A colossal bore. The Amazing Spiderman 2 has high-sky superhero swinging, but is it ever dramatically messy and wearisome at 142 minutes in length. And I would have never expected that almost all the performances are tone-deaf awful. Andrew Garfield (as Peter Parker a.k.a. Spiderman) and Emma Stone (as Gwen Stacy) break-up within a couple scenes of the start, and in dopey screenwriting fashion, spend a large portion of the movie musing why they should get back together. Garfield acts in phony fear or disbelief during action or personal relationship scenes throughout, prompting me to think the actor is smarter than this character. Tobey Maguire was dopey but charming before they did the reboot, and I never thought I’d say this, but his humble appeal is missed.
Many other performances are terrible. Dane DeHaan comes off as a druggie in a skateboarder movie as childhood friend turned enemy Harry Osborne, who (spare me) is dying of a genetic disease now and needs new blood to survive. He propositions Spiderman for blood, but when he is rejected, he goes after lab blood and transforms into the Green Goblin. The darker the character gets, the worse DeHaan’s irksome, impotent performance becomes. Bad acting doesn’t end there. Jamie Foxx (thud!) comes off as a cross between Richard Pryor in “Superman III” (1983) and Cuba Gooding, Jr. in “Radio” (2003), as a dweeb company man who becomes nemesis Electro. Sally Field as Peter’s aunt is clueless and concerned in many annoying and charmless scenes.
Now I want to come back to Garfield and Stone, meandering and moping through a bunch of scenes about how he can only protect her by abandoning her. But, of course, they get back together because they depend on one another. One stupid scene is of Gwen dodging authorities in the company lab but turning a corner and hiding in what appears to be a switchboard closet (with Peter’s help, of course). In the climax, she gets snatched by the Green Goblin and then knocked off a high beam from Electro, a situation she put herself in. This is right out of the Marvel comics, but that doesn’t mean it’s convincingly played here. Stone with her timid demeanor is not cut out for big adventure, so I can’t believe she volunteers to be around danger in the first place.
The whole movie is loudly overdone, and the switch between heavy rock music and classical music is clashing aural dressing. The CGI is overblown in ways that in some shots used so much, making it tacky and abrasive. But if this sequel fails anywhere it’s the lack of exciting heroism, which is hardly seen outside an opening scene against a Russian mad thief played by Paul Giamatti (to become nemesis Rhino in the next installment), and the one big fight of Spiderman against two lousy villains that makes us wait until the end. The huge middle portion of the movie is grating and whiny, oh my Marvel, is it ever. Denis Leary also haunts Peter from the dead, too, as the man who was Gwen’s dad.
In another plot current, I almost forgot, we still have to watch the insufferable Peter mull over the circumstances of his parents’ death (Campbell Scott and Embeth Davidtz’s demise is one of the first scenes). Aunt May finally has a sit down talk with Peter at one point, and explains why the FBI visited the house when Peter was young in regards to his parents’ circumstances. Why hasn’t the FBI figured out since then that Peter Parker is Spiderman?
The screenplay for “The Amazing Spiderman 2” is disastrous. It’s also an example of how superhero movies at large are becoming insanely overblown, often protracted to ungainly lengths. It’s getting to the point where I’m wondering if we are headed towards a three-hour comic book movie that’s similarly all puff! Galling and mind-numbing, this is the worst superhero movie I can remember since “Fantastic Four: Rise of the Silver Surfer” (2007).
142 Minutes. Rated PG-13.
ACTION & ADVENTURE / SUPERHERO / WEEKEND DINNER AND FAMILY MOVIE
Film Cousins: “Spiderman” (2002); “Spiderman 2” (2004); “Spiderman 3” (2007); “The Amazing Spiderman” (2012).