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Review: ‘The Amazing Spider-Man 2’ Is A Love Story At Heart

amazing spiderman

In Marvel We Trust, seems to be the slogan these days. With an outpouring of comic-based superhero movies within the last few years, the superhero franchise has dominated screens and box offices for a good long run. But not, as it would seem, this time.

The Amazing Spider-Man 2 currently holds a critic rating on Rotten Tomatoes over 53%, which not only ranks as less than half of The Amazing Spider-Man (73%), it is also the lowest ranking out of all of the previous Tobey McGuire Spider-Man films. Even Spider-Man 3, which is saying a lot because that movie was A Hot Mess. But why? Spider-Man, a hero that is the closest in age to the golden “teenage population”, played by an actor who’s closest to the golden actor age (30s), should cover basically the perfect demographic of audience members. So why is The Amazing Spider-Man 2 turning out to be a less-than-successful sequel?

To be fair, the final earnings of the movie haven’t come in yet, so it may be too early to tell how well it will do. We can only hope that Andrew Garfield, Emma Stone, and Jamie Foxx’s respective popularity will boost the ratings of the film. But if reviews from audiences and critics are anything to go by, it certainly won’t perform as well as other Marvel franchises have this year.

This movie, in my opinion, was very much two films smashed into one. It was, as all other superhero movies seem to be these days, part love story and part adventure story. The film follows Peter Parker (the gracious Andrew Garfield) as he graduates high school and faces down the question of whether his secret job occupation as a web-slinging superhero is worth giving up for the true love of his life, Gwen Stacy (Emma Stone). Directed by Marc Webb, the film is lighthearted all the way up until the end of the film, in which it takes a surprisingly and incredibly dark turn.

It makes a lot more sense when you realize that Marc Webb was the director of the much loved indie-esque film (500) Days of Summer back in 2009. Knowing this, it makes it easy to see that The Amazing Spider-Man 2 was, at heart, a love story. The action and villains in the film were just plot devices and catalysts for the main cause conflict for the main conflict in the story – Peter and Gwen’s relationship.

This is not to say that I didn’t enjoy the exploration of their relationship; throughout the film, it was interesting to see Peter struggle with what it means to be a superhero trying to protect your identity while trying to also protect the ones you love. We’ve seen this explored in the original Spider-Man films, as well as in Iron Man 3, to an extent. The classic “I have to give you up so you won’t be hurt when a villain wants to use you against me” approach is effective, if not a little predictable. What makes it work well in this film is the amazing chemistry between real-life couple Andrew Garfield and Emma Stone, who manage to keep things interesting because they’re naturally funny and interesting people.

In terms of the plot and villains themselves, the story is about as confusing and nonsensical as Thor: The Dark World is. Additionally, it features dialogue that is so cheesy it almost equates to bad fanfiction. Max Dillon (played by the talented Jamie Foxx) is an awkward, humble electrician who gets overlooked and generally stomped on by everyone around him. He falls into a vat of electric eels (barracudas?) and gains the superpower to control electricity. To be honest, the film isn’t really quite clear with how far his powers extend. The film also accidentally makes bad puns about Electro taking away other people’s “power” (literally and metaphorically, ha ha), and has him saying lines such as “I just want people to notice me!” Sigh.

And then towards the very end of the film, after everything seems to be ending well, they throw in another super-villain. And by throw in, I mean he literally descends from the sky. It’s an obvious set-up for the next Spider-Man film to come, and possibly a set-up to even tie Spider-Man into the larger X-men franchise in the future.

Hopefully, since this film worked so hard to set up the third Spider-Man, I have high hopes that everything we were looking for in this one will be in the third one.

two and a half stars

Cast: Andrew Garfield, Emma Stone, Jamie Foxx
Director: Marc Webb
Runtime: 2hr 22min
Genre: Action, Adventure, Romance