrounding his parents' disappearance, a mystery that continues to point to OsCorp Industries as the main roadblock in his discovery.
If you saw the villain lineup in the trailer and had flashbacks to the nightmare that was "Spider-Man 3", there really isn't much to be said to ease your fears. Jamie Foxx breathes about as much life as he can into a woefully written character named Max Dillon, a loser electrician for OsCorp who suffers a near fatal accident that turns him into the villain Electro. He looks cool on screen, but he's just one branch of a plot that runs all over the place.
Dane DeHaan (Chronicle) joins the cast as Peter's childhood friend Harry Osborn, a relationship that is given the fast track here in order to set up the film's climactic battle that will ultimately act as the springboard into future movies. But even though it's an arc that was covered already in the previous movies, it feels rushed and it never has the impact it needs to be that springboard. Blink and you'll miss Kansas City native Chris Cooper as Harry's father, Norman, who is pretty much just another side note in this chapter.
It's really a shame because Andrew Garfield delivers what may be the best on screen depiction of Spider-Man among any of the five films to date. Sure, he may be too old - Peter graduates from high school in this movie -- but he plays the character with the right balance of cockiness and trepidation. And the Spidey action is top notch this time around. There are scenes where it's almost hypnotic watching him spin and weave and flip and swing through the streets of New York. This is about as close as Sony has come to a definitive Spider-Man performance.
The best thing going so far is the chemistry between Garfield and Emma Stone, who returns for another swing with the web-head. But even they get a little too much focus throughout the middle of this movie, which helps to derail any momentum of excitement that is built up by the eye-popping action sequences. Heck after a while, they just feel like visual overload because there is zero depth to any of the characters or the story, so all the action just feels like noise after a while.
With all of these problems it probably goes without saying that the script is a complete mess. It's no surprise there are nine different writers credited with the screenplay. Movies like "The Avengers" and a couple of Fox's "X-Men" flicks have proven you can take a team of heroes and make a fun movie. So, it's not having too many characters, it's having too many poorly written characters. But "ASM2" is all so all over the place, it's hard to determine what the main driving plot is supposed to be.
It's all magnified by the misguided and sloppy ending, which has at least three -- yes, three climaxes -- including a tacked on extended sequence that is pinch hitting for the typical credits stinger that has come to be expected from the Marvel movies. The scene is solely responsible for completely negating any of the the emotional impact that is left after Spidey's final battle, it stands to reason they tacked in on pre-credits so audiences don't flee from the theatre before seeing the set up for the Sinister Six, a team of super villains who aim to take down the Wall Crawler.
"The Amazing Spider-Man 2" comes very close to being a spectacular Spidey movie. But it's in so much of a hurry to establish the future of the franchise that is fails to realize it's barely able to breathe on its own as it is. It looks amazing, but it's sloppy, overloaded and stale.
Rating: Rated PG-13 for sequences of sci-fi action/violence
Running time: 2 hours 22 minutes