The Amazing Spider-Man 2 comes 2 years after its prequel, which was a reboot of the Spider-Man series. I personally loved the first movie and although it’s not a perennial favorite, I definitely preferred it over the previous franchise. Director Marc Webb is back with the second installment where our hero, Spider-Man has more formidable villains to face, multiple antagonists to fight, more lives to save, and still get back to being Peter Parker and balance his relationship with his girlfriend. Haven’t we seen that before? Maybe. Because all superheroes have the same problems but although there is nothing new in the foundation, it’s the way it’s presented that makes it new.
While the first movie introduced our superhero, this one delves deeper into his personal life and the consequences a superhero’s life brings. Peter has been hallucinating his girlfriend’s dad to whom he had promised to stay away from her. But breaking the promise and the imminent danger to his loved ones because of his secret identity makes him waver about staying with her. Meanwhile, an obsessed fan of Spider-Man, who is never given enough recognition falls victim to a terrible accident that grants him power to control electricity. Believing that Spider-Man set him up, he turns against Spider-Man. There is also a subplot about Harry Osborne, Peter’s childhood friend who is dying from some genetic disease and is convinced that only Spider-Man’s blood can save him. When Spider-Man refuses to grant him his blood fearing repercussions, Harry seeks reprisal against Spider-Man. It’s not the best of plots but Webb pulls it off successfully with a bunch of talented actors and adept script writers. Whenever the movie starts getting tedious, the witty dialogue or the engaging script or the stunning action comes to rescue. The movie as a whole works, but some elements were just not right.
My biggest problem with this movie is the villains. The poster of the movie says “his greatest battle”. The antagonists were being referred to as “the avengers of villains” on the Internet, with Electro, Green goblin and Rhino attacking Spidey. It seemed like all this was really going to challenge Spider-Man in the way Batman was challenged by the Joker. I mean, it’s his “greatest battle”. Unfortunately, Electro was not smart enough to be a worthy match for Spider-Man. I really don’t approve of how electro kept talking to himself to let audience know how he felt, it seems stupid actually. The CG graphics applied on Electro was really abysmal. It looked like a failed attempt at recreating Dr. Manhattan from Zack Snyder’s Watchmen. The next villain, Goblin, felt completely redundant. In fact, Harry Osborne’s subplot (despite Dane DeHaan’s superb acting) itself felt extended and the movie could do much better without this superfluous element. The goblin’s costume isn’t that impressive either. The metamorphosis into fierce monsters is poorly shot for both major villains with flashing lights and undiscernible close ups. Besides, the villains had separate interests and never took on Spider-Man together. So they were never a team like the avengers, which would have been interesting to watch. Secondly, the villains weren’t all that hard to defeat and didn’t encumber Spidey enough to make it his greatest battle. They didn’t even have such impregnable plans that would make Spider-Man think. Moreover, they had ludicrous reasons for fighting Spider-Man. Electro fought him because he wanted to be seen by people like Spider-Man was. Goblin because Spider-Man would not donate his blood fearing fierce side effects. Thirdly, Spider-Man is too cool fighting such supposedly sinister enemies. I know Spidey is a cool superhero unlike Batman, but this is supposed to be his greatest battle. The gravity of the situation is never felt. While fighting Electro in his final battle, Electro attacks Spidey with the cadence of the song “The Itsy Bitsy Spider”and Spidey says “I hate this song”. Is it the time for that? It needn’t be as serious as the Dark Knight but some lines with sense of humor just don’t fit.
The movie also suffers from comic book clichés. The plan Spidey comes up with to defeat Electro is strikingly similar to the one Iron-Man does in Iron Man(2008). Scenes like the one where a brave kid challenges Rhino reminded me of bollywood ‘masala‘ movies. Even the scene, where Electro gets livid while people cheer for Spider-Man and screens in Times Square display Spider-Man instead of him, seems ridiculous. Few more inane scenes and Goblin’s costume take away the element of reality from the movie, making it too comic-bookish. I’m not saying it must all be pensive but it can afford to be more real (Captain America 2 for example).
Now, let’s get to the the good parts. First of all, it’s a lot of fun, especially the parts where Peter tries to come up with lies to hide his identity (he says he washed the American flag when his aunt asks why he turned everything red and blue while doing his laundry). The action scenes are riveting. It’s a pleasure to watch Spider-Man swing from sky scrapers. The opening sequence where he tries to stop a Russian mob is especially amazing. But nothing is as good as the romantic plot which will make you laugh and grieve and root for the protagonists. In the end, you almost feel like you watched a romantic movie with some superhero subplot. In the acting department, Garfield and Stone do a decent job as the leads but its Dane DeHaan as Harry who steals the show. Even though I felt his character’s presence was gratuitous, his acting is commendable. He brings a chilling evil touch to his affluent, arrogant and desperate character, Harry Osborne. Jamie Fox might have acted well but you can’t tell because the graphics is so bad you can’t see any expression.
It’s not a perfect movie and has a lot of flaws but it does not disappoint an objective critic. Yes, the plot is overstuffed and feels messy after a while. It also feels interminable towards the end when one villain after another keeps attacking our hero. But the romance is impeccable and Webb proves again that his forte lies in the romantic scenes.