Film Review of the Week: The Amazing Spiderman 2

Apologies folks, but generic Spiderman movies beget generic Spiderman movie reviews. Such is the case with The Amazing Spiderman 2, a competent and often fun superhero flick in which co-stars Andrew Garfield and Emma Stone sizzle with Oscorpian chemistry, but which is otherwise indistinguishable from its Spiderman predecessors. The landscapes, the villains, the conflicts, the colors, the hundred thousand plot lines, even the CGI: they all seem like reproductions and variations on truly dead-horse themes. The film opens areawide on Friday.

This sequel to 2012's Amazing Spiderman reboot begins with Peter and Gwen graduating from high school and facing the question that confronts all high school sweethearts: Will they (and can they) stay together? The uncertainty and potential of their lives ahead serve as really profitable emotional undercurrents — the rom-dram scenes between Garfield and Stone are by far the movie's high points.

Meanwhile, a lonely wackadoodle electrical engineer named Maxwell Dillon (Jamie Foxx, with a curly comb over) becomes "Electro" after an Oscorp mishap. Dillon was a Spiderman fanatic who becomes hell-bent on destroying him when he decides, instantaneously, during a Times Square standoff, that Spiderman is actually an attention hog. Electro, after imprisonment, then teams up with a lately returned Harry Osborn (an inconsistently creepy Dane DeHaan) — and "returned from where?" is anybody's guess — to infiltrate Oscorp and steal Spiderman's blood, which Harry is convinced will save him from a genetic condition that causes oozing neck lesions and a blooming tycoon's alcoholism.  

So a fun game to play during the flick is: "What exactly is this movie's plot?" Hints: Don't be confused by the initial 10-minute flashback sequence with Peter Parker's parents. Don't get excited by Paul Giamatti's cameo very early in the film. And for that matter, don't get all that excited about Electro. He's the movie's primary villain and though he operates as a sort of Senator Palpatine/Dr. Manhattan hybrid, with formidable powers, his origin story and motives are so lame and incidental to the larger Spidey narratives that he seems like a distraction.

What you really ought to get excited about is watching Garfield and Stone in their scenes together. The movie is really a love story — at times a moving one, despite Hollywood's insistence on making recent high school grads privy to advanced scientific knowledge and thirtysomethings' fashion sensibilities — their chemistry has been compared dotingly to Spencer Tracy and Katharine Hepburn's; though that may be a stretch, their real-life romance has obviously benefited their love onscreen.

Other than that, the film is a muddled two-and-a-half hours long, so one more fun way to pass the time is to tally total plot lines vs. number of scenes with Garfield in tears. The results may surprise you! — Sam Allard

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Sam Allard

Sam Allard is the Senior Writer at Scene, in which capacity he covers politics and power and writes about movies when time permits. He's a graduate of the Medill School of Journalism at Northwestern University and the NEOMFA at Cleveland State. Prior to joining Scene, he was encamped in Sarajevo, Bosnia, on an...
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