After the positive response to The Amazing Spider-Man reboot, expectations were high from the sequel, especially after the addition of Jamie Foxx to the cast. But as the credits roll, the fall from expectation to reality is steep, much like the fall a central character suffers.
While the action sequences and general acting are good, the number of villains and limited character development make following the plot a bit of a mental exercise. Why does Electro (Jamie Foxx) conveniently go from harmless to evil? How does his transformation from human to super-villain work? Why are there three villains stuffed in the same movie when the same idea failed miserably in Spider-Man 3 that featured Spider-Man’s most captivating rival, Venom? Without clear connections and overlapping story elements, director Marc Webb leaves the movie spinning without any focus.
Granted that as a comic book character Electro is no Venom, but considering how good the hero behind the makeup and computer-generated imagery is, the limited character development appears to be a waste of talent on the writers’ part. Perhaps the screen time allotted to Harry Osborne played by Dane DeHaan could have been better spent showing Electro’s slide to evil, making the transformation more believable. The same applies to Paul Giamatti’s Rhino, who will probably make an appearance in sequels as a more prominent character.
The Peter Parker-Gwen Stacy storyline is well done and comes as a respite from the fight scenes, but even here, a chance to move Spider-Man into a more ‘human’ hero with real-world emotions and weaknesses is wasted. Anyone familiar with the ’70’s Spider-Man storyline will be stunned when they come across the twist in the storyline after which Peter’s teenage angst and some of his childish behaviour is largely brushed aside as opposed to in the comic book storyline.
The amount of green screen involved in the action scenes also alienates the older viewer. Many superhero movies have avoided this by having a few action sequences with the hero out of costume, including the previous Spider-Man installments, but in this movie’s defense, that becomes difficult when the villain is a glowing electrical construct.
Spider-Man is the unofficial mascot of Marvel Comics, which makes it appropriate to compare it with DC Comic’s Superman, another financially successful movie that left most fans polarised. But where Superman won outright was setting a platform for character development in future movies. The most recent Marvel Comics movie Captain America: The Winter Soldier was also a phenomenal success because of the mix of comic book canon and original writing, leaving even loyal readers gasping in some scenes. In The Amazing Spider-Man 2, however, there are few, if any moments of awe.
This might also be because Spider-Man (along with the X-Men) is not part of the main Marvel Cinematic Universe in which The Avengers and movies featuring the superhero team members all star. Unfortunately the licensing issues resulted in the comic book storylines losing their edge which cost the movie in the form of lost fans.
Rating: 3 out of 5 stars
Vaqas Asghar is an Islamabad-based senior sub-editor for The Express Tribune. He tweets @Vasghar
Published in The Express Tribune, Sunday Magazine, May 18th, 2014.