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Last night I attended the Australian premiere of The Amazing Spider-Man 2, and because it won’t be released in the US for another two weeks, I had to hand in my phone. My phone’s my only way of telling the time, and during the movie, I constantly felt like grabbing for my phone to check how late it was. The movie felt like it was taking forever.

When I finally exited the cinema, I got my phone back and yep, I was right. The movie didn’t only feel like it lasted forever, it actually did: almost 2.5 hours. Okay, that’s not forever, but it’s extremely long for a Spider-Man film. In The Amazing Spider-Man 2 Peter Parker, aka Spider-Man, battles not one, not two, but three villains (well, if you count various other random acts of vigilantism, it’s a lot more). When they introduced the final one I begged for the credits.

While I’m not entirely negative about The Amazing Spider-Man 2, it sure has many flaws and it too often borders on all-round ridiculousness.

This review is largely spoiler-free.

That Comic Book Feel

I saw this movie in 3D, and it has to be said, those shots where Spidey is soaring through the Manhattan sky were quite the visual treats. In fact, the use of 3D was well done in general; it felt natural. The special effects were generally pretty good and the lighting was on-point. Together with the use of highly saturated colors, it gave the movie that comic feel we have come to expect from these comic book adaptations.

Dane DeHaan is a Rising Star and Sally Field is Still a Star

I’ve said it before and I’m sticking to it: Dane DeHaan is a rising star. DeHaan delivers his vicious character, Harry Osborn, very well. He’s annoying, creepy and convincing. I can’t wait to see his James Dean in Life - I’m sure he’s going to prove the world he’s got the chops to be not just a good actor, but a great one. If I have to sit through another Amazing Spider-Man film (and it looks like we’ll have to) they’d better bring Dane back.

 source: Sony Pictures

source: Sony Pictures

As for Sally Field, she’s amazing and will always be. She provides a much needed balance in the movie – she’s the only one that manages to take the level ridiculousness down a notch. Her Aunt May is genuine and funny, and just all-round lovely, which can’t be said for most of the characters in this black-and-white comic book world.

Electro is a Disappointment

It’s unfortunate, as he’s the lead, but throughout the movie, it becomes increasingly clear that Andrew Garfield doesn’t have what it takes to take his performance to the next level. While he delivers the typical Spider-Man spry, witty comments quite well (although they’re rather ill-placed and annoying at times), having to watch him do emotional scenes is awkward and uncomfortable. Nevertheless, I still think he was a good choice for Peter Parker/Spider-Man – he has that funny cuteness that appeals to so many.

A major disappointment is Electro (Jamie Foxx). While the SFX are amazing and Electro is one of the most spectacular villains I’ve seen when it comes to his powers, it’s one of the worst written villains, ever, too. Max Dillon represents every cliché about people with low social skills – it’s ridiculous and even insulting, and a waste of Jamie Foxx‘s talents. Dillon’s motives that turn him into a Manhattan-demolishing killer are weak to say the least, and his behavior towards the other characters is erratic. But, yes, he’s undeniably very cool.

source: Sony Pictures

source: Sony Pictures

Poor Writing Results in Ridiculous Characters and Xenophobic Clichés

Honestly, most of the flaws of this movie can be blamed on the poor script. While the plot is pretty straightforward Spider-Man vs Villains, the writers dropped the ball when it comes to character construction (the problem not only lies with Electro – the Green Goblin goes from annoying kid to crazed villain just as haphazardly). It’s like they assume, just because the whole world already knows the Spider-Man world anyway, the characters don’t need viable, convincing motives for their actions. People are just innately good or evil.

More proof of poor writing is the absolutely awful character that is Dr. Kafka (Marton Csokas). He’s a doctor of an institution for the criminally insane, has a German accent (trust me, Germans do NOT sound like this when they speak English) – he’s also a sort of frivolous figure with an inclination to lipstick. Pouting his purply-pink lips, he speaks about just vanzing zhelp, and then continuing his torture practices. It’s 2014, for fuck’s sake. Can Hollywood PLEASE get past these outdated Nazi-inspired clichés and caricatures? It’s not as funny as they think it is – it’s just plain ridiculous, archaic and xenophobic.

This “German” doctor is not the only example of xenophobia in The Amazing Spider-Man 2 - he isn’t the only “stranger” (foreign and possibly gay – very xeno) who’s presented as inherently evil. Paul Giamatti plays the Russian mobster Aleksei Sytsevich (The Rhino), another character with no motives to do evil other than that he IS evil. With foreigners and minorities represented in films like this, it’s like Hollywood still wants to convince the audience that foreigners = bad. Or, in the case of the Osborns, elites = bad. Don’t trust the “other”. They will hurt you and come for your loved ones, and take your belongings! Fear! Fear everywhere! Just what we need, another movie that inspires fear of the other, in a global society that’s so big on it.

