The Amazing Spider-Man 2: The Kotaku Review

The Amazing Spider-Man 2: The Kotaku Review

The great thing about this Peter Parker is that you believe it when he cries. WARNING: Mild spoilers follow for the plot of The Amazing Spider-Man 2.

The Amazing Spider-Man 2: The Kotaku Review

I wasn't a fan of the first Amazing Spider-Man film when it came out in two years ago. Director Marc Webb's initial take on Marvel Comics' renowned superhero didn't justify its existence as a reboot. It retold an origin that didn't need retelling.

Worse still, the 2012 movie tacked a destiny onto the new cinematic iteration of Peter Parker, giving him a scientist dad whose advanced genetic research and mysterious disappearance pulled him into becoming Spider-Man. The random radioactive spider-bite wasn't that random anymore. Peter Parker went from being an everyman that stumbled into heroism to a character that was fated to put on the webs.

Spider-Man doesn't need that kind of narrative architecture. Peter Parker's a character that's best realised in the swirl of the present. Yes, his catalyst moment is in a past mistake where he used his powers to look out for number one and lost his beloved Uncle Ben because of it. But, Spider-Man works because he's always figured out a way to move forward, out of guilt and circumstance. Plotlines where he's had to dig out his past — especially the ones regarding the actions of others, like the Clone Saga, for example — have felt like they weighed the character down.

The Amazing Spider-Man 2: The Kotaku Review

So, it's not a good omen that Amazing Spider-Man 2 starts in a flashback. Before Spider-Man ever shoots his first web in the movie, viewers have to sit through a sequence where Richard and Mary Parker go on the run, leaving Peter behind. The mystery of why Richard Parker left his son forms the film's least satisfying subplot. When it finally gets resolved, you feel like breathing a sigh of relief. Peter Parker's biological parents are boring. Very few fans are sitting around reminiscing about that one time Richard and Mary seemingly came back from the dead. Spider-Man doesn't exist because his parents died tragic deaths; the webhead exists because it's how Peter copes with the tensions of his melodramatic life.

Andrew Garfield embodies that melodrama well. He's a Peter Parker who's full of nervous energy and emotional yearning. Brooding, moody and a little twitchy, Peter needs his smarter, more assured girlfriend to help him actually enjoy his dual lives.

Webb makes the most of the talents of his young cast in ASM2. Dane DeHaan does a good turn as Peter's frenemy Harry Osborn. Although all audiences get is a few quick scenes between Peter and Harry to serve as shorthand for their friendship, the breeziness between Garfield and DeHaan does enough to intimate a long-ago warmth once existed between their characters. DeHaan simmers more than he shouts and sketches out a Harry whose neglected-child wounds add a tiny bit of sympathy to his mania. He's fun to watch. However, as in the previous film, the chemistry between Andrew Garfield's Peter Parker and Emma Stone's Gwen Stacy is ASM2's biggest highlight.

The Amazing Spider-Man 2: The Kotaku Review

The banter and heartache between the two leads gives the movie an adorable emotional centre of gravity, one that glosses over plot holes and the hamminess of Jamie Foxx's turn as Electro. The take on Spidey's electrical supervillain in ASM2 continues the b-movie allusions from its predecessor, with a few moments that dance over the border into campiness. Though touches like a sadistic German-accented mad scientist feel like tonal self-indulgence, none of that breaks the tenor of the what-are-we-doing-with-our-lives proceedings.

There's a better emotional core inside Webb's second go-round with the wall-crawler. Spider-Man feels like a part of this fictional New York City and his chatter with bad guys and ordinary folk alike captures part of why he's been a favourite character for so long. The three main characters find themselves at a crossroads, with life getting turbulent as they get older.

The interdependency between hero and villain that's become a tiresome requirement in cinematic superhero adaptations is still here in ASM2 but it's better executed here than in, say, Man of Steel. There's a superior balance of angst and charm in this film, including a great sequence early on where Spider-Man saves multiple lives in rapid-fire fashion. The needs that Gwen, Peter and Harry are trying to fulfil feel genuine, despite the hard-to-believe coincidences that the plot walks their characters through.

Amazing Spider-Man 2 does a great job of playing with what fans know, creating a delicious anxiety that rewards foreknowledge. The climactic moment still manages to resonate effectively even if you knew it was going to happen.

