After ‘The Amazing Spider-Man’ managed to successfully reboot Sony’s Spider-Man franchise, there were plenty of fans (myself included) who were keen to see Andrew Garfield back as their favourite web-slinger. In fact, I’d go so far as to say that many Marvel fans were truly excited at the thought of another Spider-Man movie… that is, until we saw the trailer.
‘The Amazing Spider-Man 2’ picks up from the first reboot with Peter Parker (Andrew Garfield) settling into his role as protector of New York City… and after vowing to stay away from his sweetheart Gwen Stacy (Emma Stone) it’s clear that he’s not going to be able to keep that promise forever.
Fortunately, that’s one of the few saving graces for ‘The Amazing Spider-Man 2’ – the chemistry between Peter and Gwen is fantastic. She’s headstrong and confident in ways that compliment Peter’s geeky nature… and while it’s obvious that their closeness will eventually come at a price, we enjoy their toing and froing throughout. It’s just a shame that many of the other characters come across as being so two-dimensional.
Max Dillon for example (played by Jamie Foxx) could have been so much more. His rather tragic rise to power as the super-villain Electro seemed like the stuff of legends… but rather than take a sympathetic route, his down-trodden character comes across as laughable. It’s clear that we’re supposed to feel sorry for Max but it just doesn’t transfer well to the screen. Instead, he’s practically reduced to a running joke, complete with a humorous soundtrack for some of his early scenes. And his sudden change of heart from Spider-Man super-fan to evil super-villain just feels plain wrong.
And then there’s Harry Osborn. The usually brilliant Dane DeHaan is on top form… but I can’t help thinking that the material he was expected to work from left a lot to be desired. It isn’t for lack of trying, however – there are some truly emotional scenes when Osborn is forced to face the reality that nobody will help him in his fight to survive. The real problem is that his transformation into the Goblin is tacked on almost as an afterthought.
I can’t help feeling that Electro and the Goblin could have been the star villains of their own, individual movies if handled properly. Instead, they were crammed into one film without any satisfying conclusion for either. Of course, it’s likely not the last we’ve seen of Harry Osborn. But that’s little consolation when his pretty interesting origin story was so cruelly messed up.
To put it bluntly, ‘The Amazing Spider-Man 2’ was a jumbled mess and it’s clear that it was written with one thing in mind – to open up the franchise for further development. There are references galore to Spider-Man’s friends and foes… and with Sony ramping up development of the brand, it seems like a cynical ploy to create brand recognition. Whether they can follow in Marvel’s footsteps with a complete Spider-Man universe is another thing entirely.
But one thing’s for certain – ‘The Amazing Spider-Man 2’ is hardly a promising start. Far from it.
Almost begging to make up for the film itself, the Blu-ray edition hosts a pretty impressive number of extras. The standard fare director’s commentary is included alongside a whopping number of deleted scenes. And with a music video and over 100 minutes of featurettes, I have to admit – it’s quite a nice little bundle.
There’s also the matter of a rather cute comic book tucked inside the sleeve of every Blu-ray edition. Unfortunately, it adds little to the overall experience, instead merely regurgitating some of the scenes from the movie. I can’t help thinking that Sony missed a great opportunity to give Max Dillon a bit more backstory… but it’s a neat addition nonetheless.
Unfortunately, this collection of cool extras won’t make up for the fact that ‘The Amazing Spider-Man 2’ is a mediocre film at best… and positively dire at its worst. You’d think Sony would have learned their lesson from ‘Spider-Man 3’.