Review: ‘The Amazing Spider-Man 2’ Starring Andrew Garfield, Emma Stone, Jamie Foxx & Dane DeHaan

Review: 'The Amazing Spider-Man 2' Starring Andrew Garfield, Emma Stone, Jamie Foxx & Dane DeHaan

As far as superhero reboots go, “room for improvement” was probably the best way to sum up 2012’s “The Amazing Spider-Man.” Certainly financially, the film made a very healthy $750 million worldwide, but that’s still less than any of the three Sam Raimi films that preceded it. And creatively, the film had some strong building blocks—an increased emphasis on romance, a hugely appealing central pairing in Andrew Garfield and Emma Stone (plus support from ringers like Sally Field and Martin Sheen), a bright sense of humor, a fresh-ish take on the characters—but a patchy script, disappointing action and lackluster villain meant that there was plenty of opportunity for a sequel to prove itself worth of the title “amazing.”

Unfortunately, that’s not what director Marc Webb and his team have managed to pull off with follow-up “The Amazing Spider-Man 2.” The sequel, hitting less than two years after the first (and respectively, two and four years before the already-scheduled third and fourth films, not to mention the “Sinister Six” and “Venom” spin-offs that are in the works) doesn’t just double down on what didn’t work in the first film, it manages to undo some of the good qualities of the original as well. The result is a film that kicks off the summer blockbuster season with a resounding thud.

After a ‘Dark Knight Rises‘-aping prologue showing the death of Peter Parker’s parents (Campbell Scott and Embeth Davitz) in a plane crash, we pick up an indeterminate amount of time after the original (this is a film that’s very good at indeterminate amounts of time), with Peter and Gwen Stacy back together and graduating high school. But the promise he made as Spider-Man to her dying father that he would stay away to protect her still haunts Peter, and their relationship is rocky as a result.

Meanwhile, after Parker’s alter-ego saves his life from a car chase caused by a Russian mercenary (Paul Giamatti), much-ignored low-level Oscorp engineer Max Dillon (a mostly inaudible Jamie Foxx) has become obsessed with the hero. But the obsession gets darker when an after-hours accident turns him into a being of almost pure electricity. But he’s not the only guy with a potential to turn against Spidey. Childhood pal Harry Osborn (Dane DeHaan) has returned from boarding school and years abroad to visit his dying father Norman (Chris Cooper), only to be told that he’s got the same disease. The only cure? Spider-Man.

We’re keeping the plot recap as brief as we can, and excluding some of the more tangential sub-plots (Spidey’s search for the truth about his parents and his origins; uh, Sally Field’s Aunt May retraining as a nurse) but all this goes some way to demonstrate the first and most self-evident issue with the film: it’s wildly overstuffed. Sony seems to have taken the lesson from the mammoth success of “The Avengers” that people want an abundance of characters in their superhero movies, but the script from J.J. Abrams acolytes Jeff Pinkner, Alex Kurtzman and Roberto Orci flits around from plotline to plotline shapelessly, and the result is something bloated, that at 141 minutes, is way too long.

It’s a film of many scenes, but not much structure, of many events, but no real plot. And worst of all, it’s not really about anything. Previous ‘Spider-Man’ films had a singular journey at their heart, even when Sam Raimi’s movies were at their worst, but it’s unclear what Webb is trying to say here. The various villains and side characters don’t add up to anything thematically coherent, beyond “these guys will look cool as toys.”

Webb does feel a little more confident with action this time around (the opening scene with Giamatti—who has nothing to do but bookend the movie with some screaming—is decently staged), but too often keeps it weightlessly CGI-driven, with few real-world elements to make you care about anything that’s going on. But worse, there’s less of a handle on the human beings at the film’s center.

Garfield and Stone, who were the heart of the first film, remain well-cast and charming. They have chemistry in spades (unsurprising, as they’re a real-life couple), and that still shines through on the screen, far more of a special effect than anything the VFX whizzes can come up with. But the film doesn’t do right by the relationship. Because of Peter’s promise to her father, they’ve become very off-again/on-again, and the result is frustrating, like watching that couple that you were friends with who lived off the drama of breaking up and getting back together. The result makes Peter into kind of a jerk (and, thanks to a “Superman Returns“-style development, kind of a creepy stalker), and Gwen into someone much more thankless than you’d ever imagine Stone was capable of playing.

