Film Review: The Amazing Spiderman 2 (2014)

The Amazing Spiderman 2
The Amazing Spiderman
continues to distance itself from the Sam Raimi trilogy. Yet again, Mary Jane Watson remains absent from the picture. Instead, Gwen Stacy (Emma Stone) continues as Peter Parker’s (Andrew Garfield) love interest. This may come as a surprise since Shailene Woodley filmed a couple of scenes as Mary Jane.

However, her scenes were cut from the final film. Director Marc Webb explains that he felt the relationship between Peter and Gwen was sacred. Hence, he didn’t want to take away from their relationship by introducing Mary Jane. Others have speculated that the producers felt Shailene was miscast and asked for her removal. To add more credence to the latter, Webb was hesitant to confirm Woodley’s appearance in the later films.

In this case, I think the decision to exclude Mary Jane was appropriate. The film already suffers from a convoluted plot and too many character introductions. One of the film’s strengths is the relationship between Peter and Gwen.  The director of 500 Days of Summer shows his command of chemistry and romance. However, this relationship often plays second fiddle to the villains of the film. One of Peter Parker’s greatest battles is with himself.

“With great power comes great responsibility.”

Peter has always battled with his responsibilities as a hero and his desire to live a normal life. Peter struggles to keep his promise to the late Captain Stacy, and he continues to unravel the mystery behind his parents. Instead of elaborating on these core elements, the film goes off on a tangent. Either a villain is introduced, or Gwen Stacy for some reason decides to go to Oxford. It seems that the film’s central purpose was to introduce characters in an effort to prolong the series. Felicia Hardy (Felicity Jones) will become the Black Cat, Rhino comes prematurely at the end of the film, and the Green Goblin makes a lack lustre first impression.

Dane Dehaan as Harry Osborn

Webb’s Amazing Spiderman initially set out to be more faithful to the comics;  the source material. Spiderman confronts his enemies with web slingers and a welcomed sense of humour. Despite a promising reboot, the franchise seems to be going in the wrong direction. At times it seems reminiscent of the 90’s Batman films. Big stars are being cast to fill roles and deliver hokey performances. Dane Dehaan comes off as a kid throwing a fit in a grocery store. Instead of whining for a chocolate bar, Harry Osborn wants Spiderman’s blood.

I hope this film doesn’t signal the start of a slippery slope. Before we know it, we’ll be hearing one liners like, “What killed the dinosaurs? The Ice Age!” Okay maybe that’s being a bit excessive but still, the Amazing Spiderman 2  favours style over substance. Sure the visuals of Spidey slinging around town are pretty cool. But, at the end of the day it’s all smoke and mirrors. The special effects only serve as a distraction to inferior story telling.

The film’s plot was all over the place and lacked focus. Even the trailers referred to plot points that were never delivered. Parker under surveillance and Norman Osborn’s reference to “not everyone has a happy ending” were all missing from the final version. It’s apparent that the writers were too ambitious and wanted to include too much. Webb’s Amazing Spiderman had breadth and not much depth.