19 May 2014

The Amazing Spider-Man 2 Review (Spoiler Warning)

When I saw the first Amazing Spider-Man film 2 years ago, I was pleasantly surprised. All of the trailers made me think the film would be awful but a strong cast and a decent script helped make the film pretty good. The Amazing Spider-Man was not the film I thought was going to be released based on how bad the trailers were, they saved all of that for The Amazing Spider-Man 2. This is a pretty bad film and easily the worst of all the Spider-Man films made so far (yes, including Spider-Man 3, which is nowhere near as bad as everyone says it is).
The plot of the film focuses on how Peter Parker has adapted to life as Spider-Man and the impact that his decision to stay with Gwen at the end of the last film has had, with Peter seeing visions of George Stacey, making him feel intense guilt over his decision. Along with this, Peter is also working to discover why his parents left him relating back to Oscorp and the re-appearance of Harry Osborne in Peter's life and the creation of a new supervillain with Electro. Now one of the major problems is that there is way too much going on in the film and as such a lot of elements have had to be cut down or removed entirely that were seen in the trailers. The major example being that the trailers showed a plot concerning Oscorp watching Peter that is completely missing from the film. This means that the whole flow of the film doesn't work and things just happen with no real importance to the plot, instead just setting up the next scene with a lot of important character moments not being elaborated on. For example, a big deal is made at the start over Aunt May learning to become a nurse but this doesn't amount to much in the overall plot of the film and could have been cut out. There is also an issue regarding Peter's parents and Uncle Ben, simply put, the stuff with Peter's parents isn't interesting and it takes attention away from the relationship between Peter and Uncle Ben and the impact his death has had which should have had more focus, hell we still haven't found out whether or not Uncle Ben's killer was caught and taking attention away from Uncle Ben shows that the writers do not understand Spider-Man at all. Along with this is the fact that only Peter could have become Spider-Man, removing the central idea behind Spider-Man that what happened to Peter was a complete accident.

The biggest problem with the plot though comes with the villains. For starters, Electro could have been cut out of the film and nothing would have been lost aside from some action scenes. If they made Electro a more sympathetic villain and tied him more into Peter, then he could have worked but the way it's handled in the film makes him so generic, the music does a better job of explaining his motivation than the script does. It also feels like we are encouraged to laugh at Max Dillon before he becomes Electro and that feels a bit wrong since there is clearly something wrong with him. Plus, the origin story given for Max becoming Electro is incredibly stupid, bitten by electric eels that power the Oscorp building is incredibly ridiculous and him coming up with his own name doesn't work as there is nothing to indicate that he would choose Electro as his name. Then there's Harry Osborne. Firstly, having him appear and become the Green Goblin in the same film doesn't work on a character level as we don't get enough time to know him and understand why he's so important to Peter before he becomes the Goblin. Then there is the whole reason for him becoming the Goblin. He wants to cure himself of a hereditary disease that he believes will kill him shortly, but we clearly see that Norman Osborne has lived into his sixties so Harry didn't need to rush. Plus, Peter refusing to give Harry his blood doesn't work. Whilst he does say that something bad can happen, he could simply request that Harry research the blood before he gives it over to make sure that it will work.

The main thing that prevents the film from being truly terrible though is the main cast. Andrew Garfield is excellent as Spider-Man, showing a clear confidence in the role and him doing the wise-cracking Spider-Man really works due to Garfield's delivery. It also helps that Garfield has brilliant chemistry with Emma Stone who also gives a great performance, despite everything that made the character interesting in the first film being removed in this one. Sally Field as Aunt May is great, showing the love that she has for Peter whilst also being worried about what will happen to her and Peter due to Uncle Ben being gone. However, the villains again present problems. Dane DeHaan does a really good job playing Harry Osborne early on in the film and he works really well with Garfield but when he becomes the Goblin, his performance is terrible, going way too over the top. But, with how over the top DeHaan gets later on, it is nothing compared to Paul Giamatti and Marton Csokas as Rhino and Dr Kafka, Giamatti plays Rhino as a cartoon caricature of a Russian villain ans Csokas is the most stereotypical evil over the top German scientist that has ever been put to screen. Jamie Foxx meanwhile is on the other end of the spectrum. Like DeHaan he does a great job early on showing the problems that Max faces on a day to day basis but when he becomes Electro he becomes really boring and again, the music for Electro gives him more personality than the script and the performance.

The technical side of the film also provides some of the good points in the film. Firstly, the design of the Spider-Man suit and the direction of the web-slinging and action sequences is really good, showing that Marc Webb has a good eye for action that can serve well later on. Then there is the music by Hans Zimmer which is excellent and gives the film a lot more personality. Of the villains, whilst the design for the Green Goblin is ridiculous, the design of Electro and Rhino are really good and it'll be interesting to see future villain designs.

Now, in order to fully explain my thoughts on the film, I will need to spoil the ending so consider this your spoiler warning, if you don't want to read my thoughts on the ending then skip to the end. Now a lot of problems in the film come from the way the ending is handled. Firstly, the whole ticking clock element with the planes in the Electro fight doesn't work as there are no stakes for any of the main characters and this issue could have been solved if the focus during those parts was on Aunt May in the hospital she works at. Then there's how Harry finds out that Peter is Spider-Man which could have been done better if elements from the trailer were fully included. Having Harry find out through Oscorp surveillance would have provided a much better link between Peter and Oscorp but instead, Harry finds out through Gwen which could have worked if he heard Gwen shouting for Peter (when he's Spider-Man) in the streets, again through Oscorp surveillance. Finally, there's the main problem with the ending, how Gwen Stacey's death is handled. Now the reason it works in the comics is that it is ultimately Peter that kills Gwen through the whiplash of his webs but here, we clearly see Gwen's head hit the ground, indicating that Peter couldn't have saved her, placing more blame on Harry. Plus, the fact that Gwen went to the power plant further absolves Peter of guilt which will limit his character growth in the next film. There's also the question of how Gwen's body was found and how it was explained that she was at the power plant when she should have been at the airport heading to Oxford. This could be expanded on in the next film, especially if J Jonah Jameson is introduced, with Spider-Man being blamed for Gwen's death but I feel this is something that should have been expanded upon here. Instead, the film goes to Peter mourning Gwen's death for months and then to one of the stupidest scenes of the year. We see Paul Giamatti become Rhino for the first time (revealing himself to be the one in the suit in a way that should have got him killed) and instead of the civilians running away from missiles and bullets being fired from the suit instead just watch what happens which means that there's a good possibility that some of them were killed. Plus, the shot of the film should be triumphant but since it's been in all of the trailers then the weight was lost.

Overall, The Amazing Spider-Man 2 is a really bad film. Whilst Andrew Garfield, Emma Stone and Sally Field give great performances and the direction and music are really good, these cannot make up for a terrible script and clear studio meddling to set up sequels and spin-offs, along with what looks like a good chunk of the film seen in the trailers being cut out of the film. Both the scenes in the trailer that weren't in the film, along with the much publicised cutting of Shailene Woodley as Mary Jane indicate that this is a film with no clear vision that was cobbled together without any care put into making a good film. The only care put into this film was to set up more films.

My Rating: 2/5

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