Still, they’re more appealing than the villains. In human nerd mode, Foxx is an overly-mannered nightmare, with little of the pathos of the best Spider-Man villains, and once he’s transformed, while he occasionally makes for some striking imagery, he seems to be an entirely different person; there’s no continuity in Foxx’s performance between Max and Electro. Meanwhile, DeHaan remains a hugely charismatic presence, but again, the character is inconsistently written (being a megalomaniacal douchebag in one scene, even before his “downfall,” then chumming up with Peter in the next), and that they haven’t seen each other for ten years means that the sense of betrayal in the friendship doesn’t come across. The result is basically a replication of DeHaan’s performance in the far superior “Chronicle,” but with more embarrassing make-up effects. Both, it should be said, are awards-worthy performances next to a totally baffling cameo from Marton Csokas as one Dr. Kafka (we’re not making this up), a mad scientist seemingly inspired by the emcee from “Cabaret.”

Still, at least they have more to do than some. Most of the dead characters get more screen time than some of the big-name supporting cast. Chris Cooper (also reprising an earlier villain, though unfortunately it’s his “maniacal laugh” guy from “The Muppets“) gets only a single scene, while Felicity Jones gets two, neither of which give her anything to do. If you’re going to cast one of the best actresses of her generation, at least give her more to play than “assistant.” (We also spotted the name of Cronenberg favorite Sarah Gadon in the credits, though we’ll be damned if we can remember seeing her face on screen.)

Needless to say, since they’re not much on their own, the parts certainly don’t add up to more than their sum. The film, like the original, feels very haphazardly structured, a hotchpotch collection of scenes rather than a unified whole. There’s also no tonal consistency, with Webb lurching awkwardly from quippy comedy to brooding drama to high tragedy in short spaces of time, undercutting all three modes as a result. The framing’s still pretty workmanlike as well, particularly when it comes to a preponderance of slo-motion bullet-time that suggests that Webb might finally have got around to watching “The Matrix” fifteen years after everyone else.

Occasionally, the film will do something right, something that hints at the promise of this cast, and a new understanding of the character. In particular, there’s an emphasis on Spider-Man as a protector of civilians rather than a fighter that feels refreshing, particularly when framed up against the collateral damage of some other superhero movies, ones that rhyme with Stan Of Meel. And, uh, Peter uses Google rather than Bing in this one, like an actual human being. And… Webb uses a Phosphorescent song that I really like (though other musical cues, including Hans Zimmer‘s Pharrell and Johnny Marr-assisted score, are disappointing, particularly when the latter is used to represent the voices inside Max’s head in a weird chant/rap thing).

But there’s so much more wrong with the film, including some stuff that gets into spoiler-y territory that we won’t discuss here. We went into “The Amazing Spider-Man 2” hoping that it would take what worked about the first film and run with it. We left thinking that, if it continues on this downwards curve, we’d avoid future Spider-films like the plague. [D]

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Brenden Franklin

I wish I can meet spider man because he’s my hero and a superhero. I haven’t met spider man yet and Peter Parker. Peter Parker is a nice boy and spidey is a hero.


