Following a solid start from Sony’s reboot The Amazing Spider-Man, Marc Webb’s second opus could well have been the defining chapter in a whole new universe of comic-book movies. With plans for a super-villain team-up series and a whole host of Spider-man related spin-offs already going ahead, it must have been an awful surprise when The Amazing Spider-Man 2 stumbled out of the summer box-office very much a loser, falling nearly $300 million short of Sony’s initial projections. The reason for such disappointing numbers is, no doubt, a massive budget without a story to match.
Webb’s second Spider-Man adventure is by no means a complete failure. Andrew Garfield still offers the welcome burst of energy and charming cockiness that he brought to his first outing as the web-slinging Peter Parker, whilst Emma Stone’s Gwen Stacy remains as punchy and adorable as ever. One might even go so far as to say that it’s the chemistry between the pair that really sells the franchise; incredibly effortless and always on point. Webb has the romantic side of the series down to a tee, it’s just a shame everything else is a little clumsy and bullish.
With a great deal of the rebooting and character introductions firmly now out of the way, it’s finally Spider-Man’s time to shine. It’s difficult not to compare Marc Webb’s Amazing Spider-Man series to Sam Raimi’s earlier efforts with the character, considering both franchises were released barely ten years apart. Raimi’s initial sequel offered a tremendously diabolical villain that pushed the film to an emotional breaking point for both Spider-Man and his new nemesis. Webb’s second effort does nothing of the sorts.
Jamie Foxx does an incredible job of ensuring his villain Electro is as weirdly sympathetic and well-rounded as possible, so it’s an odd call that, after a couple of face-offs, he’s thrown aside as a mere henchman for Dane DeHaan’s rushed and significantly more irritating Green Goblin knock-off. Whereas DeHaan impresses as the Goblin’s civilian alter-ego Harry Osborn, his villainous shift comes far too late in the game and holds barely any dramatic weight. And if that’s not enough, Paul Giamatti even shows up as a third villain to bookend the film, a completely throwaway role that adds so little it could be removed very easily without questions.
This odd game of ‘Super-Villain Musical Chairs’ plagues the narrative to no-end and a messy ‘will they/won’t they’ dynamic between Peter and Gwen does nothing but fill time that would have been far better used tying their relationship into Spider-Man’s battle with the multitude of villains. The seemingly endless supply of deleted scenes available with the blu-ray release adds even more insult to injury, showing off a whole range of different dramatic directions for the series. It’s almost as if Webb and Sony had no real idea where they wanted the film to go until they bundled into the editing room after the shoot.
Whereas it offers some new directions for the franchise and a fresh helping of Garfield and Stone magic, The Amazing Spider-Man 2 is over-stuffed and far too expensive for its own good.
The Amazing Spider-Man 2 (2014), directed by Marc Webb, is released on Blu-Ray and DVD by Sony Pictures Home Entertainment, Certificate 12. Watch the trailer below: