The Critical Couple Reviews “The Amazing Spider-Man 2”
Watching movies may be one of America's most popular date-night activities, but it can also be one of the most contentious. That's where critics and real-life couple Roy and Adriane step in, putting their relationship on the line so you don't have to.
When The Amazing Spider-Man was first announced in 2012, my Spidey senses weren’t tingling. Rebooting the franchise five years after Sam Raimi’s last bow felt like a widower looking for action at his wife’s funeral. The first installment didn’t prove me wrong. But with The Amazing Spider-Man 2, this new franchise finds a reason to exist and takes a big bite out of the heels of its predecessor. Sorry, Sam.
The swooshes, standoffs, and kablooeys are top shelf. They’re staged with kinetic fluidity instead of Michael Bay chop-chop, and the whole shebang looks great. But it’s the cast, not the effects, that keep this engine running. Everybody (except maybe Tobey Maguire’s mom) knows by now that Andrew Garfield is the superior Peter Parker. He’s so damn charming that you want to hate him, but you can’t. Speaking of trade-ups, Dane DeHaan spikes the ball on James Franco’s grave in the role of Harry Osborn, Peter’s childhood friend/future Green Goblin nemesis. But the things that hinder The Amazing Spider-Man 2 are the exact things that crippled Spider-Man 3. It has too many villains—including Jamie Foxx as Electro—and it juggles too many plot lines. Warts and all, it’s still a major improvement over the first picture and heartier than most popcorn fodder has a right to be. – ★★★
The Amazing Spider-Man 2 is bloated, littered with product placement, and clearly made for somebody half my age. All that aside, it’s surprisingly entertaining. The biggest thing this movie has going for it is a charismatic cast—something the previous Spider-Man franchise lacked—who manage to successfully toe the line between high drama and camp. This is especially true of the two leads. The relationship between Peter Parker and Gwen Stacy (Emma Stone) is one of the better teenage romances I’ve seen in recent years, combining the awkward sweetness of a John Hughes film with the rapid-fire dialogue of a screwball comedy. Of course, maybe I’m overhyping it because the otherworldly stink of the Twilight series is still so fresh in my mind.
In fact, The Amazing Spider-Man 2 works better as a coming-of-age film than it does as a big-budget comic-book flick. With the exception of the climactic battle, which features a spoiler that I dare not discuss in detail, the action set pieces aren’t particularly interesting unless you enjoy watching a grown man swing from building to building yelling “Whee!” In the end, if you can make it through the humdrum Spider-Man scenes, you’re left with a pretty compelling movie about Peter Parker. – ★★★
As far as summer box-office bait goes, you could do way worse than The Amazing Spider-Man 2. Despite its flaws, this movie has something for just about everybody. There are explosions and Schwarzenegger-esque one-liners for the action fan, and there's love, loss, and a silly montage set to emo music for the rom-com buff. There's even a scene where Jamie Foxx gets attacked by electric eels, and who doesn't secretly want to see that?
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