Brenden Franklin

Eddie Brock

I was honestly hesitant to seeing ANY of these after the first Spiderman series. While they weren't horrid…the action scenes were shameful. PLUS… the villains all died…(except Sandman) and VENOM was nothing more than a closing scene and not much of a threat to the Spider…If you know the comics… Venom was the one villain that kept Spiderman awake at night. Nothing more than a filler villain in the third Tobey movie… Disappointing. People dont go see superhero movies for substance…at least not more than to be expected from something based on a comic book. They go to see "super" action. Their favorite heroes doing what they do best. In this case, long over the top web slinging and super agility that no man could mimic. Perfectly fine with most of the action being cg. This "Amazing" series is getting back to the roots of the Spidey comics in the fact that Ravencroft is a revolving door for the many maniacs of the Spidey universe, Gwen was his first love, and Oscorp was the source of most of his problems. Electro… wasnt anything like the comic…. I even recall thinking…This guy and Dr. Manhattan should go at it. It DID make for good action and the visual was stunning. Rhino…. wasnt anything like the Rhino I remember… He was just a brute in a suit if I recall… But he wasn't the main villain either. The action was far better than the first series and if it continues along those lines I can't wait to see a truly Spidey worthy web chase and swing fight between him and Venom. Spidey has plenty of "me time" in learning about his dads research as well as trying to get it together with Gwen…All the while haunted by images of her father and the promise he made to him. My only real disappointment in the Amazing series is Peter wasnt very geeky. Thats where Tobey nailed it. Other than that?…Harry becoming the goblin and heading up the Oscorp villain foundry, Gwen dying, and Spidey going into hiding as a result…then returning due to a speech she made about knowing who you are and what you're here for….when the city needed him to save them from a rampaging Rhino… Well done.

Aline Mathiassen

what's the song, played in chinatown, after Pete's and Gwen Stacy's break up?


What song did Electro play that Peter hated?


I use Bing.
Last time I checked, I am human….


My Favorite Star " Andrew" I love him and I found out the Spider Man 2 Suit from the London Premiere. I will be purchasing soon for some one! Bonanza booth Rise Up


Does anyone know what the song is when peter had the earphones in his ear i really want to know thats people!


I'm sorry,but this new movie is WAY better than the first,and it has more depth than the old spiderman movies…Not that I don't like the older spiderman movies,but I feel as though the newer ones are better acted.To all the people commenting that this movie had no heart or depth to it,LOADS of the movie was about him and his connections with others,how he feels he has to live up to his word and stay away from Gwen,How he can't understand why his parents would just leave him…and most importantly,his relationships with the villains…Max was a "nobody" and when spiderman,his idol,rescues him from an oncoming truck,it makes Max feel special,and needed.But when he goes all electro,and he thinks spidermans lied to him,he feels betrayed.And betrayel can do crazy things to your mind.Not to even start on Harry…Very well acted character,and the emotion between him and Peter is sad,yet understandable…he also feels betrayed.If you ask me,this critic is nitpicking…I mean,music?Come up with something a little better than that!The movie was well acted,reasonably well scripted,and EXTREMELY EMOTIONAL!!!And they followed along with the comics,cause even Gwens outfit when she dies is almost exactly the same in the movie!The music was epic,the special effects were awesome,The only thing I could complain about is probably the length of the movie…it could do with being a little bit shorter…Other than that,I would so go see it again at the cinema!


i went to watch the movie with my family for fun and enjoyment but OMG… I came out from theatre absolutely GLOOMIER… Death of Gwen has saddened and spoiled my sunday evening ! This wasnt expected from a fun movie. The hero who resques everyone CUDNT resque his own love ! Failure of movie. I enjoyed the movie until end, and gwen's death has WIPED OUT my all joy and made me COMPLETELY MOODLESS at the end. I m feeling CHEATED by the makers, my money, my time, my holiday, my mood all r spoiled. I want to sue againt makers to payback my invested money. The only watchable face of the movie is killed !?!


Who the hell is Marc Webb? Are they trying to prove a point that anyone can make a spider man movie?


What was with the Dr. Manhattan-ified version of electro. Didn't even try to disguise the blatant mimicry.


What is the song that plays when Peter and Gwen go on the date right before electro first tears up the city?


Hi! can anyone tell what song was playing during the scene where peter was crossing the street to meet gwen (where he almost got hit by a truck)?


Will Gwen die


Steve Aoki Remix


Hi Clare. It's taken me about 5 hours and almost sanity but – It's Kid Cudi – Pursuit Of Happiness ft. MGMT.


