Friday, 2 May 2014

Movie Review: The Amazing Spider-Man 2

Previous Review: That Demon Within
Next Review: Godzilla

After the less amazing and darker reboot of the Marvel Spidey franchise, Spider-Man is back again with a sequel, swinging between skyscrapers in New York City, with his perfectly-designed costume. So, was it good enough to satisfy the audience and fans alike this time around?
It seems that Spidey's costume has evolved throughout the years...the newly-designed costume for this film finally resembles the costume he always wears in the comics.

It is also noticeable that Spidey's CGI renders have improved a lot as we see Spidey swings by on the streets of New York City at the beginning of the film. We also get to see what Spider-Man really does in battle - always joking around while moving swiftly with his super-reflexes to fight the bad guys. Moreover, Garfield and Stone have terrific on-screen chemistry as a couple and they have a few genuinely funny and heartfelt moments together in the film. The film also comes with a major shocking plot twist at the end (not so much for the fans who knew Spidey for a long time though). This seemingly indicates that it's probably a good film right? Well, no. Far from it, actually.

Despite the CGI and costume design improvements, plot twists and a strong relationship between Garfield and Stone, the entire plot structure of the film is a disaster. Things just keeps on happening from scene to scene in the film. The film is overstuffed with various disparate subplots and the pieces don't fit together nicely, without a central story tying them together into a single coherent narrative: the mysterious disappearance of Peter's parents, Peter and Gwen's complicated relationship, dual-sided nature of Harry and Peter's friendship, introduction and development of new villains - Electro, Rhino and Green Goblin, Sinister Six setup, Aunt May and Peter's relationship after Uncle Ben's death...all in one film.

The villains, Max/Electro and Aleksei Sytsevich/Rhino barely have character development in the film at all. Their motivations are fuzzy and poorly conceived. Their character arcs aren't properly fleshed out as intended and they're barely connected to the main protagonist's character arc. It's a pity to see such great potential go to waste. I would even daringly say that you won't feel anything missing if they're both completely removed from the story, because their roles doesn't seemed to affect the overall plot of the film at all. It's understandable that the purpose of Rhino's inclusion to the film is for the next sequel's setup...But, it seems to me that the inclusion of Electro in the film serves no purpose other than to add more exciting, extravagant action fight scenes for the audience to watch. While the extravagance of the action scenes make the film more entertaining, it makes the film look cartoony and not realistic at all.

Worst, the tone of the film shifts drastically back and forth between fun, not-so-serious and entertaining to emotional, serious and dark, which requires the audience to take some time to adjust and this hurts the film a lot. Whenever there's a tender, intimate moment between Peter and Gwen happening in the film and you start to feel the emotions coming, the film robs them away by abruptly shifting it to an Electro scene, a 'clue to solve Peter's parents disappearance' scene, or another Harry scene.

As a long-time Spidey fan, I personally feel that the film ultimately fails to capture the most influential, emotional and devastating moment in Peter Parker's life. It lacks the much-needed emotional build-up to deliver the punch in the end, due to the film's horrendous plot structure and inconsistent tonal shifts. The various subplots constantly interfere and collide with each other throughout the film because that’s how it was structured in the script. While seemingly looked good in script, it just doesn't translate well on screen.

Furthermore, the Amazing Spider-Man 2 repeats the same mistakes like Iron Man 2...too many heavy-handed foreshadowing for future sequels, instead of making it a compelling, focused, stand-alone film. While the sequel is better than its predecessor (the first Amazing Spider-Man film) in many ways, it's still not the hands-down, best Spidey film that many fans would hoped to see.

Rating: 6/10

NOTE: Be sure to stay for the surprising mid-credit scene after the film ends.

Although the story has a terrible narrative structure, I believe the central theme of the story should be dealing with life's two biggest questions:
Are you capable enough to deal with the repercussions of taking chances, knowing that they might happen in the future or are you willing to accept the consequences of not taking those chances and in turn living regretfully because of it?

