A Tangled Web: “The Amazing Spider-Man 2”

The Amazing Spider-Man could best be summed up with the word “unnecessary.” It was a reboot made to keep the rights to everyone’s favorite wall crawler from going back to Marvel, and nothing about it was the least bit remarkable. It could’ve been a passable superhero flick on its own, but it’s a bad case of déjà vu when held against the previous Spider-Man installment made by Sam Raimi.

Spidey might web the producers if he doesn’t get a better film. (Image: Sony via EW)

Now we have the reboot’s sequel; just typing that phrase I feel a disturbance in the Force. In fact, any time Roberto Orci and Alex Kurtzman write a script, a shiver goes down my spine as though…well you know how it goes. I didn’t realize they had written this one going in, but as soon as their names appeared in the credits, I said “well, that explains everything.”

They’re the genius pair who gave us such exceptionally written films like Transformers and the Star Trek reboot. That is to say, they’re exceptionally full of ridiculous contrivances, laughably bad science, stupid one-dimensional characters, and dead end plot threads. The Amazing Spider-Man 2 is no different.

A director who blows stuff up as well as Michael Bay or one who replaces half the script with lens flare like J. J. Abrams can usually overload the sensory input of the average audience member long enough to keep them from noticing most of those problems, but the aptly named director of this film, Marc Webb, is not one of those guys.  As a result there’s nothing to distract from the movie stumbling face first into a cobweb of worthless plot threads that stick and never want to let go.

Similarly, the action sequences start off quite enjoyable, but are quickly bogged down by an excessive use of slow-motion ramping in which Spidey’s spider-sense is treated less like an early warning system and more like an omniscient awareness of his surroundings.  This amps the sense of déjà vu up to eleven by telegraphing exactly what will happen, waiting a few seconds, and then showing it.

Another problem that may or may not be due to the script is Andrew Garfield’s Peter Parker, who is so self-assured and cocky even without the costume on that the conflicts of the film feel more like mild inconveniences rather than life threatening events. That said, Garfield and Emma Stone have great chemistry, no doubt due in part to their real life relationship, which makes their scenes together fun.  It’s just a shame that the movie turns their romance into an endless retread of “will they, won’t they?”

Of course, if it weren’t for Orci and Kurtzman’s trademark character teleportation act, she wouldn’t be around often enough to make it as tedious as it is. But hey, I guess it’s not totally impossible that normal human Gwen Stacey could cross a panic-stricken New York City in the middle of a blackout to arrive mere moments after Spider-Man so they can bicker as she finds herself in mortal peril. Again.

Meanwhile Jamie Foxx disappears into the special effect that is Electro early on, and Dane DeHaan’s Harry Osborne is basically a walking talking contrivance so we get no help on the villain front. The cherry on top is Sally Field acting like every scene that includes Aunt May is the most important thing in the movie, rather than belonging on the cutting room floor.

“Too much” being the theme of this movie, Hans Zimmer crafted a score that just blasts away as though each scene is the most epic thing ever put to film.  Though I’ve enjoyed a number of Zimmer’s scores over the years, I didn’t even care for the melody of this one, bombast aside.

So what’s left to say? I could follow their example and pad this out with nitpicking individual stupid moments, comparing it to the far superior Sam Raimi sequel, or just ranting about how I wish Orci and Kurtzman would stop putting their grubby hands all over some of my favorite franchises, but like The Amazing Spider-Man 2, that would just be unnecessary.

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