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Overall Rating

Awesome: 2.22%
Worth A Look: 4.44%
Just Average: 22.22%
Pretty Crappy: 33.33%

5 reviews, 15 user ratings

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Amazing Spider-Man 2, The
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by Peter Sobczynski

"My Nadir Sense Is Tingling!"
1 stars

Long, long ago in the faraway period of time known as 2004, "Spider-Man 2" hit theaters and was instantly hailed as one of the best superhero movies ever made by both the loyal fanboy contingent that had made the previous (and fairly mediocre) cinematic outing of everyone's second-favorite web-slinger (following Charlotte, of course) and by those who wouldn't ordinarily turn out to see a film involving becostumed oddballs pounding the crap out of one another. That was because the film, in a startling break from most offerings of its type, dared to provide viewers with a movie that supplied all the expected flashy action as well as a storyline with a clean dramatic arc, nicely developed characters and recognizable emotional underpinnings. The result was not just a great comic-book movie but a great piece of pop entertainment that still holds up amazingly well today.

Flash-forward a decade and "The Amazing Spider-Man 2," the sequel to the 2012 reboot brought on by Sony preferring to go cheap rather than pay huge salaries to the key players from the original films, has arrived and while it may be the furthest thing from amazing, it is definitely full of Number Two, if you know what I mean. Sure, the previous film was fairly awful but at least it was eminently forgettable--by once again covering the origin myth that had been thoroughly covered only a few years earlier, it only underlined its own superfluousness. This one, on the other hand, is so crummy that the scars that it inflicts on viewers will linger for a long time to come and if it were to unite fanatics and outsiders in the way that "Spider-Man 2" did, it would only be in making both groups nostalgic for that time when Hollywood couldn't get a Spidey project off the ground to save its life. In fact, I would refer to it as the "Batman & Robin" of the Spider-Man franchise if not for the fact that it is so crappy that I suspect that people will soon refer to "Batman & Robin" as the "Amazing Spider-Man 2" of the Batman series.

Following a perfunctory prologue shedding a little more light into the mysterious demise of his parents, the film opens with Peter Parker (Andrew Garfield) cheerfully swooping through the skies to help the New York City police capture a seemingly endless barrage of colorful criminals, in this case a Russian gangster (Paul Giamatti) with a truck full of stolen plutonium while simultaneously fielding phone calls from on-again/off-again girlfriend Gwen Stacy (Emma Stone). Although cocky enough to have the "Spider-Man" theme song as his ring tone, he is still troubled by the lies that he has to tell to his beloved Aunt May (Sally Field) in order to maintain his secret and the promise that he made to Gwen's dying father (Denis Leary) to stay away from her in order to protect her from harm. Alas, Peter is too much in love with her to give her up and is now literally haunted by his ghost who turns up everywhere to offer a silent reproach to his heroics. That's right--"The Amazing Spider-Man 2" brings legendary motormouth Denis Leary into the fold and then gives him a part in which he literally has nothing to say. Even more shocking is the fact that if I were to make up a list of the film's most glaring flaws, that would probably not even crack the Top 10.

Every great superhero film needs a great super-villain but in this case, we are stuck with Max Dillon (Jamie Foxx), a nebbishy and eternally forgettable electrician at the omnipresent OsCorp conglomerate who is rescued by Spider-Man and becomes an obsessed fan of the web-slinger as a result. Alas, the next time the two meet, Max flies into a murderous and destructive rage when he becomes convinced that Spidey has no memory of him. To be scrupulously fair to Spider-Man, Max has gone through a few changes in the interim. Following an industrial accident involving a loose cable, several enormous electric eels and clumsiness of Jerry Lewis-sized proportions, he has been transformed into an energy-sucking behemoth known as Electro. Yes, an entity that looks like a refugee from one of the Joel Schumacher "Batman" movies and acts like Rupert Pupkin--that is the super-villain that our hero has been put up against this time around.

