Rushed into development by Sony before they lost the rights to the character, 2012’s The Amazing Spider-Man was unsettlingly familiar, the previous incarnation of the web-slinger having been on screen just five years prior. This sequel works hard to establish a more unique flavour, but it’s lacking in other ways, a tonal mishmash that never quite coheres into a good movie.
On the positive side, they get Spider-man totally right. A charming, quippy goofball, he’s constantly putting himself in harm’s way to protect the citizens of New York.
Why then, is Peter Parker such an insufferable jerk? He’s even more self-centred this time, forever whining his feelings at people for no discernible reason. On top of absent-parent issues he has uncle issues and girlfriend issues, and they’re all very boring. Andrew Garfield mumbling around his lines rather than delivering them doesn’t help the already overstuffed 142-minute run time.
Emma Stone is fine as Gwen Stacy, and there’s been an effort to make her more than just a girlfriend-in-peril, but it’s largely perfunctory.
The villains are rendered in such broad strokes they almost belong in one of Joel Schumacher’s campy Batman films, but they do provide some good entertainment. Whether it’s the score breaking into Electro’s personal dubstep song (complete with lyrics narrating his thoughts), or Paul Giamatti shouting as loud as he can for the entirety of his screen time, at least they’re not dull.
There are stretches of the film that are lovingly-rendered CGI spectacle – acts of heroism in super slo-mo. And they are fine, and nice to look at. But a feeling of redundancy hangs over the whole thing. The Amazing Spider-Man 2 tries hard to justify its presence, but with far too much angst and not enough to invest in, it fails.