Maybe the writers just stuck to old Spider-Man lore, I don’t know, I never read the comics and can’t remember the cartoons that well. But if it were up to me, I’d think of more original back stories for these villains. Oh well. Call me a cynic, but xenophobia’s not going to disappear from film any time soon – whether evil is represented in the ever inherently evil German or in the currently inherently evil Muslim.

Random Bystanders are Seriously Very Daft

I won’t go into detail, but at a certain point in the movie, a major battle takes place on Times Square. This is presented like a sort of cage fight, although unlike a cage fight, the audience may die. The spectators of this battle, though, need crowd control barriers to prevent them from running into the fray. They’re filming, taking pictures, cheering and booing for whichever contestant that strikes their fancy (or not) at that moment. Moms in the audience even have their babies in their arms.

Normal people? They would run. Personally, I would get the HELL away from a battle like that. The bystanders in The Amazing Spider-Man 2 don’t run when they come across two people with super powers destroying the city center; they stay to watch. When they do start to run is when the power to the city is cut: they run like the apocalypse is impending (or as if they’re being chased by zombies). Where are they even running? Sounds to me like these fictional citizens of Manhattan do not have their priorities straight. Sounds to me like poor writing.

source: Sony Pictures

source: Sony Pictures

THANK GOD (I quote), when the power is turned back on. And  THANK GOD we have Spidey to save us all – the police forces are as dumb and worthless as the bystanders. And why do we never see the military in the Spider-Man films? The cops are so incompetent you’d expect the military to step up, but instead, everyone is literally begging for Spider-Man to fight crime and protect the innocent. It’s quite baffling.

Vigilantism is an interesting phenomenon that keeps on returning in film now that the superhero movies (and before it ended, Dexter) are so immensely popular. Discussing it would require (and deserve) an entire article on its own, which we should definitely do.

To Conclude

The Amazing Spider-Man 2 may be mildly entertaining, visually pretty and features Electro – a villain with one of the coolest super powers ever. However and unfortunately, it presents old-fashioned notions about foreigners, it has some of the worst written characters ever (including Electro), it has too many villains, which takes the focus out of the story, and the movie is just too long.

All in all, I wouldn’t really recommend this movie unless you’re a die hard Spider-Man fan. But if  you must, watch it in 3D – they did a good job at that.

The Amazing Spider-Man 2 2014

The Amazing Spider-Man 2 (2014)


Cast:   , , a.o.

Writing: Alex KurtzmanRoberto OrciJeff Pinkner (screenplay and screen story), James Vanderbilt (screen story), Stan LeeSteve Ditko (Marvel Comic)

Cinematography: Daniel Mindel

Genre: Action, Adventure, Superhero

142 minutes


  • Derrek Greene

    I was looking forward to this before reading the review. I wasn’t into the first one because they retread the origin story, even if they added a twist. But it sounds like they didn’t execute this movie very well. Maybe I’ll wait for the Blu to check it out because the action looks great in the trailer. And I have a soft spot for comic book movies.

    • http://www.themoviescrutineer.com/ Manon de Reeper

      The action was indeed pretty stunning (also in the sense that my ears are still ringing – sound was WAY too loud in the cinema) and the CGI are pretty awesome, too. It’s just that the story isn’t up to par, especially the characters. It’s unfortunate though. It’s like they tried to cover up the meager story with loads and loads of explosions and battles. It could have been much better. ^_^

  • http://thevoid99.blogspot.com/ Steven Flores

    Can I ask how bad is this in comparison to Spider-Man 3 which was a very bloated film for having too many villains and such as I still want the $7 of the $9 I spent on that film. The remaining $2 is Bruce Campbell’s cameo.

    • http://www.themoviescrutineer.com/ Manon de Reeper

      You know what – I thought I’d seen Spider-Man 3, but I don’t think I have! I only saw the first two. Guess I didn’t really miss out, then.

  • ruth

    Hi Manon! Even from the trailer I wasn’t feeling this one. I was super excited for the first film tho, even more so after I went to San Diego Comic Con and Andrew Garfield stood mere inches in front of me! But I still think Raimi’s Spidey films are better, esp the second one w/ Alfred Molina.

    Xenophobic eh? That’s really odd. Hmmm, maybe I’ll just rent this one.

    • http://www.themoviescrutineer.com/ Manon de Reeper

      Hey Ruth, thanks for stopping by ^^

      I’m jealous. When I was invited to the screening it was presented as a “red carpet” event, and I know the cast usually does this really extensive promotional tour so I actually believed they were coming to Perth. Unfortunately, it was not the case. There I was, all glammed up for a regular screening xD. There was a red carpet, to be sure, but just some folks dressed in very lame Spider-Man costumes. No Andrew Garfield. No Emma Stone. No no one! It was super disappointing, rofl!

      It’s not really odd though that it carries xenophobic values if you think about it. Many of the old comic books presented foreigners as the villains. Many action movies do. It sparks the audience’s emotion. *shrug* You see it so often in the superhero movies.