Sam Raimi’s Spider-Man only came out in 2002 just twelve years ago, and since then there have been four more entries into the series – spanning two different universes at that. Do we really need, or even want, more? Is there still room for the wall-crawler in a much more diverse time for superhero films? I would, whole-heartedly, say no and The Amazing Spider-Man 2 proves that at every chance it gets. Once Peter’s origin story fades out of the way and he becomes a more permanent fixture on the New York Skyline the story starts to sputter and lurches to the finish.
Marc Webb (The Amazing Spider-Man, (500) Days of Summer) is back to direct the sequel to his 2012 superhero debut and is also apparently back for two more announced sequels… Though, I don’t see why. TASM 2 is a business as usual superhero film that doesn’t do anything new and right from the opening credits I’d judge we already knew that. Sadly, this is just how it is going to be for a genre that has a whole slew of protagonists fighting against, more or less, the same evil forces. These films are beginning to feel less like major Hollywood productions and instead more like a crappy game franchise that just re-skins the same game year after year for sales.
This time the wise crackin’, web-slingin’, Spider-Man goes up against a strange smattering of villains that leave you kind of scratching your head as to where they really came from. The main baddy is Electro, played by Jamie Foxx, and he is mad that Spider-Man forgot who he was (literally) – a maladjusted electrical engineer at Oscorp named Max Dillon. Aaaaannndddd that is why he tries to destroy all of New York, I guess he is also mad that Oscorp stole his design for an energy source, but the film doesn’t do a very good job of emotionally investing the audience into this aspect. But Max wasn’t always Electro – oh no he just used to be a nobody until he fell into a vat of water and was bitten into a pulp by genetically altered electric eels. This didn’t kill him of course; instead he turned into a ball of pure electrical energy. Now I can usually gloss over a lot in a movie, you have to, but the scene where Jamie Foxx falls into the tank of water is just stupid. He grabs a live power line and reconnects it to another power line. I know Max is supposed to be the electrical engineer here, but I just don’t think that would be a good idea for anyone to do – I am just a layman though. The story eventually takes us to a dying Harry Osborne, and his transformation into the Green Goblin, and then back to Electro and him teaming up to take down Spider-Man. Oh, Paul Giamatti also plays the Rhino for some reason. Though, his scene feels like they cut him out of the story and had to tack on his footage somewhere. So, they stuck it to the back end of the film and called it a day. This muddied the waters even further for the narrative.
That is pretty much it. The plot suffers dearly from having far too many narrative threads. This film already weighs in at a hefty 142 minute run time, but feels like it would need a whole lot more to make a cohesive movie. Instead of investing us into one thread such as maybe Peter’s struggle with Gwen, or building Electro as a more convincing villain the writers (Alex Kurtzman, Roberto Orci, Jeff Pinker and James Vanderbilt) give us twenty short films that they thought were going to tie together, but didn’t… at all. Overall, maybe a sophomore slump or maybe something more telling– I am not sure, but one thing I am sure of is that this movie is more of a Green Lantern opposed to a Dark Knight.