SPOILER ALERT: Please read the following ONLY after you've watched the film.
For those who argues that it's the best Spider-Man film ever made, or a decent entertaining film to watch, let me ask you a few questions first and mention a few problems before you say so:
  1. Do you feel you know the character of Max Dillion? Is he a relatable villain? Do you pity him after he becomes Electro? 
  2. Can you feel the friendship between Harry and Peter in this film? You don't get to see Peter and Harry's friendship grow throughout the film, at all. When Harry felt betrayed by Peter, do you feel for him? 
  3. When Gwen's death is finally shown near the end of the film, what do you feel? Do you feel sad for Peter's loss? Could you empathize with him?
  4. Why Harry is suddenly Peter's 'best friend' when he is totally absent in the first film? Just because the film say they're best friends? 
  5. With barely enough development, how do you expect the audience to feel empathy when Harry feels betrayed by Peter, which leads to his inevitable transformation as the Green Goblin?
  6. Why Electro hates Spidey so much that he wants to kill him? Just because he forgot his name? or is it because a police shoots him because he moves clumsily like an idiot? As far as I could remember, Spidey did inform the police to stop the firing. What a poor character motivation.
  7. How on earth do Peter’s parents capable of having a hydraulic hidden subway car lab to conduct their research?
  8. How and When Harry and Gustav Fiers ('The Gentleman' or 'Man in the Shadows') know each other and secretly plot to form a group (The Sinister Six)?
  9. In the end, Harry knows who Spidey's true identity, but why he chose not to expose his true identity to the world?
  10. Electro is a ridiculously overpowered villain. Electro's power is supposed to be electric manipulation only. I do understand the relationship between electricity and magnetism, which explains that he also gain a certain degree of power over magnetism, allowing him to manipulate magnetic fields and move objects on a certain level, but precise molecular manipulation??? That's too much. The film shows that there's seemingly no limitation to his power, which makes his defeat at the end a rather lazy cop-out.
  11. While the film clearly shows the playful, charming side of Peter, (evident when he jokes while fighting the villains) where's the nerdy side of him? Totally absent. Peter, a science genius who invented the web-shooters himself, need YouTube videos to tell him battery properties and a reminder from Gwen about magnetism??
  12. It's a sequel and they never address the limitation of the web shooter device and the need to replenish them in battle.

Previous Review: That Demon Within
Next Review: Godzilla


  1. I absolutely loved the previous film, so I'm sure Marc Webb will surprise me again with the sequel. I think I'll go see it next week.

    By the way, I've been reading most of your recent posts, and I really enjoyed your comments on Captain America: The Winter Soldier. I just wrote a short review about it; in case you're interested you can check it out here:


    1. how about this film? you've watched it?

  2. This comment has been removed by the author.

  3. i have been following your review for couples of months, it is honest to say that your review is objectively excellent and good to read. I often have same thought with you regarding to some points of view, i really enjoy seeing your articles.
    Back to the topic about this film, i am rather dissapointed about this film indeed since the friendships, love story and the development of character is weak, the way of conveyance of the story by the director is not that good.
    In fact, Emma Stone is very gorgeous compared to Mary Jane in Toby Maguire's series of Spiderman. But the Amazing Spiderman really cant defeat the old trilogy of Spiderman as there are thousands of reasons in supporting the old trilogy.
    If Gwen were not die at the end of the story, the movie is too bad. By the way, it is still better than the Amazing Spiderman 1.

    1. Thanks for reading. The reason for me to keep writing reviews for films is to express my views and thoughts about them.

      As a fan's perspective, Gwen needs to die to add emotional weight to his future relationship with Mary Jane. The Amazing Spider-Man reboot suppose to allow the filmmakers to correct past failure and improve on the original, but now it seems to me that they're messing it up and make it even worse than before. It's a shame, to be honest.

    2. Ya agreeable. How do you think about Toby Maguire's series?

    3. For Sam Raimi's series with Toby Maguire as Spider-Man, the character development is better. There's more groundwork established for Peter and Harry's friendship, the relationship between Peter and Mary Jane, etc. It has a lighter tone, more comic-book feel to it compared to the Amazing Series. It doesn't strictly follow the comic book and did make some changes, but I'm fine with it. (organic web instead of mechanical web-shooters, Mary Jane is his first love, etc)

      The story flow is more well-handled (except Spiderman 3, I hated it because of how they mishandled Venom character, make Peter a goofy guy and retconned Uncle Ben's death). Less subplots and more focused to the central story about Peter Parker. There's more iconic scenes compared to Amazing series.

      Moreover, because it's one of the few comic book film adaptation released at that time, it was considered as one of the best series. To me, neither considered the best Spider-Man series ever made. But, if you ask me to compare with both series and which one is better, I would definitely prefer Sam Raimi's Spider-Man series with Toby as Spidey.