Spider-Man is one superhero I have never had any affinity for, despite having one of the better backstories in the Marvel universe. Nevertheless, I didn’t dislike the first installment of Marc Webb’s reboot, and similarly, I didn’t dislike The Amazing Spider-Man 2. But for whatever reason, the talents of Andrew Garfield and Emma Stone are really the only thing that endear me and my wallet to this franchise, with everything else going on around them acting as mere filler.
One thing that irritated me slightly with this sequel, and honestly, it happens a lot with middle film syndrome, is its lack of connective tissue to The Amazing Spider-Man. Instead of being a second act, The Amazing Spider-Man 2 is more concerned with setting up the subsequent film in this franchise reboot. It does this by introducing a couple new villains: Electro (Jamie Foxx), Green Goblin (Dane DeHaan), and Rhino (Paul Giamatti) while hinting at others that will show their face in number three, and together all form a kick-ass super villain team. But wait, what about Peter Parker, Gwen Stacey, and Aunt May? Each has their own subplot going on that kind of relates to the conflict brewing with said villains, but really, the story lines are intended to maneuver the characters, good and bad, to where they need to be for what we can only anticipate will be a balls to the wall extravaganza come number three.
Garfield is Spider-Man to me, and as much as I enjoyed Raimi’s films (and that was before I got into the Marvel universe) Maguire was not convincing as a superhero. Garfield’s chemistry with Stone is palpable, and a delight to watch despite the little they are afforded by the filmmakers. Stone plays Gwen Stacey well, but unfortunately for her, she is playing Gwen in a time where everyone is hyper vigilant about the portrayal of female characters in superhero films, and it shows. The screenwriters try to throw her a bone, and Stone does what she can, but it leaves you wanting something more and better for her in the end. I’m curious what the arrival of Mary Jane will do, but from the little I understand of the character, I’m not expecting much in terms of refreshing female roles.
I want to comment on the special effects, that I can only imagine will get even more insane probably at the cost of some other components that make a great film. This film looks pretty good, and I say that assuming that it will look better in 2D, because I didn’t find the 3D to be that noteworthy. Maybe it’s fatigue, maybe it’s something else entirely, but I just wasn’t feeling it.
I didn’t find The Amazing Spider-Man 2 to be unwatchable, and the sheer scale prompts me to say I like it a little better than the first. I chalk it up to Garfield and Stone in the end. But unlike Captain America, or The Avengers, this franchise is sorely missing that special ingredient that leaves me salivating for more.
The Amazing Spider-Man 2 opens today in Philly area theaters.