The Amazing Spider-Man 2: The Kotaku Review

Where the Raimi/Maguire Spider-Man movies had Peter Parker as sort of perpetually naïve, Webb's stewardship introduces a more complex emotional palette. The grief and recovery in Amazing Spider-Man 2 are what finally justifies the rebooting of Marvel's flagship character. Things happen here that you couldn't have imagined happening in previous versions of a Spider-Man movie. It really feels like the wall-crawler gets his heart broken and this sequel really nails the aspirational idea that Peter Parker is someone who swings upward out of his own trauma.


Comments

    Loved the first one. Loved this one even more. These movies feel like a true spiderman adaption. These movies fill me with the same excitement and wonder as I did when I was a kid reading amazing spiderman. I never got that from the rami trilogy. I'm so happy they rebooted it.

      Yeah the new spiderman films are fantastic so much better than spider emo3 Really rated 2 and I can't wait for a third
      Don't understand the hate, so many people whinge about stuff that should be respected a whole lot more for it's success like the Transformers Films etc

    Liked the movie just thought maybe it was too busy. There were so many stories being told and I think if they cut one or two back they could've expanded and added more depth. I loved the fight scenes in the film though and Electro(Jamie Foxx) was awesome. Anyone think Electro sounded like a Crysis/Cell suit whenever he spoke, I thought that was awesome :D

      He sounded like someone who had a lot of electricity running through their body, it worked extremely well for the character in this just like it has for other animated versions in the past, something that seems beyond Evan's level of understanding.

    I dunno what movie you saw but this was a mess. Plot holes all over the place and a slap in the face of long term Spider-man fans not seen since Spider-Man 3. Characters used in "name only" roles all over the place, the secondary villain (and the third one more so) are glossed over because they didn't want to use them in a third movie, the constant BS romance mellow drama when 95% of the movie goers know what was happening at the end, plus the romance subplots used as filler in a 2 and a half hour movie, the over the top "comedy" that completely dropped people out of the movie, and finally an ending that felt like a turkey-slap to the face given how much hype it was given in the trailer!

    Also, I'm sorry but Jamie Foxx knocked it out of the park as Electro. Sure the Max Dillon character was a walking stereotype and was terrible, but when he changed the performance ramped up brilliantly. But if you want to talk bad and campy acting, look no further than Emma Stone playing Emma Stone pretending to be Gwen Stacey. i have no idea what happened between films but Emma's performance dropped into Zombieland/Easy A territory for a character who deserves a lot better.

    This movie wasn't great, but it wasn't the worst Spider-Man movie out there that Sony has made (So people won't reference Italian Spider-Man). If there ever was a case for Disney to throw money at a company to buy it's rights back, it's this movie.

    I thought it was ok, Gwen and Peter's relationship was great, I guess it helps that the two actors is dating in real life. Peter and Harry's relationship was underdeveloped, and the 5mins or so that the green goblin was in was disappointing, I guess they want to set up sinister six, and I think the movie gets affected because of that.

    Electro was also forgettable, which is a pity because of the talent of Foxx, and Zimmer's music can get too distracting at times

    Last edited 26/04/14 5:05 pm

      Green Goblin is iconic but it ended up being a very anticlimactic ending for the Green Goblin.

      I guess with so much more focus given on Spiderman's development culminating in Gwen Stacy's Death. The other characters ended up being props towards that rather than focusing on creating meaningful interaction.

    I personally enjoy the new spiderman series even midst the plot holes and cliches.

    It isn't even close to a perfect re-enactment of the comic spiderman but it is entertaining regardless.

    I think some people forget that if you go back and read the comics, they were pretty damn corny and cliche. That moment where you think 'OH HOW CONVENIENT IS THAT' is basically inevitable in a comic book movie.

    As much as I liked Spiderman 2, I couldn't help but cringe at the 'The Incredibles' style ending. Almost expected him to say 'I AM UNDERMINER'.

    While definitely not a perfect movie technically, I found it to be very enjoyable and a lot of fun. I found it to be the best portrayal of Spidey yet, balancing fun and tragedy very well. The ending was a bit overstuffed and could have done with pushing a bit into the next film. The only real issue I had was the ticking clock used for suspense in the final fight was contrived and unnecessary. Peter didn't even know it was going on.

    From the campy German mad scientist to an electrical rendition of itsy bity spider during a battle, this film felt more like a bad comedy than a legitimate Marvel movie. To quote Jay Sherman "it stinks".

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