27 of 37 people found the following review helpful
The Likeable but Flawed Spider-Man
, 22 April 2014
This review is from: The Amazing Spider-Man 2 [DVD]  (DVD)
Following the events of the previous installment, Peter Parker has now embraced his identity as Spider-Man and is learning to live a double life. All that could change when a new villain is born, putting both he and the ones he loves in grave danger... I seemed to be in a minority, but I quite liked The Amazing Spider-Man. Garfield is the perfect Peter Parker, just the right amount of nerdy, cheeky and brooding in equal measure; Maguire's Peter was just a touch too serious for my liking. I also like Garfield as Spider-Man for much the same reason - he brings in the witticisms that the comic book character is known for, and I personally enjoy it when superhero movies embrace their slightly campy source material. The Amazing Spider-Man 2 delivers more of the same in this vein; but while I enjoyed the movie overall, I felt it lacked the focus of the first installment, leading to an uneven, slightly haphazard film.
The positives of the series so far are abundant; the chemistry between Garfield and Stone is palpable, and it's easy to see their real-life affection. Hell, it oozes out of them, and it means that you can't help rooting for Gwen Stacy, which only makes the discord between them more frustrating. Stone's Stacy is wonderful; she is, as Peter repeatedly asserts, adorable, but underneath there is a steely core of intelligence, empathy and kindness that render her a worthy super-hero sidekick. I also like the trend of tragic villains the series has so far displayed; even the most despicable behaviour is explained (although never justified) by the sufferings of the characters. This is particularly true in the case of Electro; maybe I'm a sap, but it broke my heart seeing his transformation. He is not innately evil; just lonely, just misunderstood, and there is always an interesting element of contrast between these villains and Spider-Man himself - you find yourself asking, is this the path he could have taken if things had been different?
However, it's very patchy: TAS-M2 has moments of sheer brilliance, particularly in its meta-references (listen to Peter's ringtone and shriek with joy!) and the sassy one-liners Peter comes out with, but there's too much going on at any given moment. I think it suffered from trying to cram in too many plot points at once; this meant that none got the gravity or the closure that they deserved. The Electro plot was intriguing and well done, but it came to a very premature end as the film takes a totally different tack. The ending; ah, the ending. I knew it was coming, as will most with a knowledge outside the film franchise, but oh, it broke my heart. I don't wish to reveal spoilers, but what happened is a huge part of Spider-Man mythology and I just don't think it was given enough screen time. The last moments of the film felt totally at odds with the tone established after the climactic battle, and it jarred for me; the 'happy ending' cliché didn't seem applicable in this case, and I wish they had saved it for The Amazing Spider-Man 3.
It's difficult to summarise exactly how I felt about TAS-M2; part of me loved it, loved the fast-paced, tongue in cheek action combined with the Dawson's Creek-esque romance plot, but the other part was irritated by the amount of plotlines shoved into the mix.
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