I wanted to like “The Amazing Spider-Man 2.”
Compared to the abysmal stream of Spidey movies from the early 2000s, it’s certainly an improvement. And yet, halfway through the film, I found myself wanting just one thing: for Spider-Man to die.
It’s not because Andrew Garfield was bad in the role. He wasn’t. The reason I felt this way was not because of the quality of the film, but rather with the almost complete predictability of its plot.
Excluding one moment near the end that pushed for shock value, “The Amazing Spider-Man 2” never really stands above what we’ve come to expect from superhero films. Even worse, it attempts to connect so many different plot points that the film’s central narrative eventually buckles under its own weight.
The movie finds Peter Parker (Andrew Garfield) facing the old tried-and-true Spider-Man romantic conflict. After promising her father that he would keep her out of his crime-fighting antics, Peter finds himself having to choose between the love of his life, Gwen Stacy (Emma Stone) and the possibility that his alter ego might endanger her. Simultaneously, an OsCorp engineer named Max Dillon (Jamie Foxx) becomes obsessed with the young hero. After an unfortunate encounter with some biologically engineered eels, Max gains electrical powers and loses his mind. While all this is happening, young Harry Osborn (Dane DeHaan) finds out he has a degenerative disease, and the only thing that can save him is a bit of Spider-Man’s blood.
If that sounds like a lot to fit into a single superhero flick, it’s because it is. Considering that writer Alex Kurtzman also tries to introduce a few subplots that stray far from rationality, the film quickly loses its narrative cohesion.
This is unfortunate, because the movie provides some truly enjoyable acting, with the supporting cast pulling the weight of the film. Stone deserves a statue erected in her honor for playing a comic book love interest with some strength and energy, even if the writing isn’t always in her favor. At the end of the film, she’s even given a moment to speak against the assumed helplessness of many of the comic books universe’s constantly endangered heroines.
Foxx—unsurprisingly—does a magnificent job with Electro. The character’s backstory as a sad and forgotten worker drone makes him more developed than the average mustache-twirler, and the moments where his rage manifests as electrical destruction give promise to an epic showdown between him and Spider-Man. The film could have utilized the tension between Electro’s misunderstood past and Spiderman’s superhero hubris, but instead we get a brief moment of tension in Times Square and an ultimately lackluster final fight scene.
Like its 2012 predecessor, the movie leans heavily on computer-generated effects, which causes many of the fight scenes to lose their sense of genuine grandiosity.
The film’s overreliance on a large web of events, no pun intended, rather than a direct narrative leaves it feeling more like a long stream of above-average scenes. Even worse, “The Amazing Spider-Man 2” simply continues to tread old paths. After five films, it’s either time to give Spider-Man the movie he deserves, or put him to rest.
Sheldon is a senior creative writing major. This is his first year writing for The Spectator. He was once bitten by a duck in Palm Springs.