Superhero movies have been having a pretty good run in the last few years. From Christopher Nolan’s Batman trilogy, Marvel’s fascinating extended universe, the beautiful ultraviolence of Kickass, or the visually stunning masterworks of Scott Pilgrim Vs. The World and Watchmen; comic book movies have been facing a golden age. Unfortunately, this movie is the genre’s titanic combo breaker. After Sam Raimi’s mostly great trilogy and 2012’s merely OK The Amazing Spiderman, the reboot/sequel manages to be a monumental disaster in blockbuster filmmaking.
This is not a movie, so I’ll refrain from calling it one. The Amazing Spiderman 2 doesn’t tell a story. It’s a collection of disjointed moments pretending to be a narrative while playing like a 140 minute trailer for Sony’s Spiderman Universe. There are no scenes. Just a bunch of teasers disguising spin-off potential. There is no character development. The characters just continue onto other scenes. A bunch of plot points happen so we can jump from A to B and the next action scene with no consequence or resonance. 140 minutes and $10 later (even more in 3D). Goofy Kendrick Lamar song over the credits. Sequel.
Explaining the plot isn’t necessary because there isn’t one. But here’s my best shot. Peter Parker/Spiderman continues to be really cool, have a lot of villains want to kill him, and have relationship problems too because even Spidermen are human. Jamie Foxx is a socially awkward Oscorp employee who turns into a Nu-metal Dubstep version of Dr. Manhattan after falling into a pit of eels and gets angry because he wants to be as cool as Spiderman. Peter solves a mystery involving his parents that nobody gives a shit about because two movies later it’s still laughably underdeveloped. Peter also discusses important plot points with his childhood friend Harry Osborne where we learn nothing about their friendship. People fight. And did I forget to mention that the moral of the story douchily comes off as, “Whatever. Being Spiderman is REALLY COOL?”
The Amazing Spiderman 2 laughs in the face of logic. In a battle scene where live ammunition is being fired out of a gigantic robotic suit, onlookers (Some with children) casually stand behind a police barricade watching it all happen as if being shot to death wasn’t remotely a threat. Plot-holes are so enormous that you begin to question whether the term “proof-reading” exists in Hollywood. After one of the film’s central fight scenes, we cutaway to a TV where an onlooker who happens to be good at science panderingly explains how Spiderman survived because oops we forgot to show the audience. Tone isn’t necessary because it’s just wild emotional veering into whatever it feels like doing. Sometimes we get dubstep where Pharrell whispers nu-metal vocals because it’s down with the kids. Then we swerve into scenes attempting to be heartfelt and dramatic, followed by bad jokes and puns that would make Mr. Freeze cringe. Somehow all of this is done by actual living actors. This disaster experience borders on full surrealism.
It’s hard to talk about a mess that’s nearly 2 and a half hours where nothing really happens, so let’s get to the positives. The Amazing Spiderman 2 did have one truly emotional moment. Unfortunately, this wasn’t during an actual scene but the brutal realization that some truly talented cast members are trapped in this desperate hellhole of a franchise until Sony inevitably reboot it. Andrew Garfield, Emma Stone, and Dane DeHaan are all excellent, but they deserve to be in something better than this. Sometimes, there are moments where you can see hints of what this franchise could be. But unfortunately that involves wading through cinematic dogshit for the sake of mere adequacy, an experience I wouldn’t recommend to anybody.
Somehow people repeat expensive mistakes. Spiderman 3’s “too many villains” problem was widely seen as an easy mistake to avoid for future installments. Amazing Spiderman 2 elevates the “too many villains” problem to it’s illogical nadir. Instead of a superhero movie trying and failing, we’re treated to design-by-committee filmmaking devoid of vision or soul. If anything good comes of this abysmal garbage, maybe it will give Sony the wake-up call to give a shit about this franchise’s quality before it’s too late. But given they’re allowing the same hack screenwriters to work on the sequel, we may need to prepare our eulogies.