The Amazing Spider-Man 2 (2014) — Underrated or overblown?

“A god named Sparkles?”

Justin’s rating: That’s… that’s not what electricity does

Justin’s review: After being thoroughly underwhelmed by the first Amazing Spider-Man, warned off by negative reviews of the sequel, and experiencing a general “superhero movies fatigue threshold,” the odds were good I wasn’t ever going to see Amazing Spider-Man 2.

But then things got interesting with this maligned Spidey outing. First there was a growing cult following of this truncated series, almost to spite the critics of it. And second, there was Garfield’s cameo in No Way Home that triggered many media stories about a reviving a proper Amazing Spider-Man 3. I mean, if it was my money, I’d rather have a Sam Raimi Spider-Man 4, but nobody’s asking me these days.

So I figured that since I was already on a bit of a “bad Spider-Man movies” kick, I might as well bite down on this two-and-a-half-hour sequel and see if it’s as bad — or as good — as people say. (And speaking of the running length, can we get shorter superhero movies please? Maybe these bladder-busting lengths are contributing to the aforementioned fatigue syndrome.)

The Amazing Spider-Man 2 doesn’t so much have a plot as it has Plots. Think of it as a disease where little plots keep popping up and medication isn’t keeping it under control. We get some disconnected stuff with Peter’s parents that didn’t make sense in the first movie and doesn’t here. Peter and Gwen Stacey break up and have a long-distance pining contest. A Spider-Man stalker gains the powers of electricity. Rhino shows up every once in a while to be embarrassed by Spidey. There’s a legit German mad scientist. Harry Osborne apparently turns into a green mutant. Everything’s trying to angle to set up the Sinister Six in the next movie, which was a valuable use of this expensive time.

And between all of these Plots is a tone that janks and jukes all over the place. It’s a bloated mess, maybe more so than Spider-Man 3, and would’ve been so much better had the screenwriters exercised better discipline and stuck to one or two main threads.

There’s a whole lot of out-and-out laughably terrible stuff here. I just couldn’t buy any of the villains as a threat or a genuine character. Electro is weirdly delusional, Harry is a greaseball of a human being, and Rhino deserves all of the pile-ons that he gets. If your movie has three bad guys and can’t make any one of them stick, then you’ve got a problem.

Yet I can kind of see why Amazing Spider-Man 2 has its fans. Garfield still doesn’t convince me that he’s actually Peter Parker (nor does Sally Field as Aunt May, for that matter). But he’s a whole lot of fun as Spider-Man. Seeing our favorite web-slinger race to save the day while cracking wise and being goofy with his powers has that authentic comic book feel.

If a movie has Plots, it usually has Moments too. And if you can subsist on just moments — occasional scenes, random lines, heartbreaking developments — then that might be enough to sustain you for two-and-a-half hours. But let’s not turn a movie this flawed into a cinematic martyr for the ages. Love it in spite of its flaws or leave it because of them.

Didja notice?

  • We start this movie with another, completely unrelated movie now in progress
  • Thank you Ms. Exposition Computer! I wouldn’t know about radioactivity if it wasn’t for you.
  • There’s no way that this opening car chase didn’t kill like 18 people
  • The Spider-Man ring tone
  • Webs are good for de-pantsing bad guys
  • Spider-Man, what’s with the giant fish?
  • Every deranged person needs a crazy wall o’ connections
  • Ms. Exposition Computer is back to tell us about the random eels in the company labs!
  • Being over electrocuted — by eels AND power conduits — is an easy way to straighten out that gap in your teeth
  • DUBSTEP-MAN
  • What’s the purpose of throwing smoke grenades at him?
  • Guys, it’s his birthday, c’mon
  • Oh, it’s the FOR YOUUUUU song. Geez.
  • If someone else has powers, it really won’t work to just, y’know, jam their blood into your body

2 comments

  1. Yeah. I also recently watched it for the first time in anticipation for “No Way Home” and I’ve gotta say…pretty happy I didn’t waste my time on it back in 2014 or whenever it came out. Is it the worst movie ever? No. But, it’s like you said, it’s very discombobulated and struggles identifying a specific tone. All the Harry stuff seemed to be more set up for serious/dramatic redeemable villain (failed), the Rhino bits were supposed to be Saturday morning cartoon (failed) and Electro I guess was sympathetic villain because his main motivation was (checks notes) he wasn’t famous? Electro may be the worst of the three villains, and that’s a huge bar. It’s too bad because Foxx is fantastic…I just think they forgot what movie they were doing periodically. Thank God they redeemed him a bit in “No Way Home”.

    Side note, Gwen Stacy’s death was fantastically brutal and heart wrenching. We can honestly just throw the rest of it out.

  2. I saw this on tv years ago. Personally, I do think this is the weakest Spiderman film (and honestly, I never was a fan of the Amazing series to begin with), I don’t think it’s as bad as people say and it’s at least watchable at least once. I do agree that it had too many plots and should have had one main focus. I kinda feel that Green Goblin near the end was forced. I also wonder what the point of Rhino was as he didn’t contribute much except fan service

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