It's mostly boring romance punctuated by some promising villainy.
The Amazing Spider-Man 2
Director: Marc Webb (500) Days of Summer
Screenplay: Alex Kurtzman (Star Trek into Darkness)
Cast: Andrew Garfield (The Social Network), Emma Stone (The Gangster Squad)
Runtime: 142 min.
by John DeSando
Aunt May (Sally Field): “I once told you that secrets have a cost. The truth does too.”
The truth in The Amazing Spider-Man 2 is it might cost you over $10 to be bored for 142 minutes. Spidey/Peter Parker (Andrew Garfield) is fighting the romantic demons once again while powerful enemies are reduced to the status of playground bullies by comparison to the film’s minutes. The reboot has moments of humor (Peter Parker: You want me to come down there so you can kill me? Aleksei Sytsevich: Yeah! Peter Parker: Ok, I'll be right there.) but just too few. In fact, I may not review another super-hero film this summer just to avoid wasting more hours on these clichéd adventure-fantasies.
Director Marc Webb goes nose to nose with Sam Raimi’s earlier trilogy and comes off second place (notwithstanding Raimi’s soporific 2007 Spider-Man 3). Although Peter’s on again-off again love of Gwen (Emma Stone) is as repetitious as the rest of the film, the moment he allows her to contribute her intelligence to the downfall of Max Dillon/Electro (Jamie Foxx), the film becomes charged with honest characterization—she is after all going to Oxford—whereby the old stereotype of the helpless maiden is short-circuited for a moment, but only a moment. Most of the other time she is in need of rescue or trying to break up their relationship, both motifs overwrought and tedious.
By the way, Electro is a promising villain, pumped up with energy that can debilitate a city and a character from humble roots, who could have provided fascinating complexity but who ends up just getting too charged up. The special effects for Electro brimming with volts and Spidey spinning through Gotham are as to be expected, state of the art.
But a good story is more than CGI—it should engage the minds of bright people gone bad, such as the heir to Oscorp, Harry (Dane DeHaan), who is the new head of the sinister corporation Peter’s father worked for in genetic engineering gone wrong and where Max picked up his energy.
Harry has his moments, but like Electro, he can’t trump the time director Mark Webb and his writers give to the simple-minded star-crossed romance. Webb is far away from the lovely little story of troubled romance he directed in (500) Days of Summer. Maybe when DeHaan fleshes out the Green Goblin, and maybe Gwen returns, then I will be renewed, overcharge as this iteration is with mediocre romance.
Peter Parker: There really is no place like home.
John DeSando, a Los Angeles Press Club first-place winner for National Entertainment Journalism, hosts WCBE’s It’s Movie Time and co-hosts Cinema Classics. Contact him at JDeSando@Columbus.rr.com