Working on the assumption that quantity trumps quality, the film offers up yet another villain in the form of Harry Osborn (Dane DeHaan), Peter's childhood friend and the new chairman of Oscorp following the recent death of his father. As it turns out, Harry is suffering from a rare and debilitating disease that is part of the inheritance from his estranged father (Chris Cooper) and becomes convinced that only Spider-Man's blood can cure him. When Peter, disguised as Spider-Man, turns down Harry's request for a donation, he is forced to turn to some of the enhanced spider venom that both his dad and Peter's worked on as a possible cure instead. Amazingly, it all goes bad and Harry winds up turning into the nefarious Green Goblin and, with the assistance of Electro, vows to destroy both Spider-Man and Peter for good with Gwen inevitably getting swept up in the third-act mayhem as well.

Although they have all been enormous financial successes so far, the "Spider-Man" franchise has not exactly been an artistic triumph--with the exception of the aforementioned "Spider-Man 2," they have pretty much covered the gamut from mediocre to bad--but with "The Amazing Spider-Man 2," the series has officially hit rock-bottom. The screenplay, put together by four credited writers (including Alex Kurtzman and Roberto Orci, whose names are now pretty much a warning sign for most discerning genre buffs), is an utter mess that seems to have been slapped together almost at random in order to satisfy a target date over any artistic concerns. The villains are unforgivably weak--Electro is one of the weakest bad guys the superhero film genre has ever seen while the Green Goblin, who appears to have been shoehorned in so as to give audiences a familiar rictus, appears far too late in the proceedings to make much of a difference. Too much time is spent on Peter investigating what happened to his parents without offering anything new in that regard other than the appearance of a secret lab so ridiculous that it seems to be straight out of the parody version. All that the addition of this unnecessary material does is bloat the running time to an unspeakable 140 minutes while taking away from the Peter-Gwen relationship that should have been at the heart of the story.

What is really aggravating is how the film attempts to follow in the footsteps of the Christopher Nolan "Batman" films by adding serious-minded elements to an inherently ridiculous premise but makes a complete botch out of it. Right from the start, the film tries to make the point that it increasingly dark times, we need heroes more than ever who are able to plow through their own tragedies in order to help make the world a better place no matter what the cost. Fine, except that once the film establishes that idea, it mostly tosses it away in order to bring in the glib repartee, self-conscious in-jokes (including the inevitable Stan Lee cameo) and overblown action nonsense of the sort that one might more readily associate with the depravations that Joel Schumacher wrought upon the "Batman" franchise.

Then, in a last-minute effort to bring a sense of gravitas to the story, the film proceeds to borrow one of the most infamous developments in the entire Spider-Man saga (one so well-known that even a non-comic-book-reader like myself was familiar with it) and not only handles it badly but then compounds the error by following this dark moment with some goofiness involving Paul Giamatti running amok in a giant mechanical rhino suit so that audiences don't feel bummed out or anything. They may not but I suspect that longtime comic book fans are going to be more than a little annoyed with how cavalierly this aspect is handled, though they may be too annoyed with everything else on display for it to stand out that much.

When it was announced that Marc Webb, the director of the indie romantic comedy "(500) Days Of Summer," had been hired to helm "The Amazing Spider-Man" a couple of years ago, no one could figure out what it was about him, other than a quote slightly lower than Sam Raimi's, that could have possibly suggested to Sony that he was the right guy for the job and there was nothing in the resulting film that suggested a heretofore unknown flair for large-scale filmmaking. Nevertheless, he was brought back for this one and I am still at a loss as to why the franchise has been put in his hands since he still shows little aptitude for this type of storytelling.

Oh, he tries to tap his inner Michael Bay in the action scenes but they are for the most part ungainly and oftentimes garish messes with little in the way of genuine visual flair or kinetic momentum--they just go on and on and only rarely do viewers get any idea of who is doing what to whom and where they are in relation to each other at any given time. More disastrously, there is no joy or excitement to be had anywhere--even the scenes of Spidey hurtling through the streets that were once so exhilarating are now frankly kind of boring.

