The Amazing Spider-Man 2 (dir. Marc Webb, 2014) – Formidable men turn against Spider-Man as the web-slinging hero struggles to defend his identity, his city and his loved ones.
Bigger doesn’t always mean better. Overzealous in flaunting the best of its arcs, The Amazing Spider-Man 2 entertains but entangles in one too many plot threads.
If The Amazing Spider-Man had been underwhelming, Part 2 has certainly swung to the other extreme. Eager for Peter Parker (Andrew Garfield) to meet more iconic faces, New York City has kept his arachnid alter-ego very busy with foes on the loose from every corner.
One man with the craze for enmity and the hair to match is Max Dillon (Jamie Foxx). The mostly harmless engineer spends his mundane days with a full-time job at Oscorp and a part-time hobby of obsessing over Spider-Man. At least until an accident unleashes his antagonistic side.
Electro sparks to life, revealing bitter envy in his idolisation. His cartoonish motivation comes with sillier nursery rhyme-inspired threats, making for a rather dull fight against the web-slinging hero.
Bigger problems greet in smaller portions, when Harry Osborn (Dane Dehaan) enters the picture and asks for help that Spider-Man could not grant. Peter Parker’s best friend, who needs little introduction to anyone vaguely familiar with the Spidey universe, gets very little introduction.
It takes just one-third of Marc Webb’s film before Harry and Peter’s friendship begin to sour. In comparison, Sam Raimi developed that brilliant dynamic over two great films and one disappointing finale.
Despite strong cast performances, the all-too-hasty introduction feels dismissive of Harry’s complex friendship with Peter. Not even his paternal tie gets the time of the day. Instead, his character is forced to make way for Electro’s destructive set pieces, squandering the great potential of Green Goblin’s origins.
Rounding up the chaos is Rhino (Paul Giamatti), who somehow finds time to charge in. As you might have guessed, the random 3-minute appearance could have been easily done without. The bloated sequel starts to become an entangled mess that makes The Hobbit trilogy feel like a brief teaser.
Slip into the remaining blank space Peter’s other important relationship in his life – with his first love Gwen Stacy (Emma Stone). Another important story to be handled with care is yet again thrown to the sidelines.
The heavy turn of events takes commendable risk in a usually optimistic genre, but there is little pay-off. An overambitious narrative thins out attention given to each plot line, diminishing necessary pathos and emotional weight to an important twist.
And so neither Harry Osborn nor Gwen Stacy gets the treatment they deserve, despite the gravitas of their major arcs. The Amazing Spider-Man 2 ends up a string of play-by-play events instead of huge powerful moments, squandering all hopes for a more resonant sequel.