Box Office Democracy: “The Amazing Spider-Man 2”
Movies based on comic books have had to fight a practically never-ending battle for respectability but, for now at least, it seems that they’ve won. Superheroes are hot commodities at the box office and studios have embraced the idea that making them more like their source material is preferable to making movies that anger the core fanbase for an attempt to appeal to the mainstream. The Amazing Spider-Man 2 is what happens when that faithfulness goes too far and instead of making a simple movie filmmakers try and cram in all of the ancillary subplots of an ongoing series with none of the capacity to pay any of those threads off.
There are simply too many bits of ongoing plot to satisfy me when these films can only come out every two years. Stop teasing me on the Sinister Six if you can’t give me one compelling villain in this movie. Stop giving me the mystery of Peter Parker’s parents when you can neither give Aunt May enough space nor have Peter remember the death of his uncle. You can’t give me a bunch of seemingly seemingly random footage of an imperiled airplane in the middle of the climactic battle. There’s no “unless” for that last sentence they just can’t do that, that’s bad storytelling.
I could have watched an entire movie of Spider-Man going up against Electro if they’d given Electro a little more time. His motivation seems flimsy and his character makes some big turns that don’t seem completely earned. It’s a shame because Jamie Foxx is a real actor and there’s no reason he couldn’t have given a classic performance like Alfred Molina or Willem Dafoe. Instead he comes off an awful lot like Catwoman from Batman Returns and while that’s entirely meant as an insult it isn’t fresh and it isn’t Electro. They gave us half of an Electro story and half of a Harry Osborn story and neither feels satisfying on their own.
It’s too bad that the villains don’t work because the protagonists are fantastic. Andrew Garfield and Emma Stone are such a dramatic upgrade over Tobey Maguire and Kirsten Dunst and are the best couple in any current movie franchise. Their chemistry is electric and they do every part of the superhero relationship so well from the peril to the comedy to the drama. She also asserts herself upon the plot in a way that isn’t typical for the usual hostage girlfriends. It’s really a shame she’s cursed with the last name Stacy.
Ultimately Amazing Spider-Man 2 suffers from a lack of passion. This movie doesn’t exist because someone has an idea that they have to get on film this movie exists so that Sony keeps the rights to Spider-Man from reverting back to Marvel. This isn’t a work of art— it’s a tax return filed and no amount of money or talent can make it feel essential.