The one thing about "The Amazing Spider-Man" that kind of worked was the undeniable on-screen chemistry on display between Andrew Garfield and Emma Stone--their scenes together managed to generate a little bit of pop while everything else fizzled around them. This time around, the film inexplicably goes out of its way to divest itself of its one strong asset by keeping the two apart for long stretches of screen time and when they do find themselves together, they are forced into painfully uninteresting conflicts about where their relationship is going--she is torn between staying with him and going off to study at Oxford while he is torn between being with her and worrying about her being in constant danger from one goofball bad guy after another.

That said, they still play well off of each other when they get a chance. On their own, Garfield's flipper, hipper attitude does get a little grating while the always-wonderful Stone is stuck playing a character whose sole purpose is to be jerked around by the machinations of the plot. Still, both come off better than Jamie Foxx, whose work as Max Dillon/Electro is so embarrassingly shallow and one-note that it is impossible to take him seriously as a bad guy, or Dane DeHaan, whose performance is little more than a rehash of his somewhat similar turn in "Chronicle."

Look, I understand that I am not necessarily the person you immediately want to go to for an opinion on a superhero movie because of my often-stated antipathy towards the genre as a whole. And yet, even after factoring out all of my prejudices, "The Amazing Spider-Man 2" is so boring and creatively bankrupt that when it was over, I wanted to go back and add another star to my review of "Captain America: The Winter Soldier." That was a film that I didn't think ultimately worked in the end, largely because the final reels were the usual collection of chases, shootouts and explosions, but for the most part, it was an ambitious effort that was a marked improvement on the original--in other words, it tried to be a better movie rather than simply marking time.

"The Amazing Spider-Man 2," on the other hand, is so lazy and ineffectual that it betrays a certain contempt for its core audience--since they will show up no matter what, the filmmakers seem to be saying, why bother to put in anything resembling an effort since the end result will be the same? There is only one bit of good news to be had here and that is in the fact that this is the film that is kicking off this year's summer movie derby--by starting off the season on such a pathetically low note, nearly all of the subsequent releases will almost have to be better by comparison. Well, at least I hope so or it is going to be one long, not-so-hot summer.

link directly to this review at https://www.hollywoodbitchslap.com/review.php?movie=25867&reviewer=389
originally posted: 05/01/14 14:39:30
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User Comments

3/28/16 Aj wales No1 was missing something no2 has way too much. Electro no reason to be evil. Awful. 2 stars
10/10/15 Dr.Lao The uneeded subplont about Parker's parents dragged down an otherwise pretty good movie 3 stars
5/04/15 Jack Simply the worst of all the spider-man films. 1 stars
9/02/14 Jeff Not bad at all 4 stars
8/06/14 Albert Valentin Not a bad sequel, but wished they saved the Goblin for Part 3 3 stars
7/01/14 State-of-the-art superhero flick formula Heroes not particularly likable; Victims of circumstance inevitably become archvillains. 1 stars
7/01/14 I guess ES declined a role in next sequel How long can superhero genre prolong contorting itself to death? 1 stars
6/17/14 Heather Vole Must be computer-programmed to be as consistently painful as possible 1 stars
5/15/14 SID RUMKOWSKI Along came a spider man and sat down on a Hollywood hostess twinkie 2 stars
5/09/14 Toni Peluso The cardinal sin... boring. Plus Spidey is a douche. Pretty CGI though. 2 stars
5/08/14 Richard Brandt I don't know how snagged Young Leo DiCaprio, but what a lot of anguished youth on display 3 stars
5/04/14 Wzomwmxb In today's workshop it was all mom & pop shops. Once a Tsunami reaches shallow water., <a h 4 stars
5/03/14 mr.mike Passable Spidey flick. 3 stars
5/01/14 Mr Ed Complete bore; painful dialogue; walked out 1 stars
5/01/14 Donavon Bray I've been a lifelong Spider-Man fan. This is the best film version to date. 5 stars
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  02-May-2014 (PG-13)
  DVD: 19-Aug-2014


  DVD: 19-Aug-2014

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