Review – The Amazing Spider-Man 2

Amazing-Spider-Man-2-official poster

The Amazing Spider-Man 2 is the second installment in a planned four movie series, with plenty of spinoff films in the works. Sony is banking on this movie to justify all their future plans for the franchise, so is it worth it? Does this movie work as a bridge between the so-so first installment and all that Sony has hopes for in the future? I would have to say no.

The fight sequences were amazing, and I enjoyed some of the jokey dialogue, but the movie was weak on character development and a complete mess when it came to plot. I walked out of the theater having enjoyed the movie and thinking it was pretty cool, but I didn’t have a strong desire to see it again. I have to admit to comparing it to the last Marvel movie that just came out, Captain America: The Winter Soldier, which had just blown me away and made me passionate about the characters, the plot, and everything in between. The Amazing Spider-Man 2 just didn’t do that for me.

The Amazing Spider-Man 2--Electro in Times SquareIt took me a while to sit down and actually write out this review because I’ve been trying to pinpoint just what was missing from this movie, and now I know what it is. This movie is very flashy, but ultimately very shallow. The first movie had the characters at the heart of the story, but here they seem to get lost underneath the half dozen storylines that are going on all at the same time. Fans’ fears of too many villains bogging down the story, just like in Spider-Man 3, turned out to be partly accurate. Electro’s development into a villain felt like it was meant to be the core of the story, but then Harry Osborn kind of stole the show, as well as Electro’s agency as a character. Luckily the Rhino was only there for a brief part at the beginning and the end, but with everything else going on he still felt like an unnecessary addition, especially at the end (more on that later).

Alongside the various villain subplots, Peter was also trying to find out more about his father. But that plotline didn’t contribute anything particularly significant to the main story arc or to Peter’s character. I can see why Peter learning about his father’s work at Oscorp ties in with all the other Oscorp related things going on, but I think the story would have been better served if it had been saved for a different movie, perhaps as the main story arc rather than a tacked on subplot. There just wasn’t enough time to develop all the villains being introduced as well for Peter to discover the truth about his father. This movie was trying to do too much at one time and it suffered for it.

However, the worst offender in this mélange of plots was the Peter/Gwen relationship. Not that they weren’t adorable, and the real world chemistry of the actors’ relationship shone through in their interactions, but the writers were trying to create a will-they-won’t-they dynamic by breaking them up, again, near the beginning of the film. But then every time they were in each other’s presence it was clear that they were only broken up for lazy plot creating reasons. Still, that’s not the reason why I’m calling this the worst offender. The reason why I hated how their relationship was handled was because of what happened at the end, so I’m going to give you a spoiler warning right now and let you turn away if you don’t want to know.


If you’re at all familiar with the Spider-Man story, then you probably already know what happens to Gwen Stacy. When the writers of the first Amazing Spider-Man chose to include her character, they knew they were setting her up to die, because that is sadly what Gwen Stacy is most known for. Yes, she was Peter’s first love, but what casual fans know about her is her untimely demise. So the introduction of Gwen Stacy meant that she would have to die, unless the writers wanted to incur the wrath of fans who would shout on the Internet about plot changes. (Though the writers apparently didn’t mind changing other parts of the plot or even changing Dr. Kafka from a female to a male for no apparent reason.)

The Amazing Spider-Man 2--Gwen Stacy hanging from web in clock towerUnfortunately, the writers created a pretty awesome Gwen Stacy who brings something special, a real heart and soul, to the franchise. Emma Stone’s portrayal gave the character a quirkiness and strength that will be hard to beat. So her death will leave a gaping hole in the series and put an enormous amount of pressure on whoever is chosen to play Mary Jane. But even so, I think Gwen’s death could have been done well. It could have meant something instead of just giving Peter a brief hint of man pain like what it turned out to do. Throughout the movie Gwen’s death was constantly foreshadowed, but her life also kept getting better and better, making her plunge down the clock tower even worse. I particularly took issue with the fact that Gwen made a big deal about being her own person who can make her own decisions, only for that decision to lead to her death. The message here seemed to be that she was wrong, that Peter should have been telling her what to do, that the damsel needs to shut up and do as the hero says or else.

To top it off, Gwen’s death came in a long line of various potential endings, much like the third Lord of the Rings film. With two main villains, Peter defeats one only to be attacked by the other. Each defeat could have been a place to end it, but no, it kept going, leaving you wondering just how much more time until the credits. But Gwen’s death still wasn’t the end. Peter grieves via montage and we’re told through news reports that Spider-Man has hung up his tights. This may have been another place to end, albeit a depressing one, where Peter has given up crime-fighting because of Gwen. It would have been emotionally satisfactory, however, because then Peter would have the time he needs to grieve in between films, with the third one introducing a new problem that makes him dig out his suit again. But we’re not given that kind of an ending either because Sony is too obsessed with trying to milk all it can out of this franchise. This movie isn’t here to tell a story but to set up future movies and spinoffs. It’s here to sell other movies, and that comes off as especially obvious at the ending where Harry starts building up the Sinister Six, starting with the Rhino. Peter dons his costume again to fight Paul Giamatti’s bad accent and the film ends mid completely-unnecessary-fight scene. The only way their soulless selling out could get worse would be to have a random clip from a totally different franchise shown as the mid-credits scene. Oh wait, they did that too.

All in all, I had fun but there wasn’t much beneath the surface of this movie. A good time if you don’t think too much about it, but if Sony hopes this will keep their shiny franchise afloat then they better rethink that. Though I must say, I do want to watch that Sinister Six movie now…