‘Less is more’.
That’s an odd little phrase – but one which rings true in the case of The Amazing Spider-Man 2.
Less is more. Shame there wasn’t fewer plotlines, less bad guys, less hammy acting, less nonsense – and more Spider-Man action. (Excuse the bad grammar. I’m making a point.)
We’ve been here before, as it happens. Those of you who remember the original Spider-Man trilogy will no doubt recall how badly received the third movie in the series was – too many characters, too many plotlines, too little subtlety. How the Amazing 2 screenwriters, led by Alex Kurtzman, could make the same mistakes perplexes me. But I digress.
Once again directed by the ironically-named Marc Webb, Spider-Man 2 sees Andrew Garfield return as the titular web-slinger – this time with even more of an attitude problem. Having dispatched Dr Curt Connors in the previous movie, the young superhero is happily hamming it up as New York’s webbed wonder – but naturally, this isn’t going to last.
No, Spider-Man must contend with many villains this time around, starting with Electro (a delightfully unhinged Jamie Foxx). Foxx does an admirable job of playing both nerdy electrician Max Dillon, and the supercharged, psychopathic Electro – who was naturally created in a convenient accident.
Seriously, does no-one take health and safety seriously in movies?
However, being as there’s two more villains waiting in the wings – and a shadowy figure behind the action, of course, the main horrible threat Spider-Man has to contend with is… the badly-written plot.
(By the way, don’t be fooled – the trailer and the film are… really very different)
As well as battling Electro, Spider-Man must also deal with his on-again-off-again relationship with science genius Gwen Stacey (a brilliantly ballsy Emma Stone), the return of his old friend Harry Osborn (a wonderfully creepy Dane DeHann) – who has some serious daddy issues – and a quest to discover the truth behind his parents’ disappearance.
This alone – the quest to explain what happened to his parents, and what their work represented – could have been the core of an adventure to remember.
The long way down
This, then, is where the movie fell apart for me. Rather than a solid storyline, with Peter Parker blossoming into the conflicted superhero we know and love, what we were presented with was a messy plot which meanders from scene to scene, raising more questions than it answers – and resolving none of them.
In fact, this movie feels like little more than an effort to set up the next one – and not only that, at points I simply grew bored. I shouldn’t be bored in a superhero movie – especially one whose trailer promised so much, and delivered on little of it.
That said, the action is solid and the fight scenes are enjoyable. There’s a little too much slow-mo for my liking, and since I was watching in 2D, the moments where the 3D was supposed to take centre stage were painfully obvious. Also, there were more than a few moments which had me rolling out my best critic’s ‘haughty laugh’ – including one scene that sees Spider-Man being beaten up by dubstep.
Overall, The Amazing Spider-Man 2 falls flat on its promises. While a watchable popcorn flick, it doesn’t build on the momentum its predecessors brought to the struggling series.
For an equally harsh – but much more intelligently phrased – review, head on over to James Parry’s This Is Entertainment.