This week we continue the barrage of summer superhero flicks with “The Amazing Spider-Man 2” (PG-13). Andrew Garfield and Emma Stone return as our hero and his love interest, Gwen Stacy. This time around, Spidey is harangued by Jamie Foxx’s Electro and Dane DeHaan’s Green Goblin. Marc Webb returns to direct.
Andy: I freely admit that my interest in superhero movies has waned significantly in the past few years, and the main reason is fatigue from an over-saturated market. Perhaps the masked vigilante most responsible for this is Spider-Man, who has had five major motion pictures since 2002. And frankly, that influences “Spider-Man 2’s” effectiveness. The themes here are too familiar: Will the public think Spider-Man is good? How can he reconcile the life of a hero and protecting those he loves? How can he manage his growing responsibilities? These are all interesting questions, but ones that have been answered by “Spider-Man” movies many times before.
Ryan: I’m at the other end of the spectrum with regard to superhero films; I’m all in. But my enthusiasm comes with high expectations. I don’t want superhero flicks to merely succeed at the box-office; I want them to be good films – which they can be. “Spider-Man 2” offers plenty of elements that are good (the action) to great (the chemistry between Garfield and Stone), but unfortunately, the film’s tone, story and direction are extremely uneven. When Sony rebooted “Spider-Man” in 2012, Marc Webb and crew borrowed from the Christopher Nolan playbook to produce a more brooding and grounded Spider-Man origin story. Except for the main villain wanting to turn everybody into lizards, the darker approach mostly worked. The main issue with “Spider-Man 2” lies in its uncertainty of whether it wants to continue with its “Nolanization,” be more “fun” like the Marvel Studio-produced films or set the table for a larger “Spider-Man” cinematic universe. This “throw-everything-at-the-wall-and-see-what-sticks method is not a good recipe for a coherent stand-alone movie. Like I said earlier, there are great moments in this film, but there are also extremely weak moments.