Starring: Andrew Garfield, Emma Stone, Jamie Foxx
Director: Marc Webb
Running Time: 141 mins
The Amazing Spider-Man 2 is an American film and the sequel to The Amazing Spider-Man. Still wrestling with uncertainties from his past, Peter Parker must balance personal conflicts with a fight against two new villains, who threaten to destroy the entirety of New York City.
Following on from Sam Raimi’s rightly beloved trilogy, Marc Webb’s The Amazing Spider-Man was such a disappointment. Its sequel, however, is a lot better. While by no means a return to the soaring heights of Raimi’s films, this is a pretty entertaining, action-packed blockbuster with a lot more character depth, and far, far better villains than last time around.
Well, when I say better villains than The Amazing Spider-Man, there’s not much competition. Rhys Ifans’ Lizard was one of the most boring superhero adversaries I’ve ever seen, so The Amazing Spider-Man 2 easily manages to improve on that with two villains for Peter Parker to face off against.
The central baddie is Electro, played by Jamie Foxx. The character isn’t enormously interesting, but he does have a more emotionally resonant story arc, going from an overlooked electrical engineer to an all-powerful villain who is aiming to make up for all the years he spent living in the shadow of others. And what’s more, there are a genuinely interesting few moments where it looks as if Peter Parker is going to be able to get through to him, making Electro more than just another CGI monster.
Meanwhile, this film tries to rekindle the story of Peter Parker and his best friend Harry Osborn’s doomed friendship, which was played out so well over the three films of Sam Raimi’s trilogy. Unfortunately, that side of the story in The Amazing Spider-Man 2 is rather ham-fisted and rushed, with a performance from Dane DeHaan as Harry Osborn that never matches the level of Andrew Garfield’s Peter Parker, and often becomes overshadowed by Foxx’s Electro throughout the film.
So, while the villains are definitely better than the last movie, they’re still not handled perfectly, and contribute to what does occasionally feel like a bit of a messy blockbuster that lacks the consistently engaging emotional depth of the best Spider-Man movies.
With all that said, however, there’s one part of The Amazing Spider-Man 2 that thankfully delivers on its promise. After a disappointingly simplistic look into it in the first film, this sequel puts a lot of focus on Peter Parker’s relationship with Gwen Stacy, bringing real stakes into the mix alongside complex emotional depth.
That makes their partnership so much more interesting throughout the film, and Gwen then gets the chance to play an interesting and important role in the movie’s action finale, just as Mary-Jane did in the finales of all three Sam Raimi films.
Peter and Gwen’s relationship is really touching in this movie, and The Amazing Spider-Man 2 gives them a lot of time on screen together, making their story more than just the easy-going side note that it was in the previous film. And with that, there’s at least some narrative depth and intrigue to carry you through this film.
For the most part, The Amazing Spider-Man 2 is still a far cry from the brilliance of Sam Raimi’s Spider-Man movies, but it at least has something interesting to offer. With good action, better villains and a more emotionally captivating story, this isn’t the boring, one-dimensional mess that its predecessor was, although it still struggles to fulfil the immense potential of what could be a great story. So, that’s why I’m giving The Amazing Spider-Man 2 a 7.0 overall.