Does anyone know the name of the song played when he is trying to make the web shooters resistant to electricity, using the batteries? Its the scene after he's sticking stuff up on his wall


I was very disappointed in the film. It lacked character development and was not true to th comics vision of Peter sacrificing so much due to his failure that resulted in the death of Uncle Ben. Willem Dafoe and Alfred Molina were SO much better than these villains. As for Gwen's death–the gears of the clock tower cutting the web she was suspended from? Really? It was hollow, and I didn't like the touch of having Spideys web catch her but it's elasticity allowed her to slam into the concrete…it just seemed weak to me

This film is a bogus reboot of a series that reached its peak I'm Spiderman 2


OK, it's been out in my country since last Thursday and I finally went to see it. I won't talk about the screenwriters "work" in this one but I just wanted to point out that the wonderful Sarah Gadon plays the woman seen in the OSCORP security system which seems like a giant waste. They'll probably make her a villain or something in a future movie but still.
Oh, and WTF is up with that scene with Electro 'shocking' some electrical towers to the tune of "Itsy Bitsy Spider". It was cringeworthy.


What is the name of the song that is played while Peter makes tests with batteries? ( Before is he in his room on his bed)


25 score review? What's the matter, didn't the cast acknowledge you on opening night? Staying true to Spidys wit + the comics on a whole is a fantastic refreshing achievement from Sony. After its last hatric of half hacked movies & Marvels revival on a whole through Disney I had been worried they [Sony] had just got lucky with their new approach to NYCs web slinger, but a strong plot on 2 for 2 has me greatly anticipating the next Amazing blockbuster..
A very well written weak report by someone with a paid or personal grudge.
Go home Lyttelton

Max K

Check out "Honest" from The Neighbourhood featured on the sound track!


This is one of those cases where you can't decide which is better, the movie or the soundtrack…because they are both incredible. Pharrell, Alicia Keys, The Neighbourhood, plus a ton of great scores by Hans Zimmer.


Thanks a lot guys for the help! :)


Abby I'm not too sure. but i think the song youre looking for is "The Writing's on the Wall" by Damien Kulash and Tim Nordwind from OK go. I've been trying to find it online, but i can't see it anywhere. very frustrating. it makes sense though cos in the scene he's collecting info and putting it on his wall. also OK go is a very indie kind of band and sounds very similar to the song that was played in while peter was in his room. hope you can find it :))


What is the name of the song played while peter is in his room putting pictures on his wall?


Worst movie of the year.. so far.


Can anyone tell me the song that is being played when peter is in his room posting the pictures?


lol what, the movie was amazing & there was a plot and lots of character development

Rhys Hinsley

These new films are for the proper fanboys of Spiderman. These new films remind of the Spiderman I loved growing up, the average guy who gets super powers, and has a witty punch-line. Sam Raimi's Spidermans had none of these, instead he had a down-trodden geek, who offered no comedic value to the films at all (Tobey's interpretation is not true to the character of Peter Parker). As much as I respect Raimi's influence on the art of making action/superhero films, his interpretation completely lacked any soul. Whereas the new ones actually do, Peter Parker actually has something to him, and for a film to balance the comedic and the tragic is a hard task, which Webb brings off with class. Reviewers are destroying this industry please stop it, it's disgusting.

George Henry

I watched the film last night without reading a single review before to influence. Very enjoyable and great in 3D. No spoilers from me but i'd give it 8/10. 1st one i'd say 8.5. Clearly a fan :)


These "new" Spider-Man movies aren't worth watching. Sam Raimi's already done this, in 2002, '4, and '7. Their Rotten Tomatoes scores were 89%, 94%, and 63%, an average of 9% higher than The Amazing Spider-Man's score. Too soon, too similar, and worse. Nolan waited sixteen years and went a different direction with Batman Begins. Technology and content improved since the '89 version. That was worth it. This is not.


I think the Amazing Spider-Man cast is much stronger than the Sam Raimi's. Andrew Garfield is a superior actor and so is Emma Stone. Their chemistry made the first film a treat. Just everybody in this film has talent. HOWEVER, I'm not a huge fan of the new screenwriters. They should've taken more risks with the talent they have. I will still go to see this new film since I love the cast so much. I could not stand the Peter/Mary Jane nonsense from the old movies. It got so old.

Shaq Ortiz

Critics need to get themselves checked. They want to give a bad review for a great movie and then give a 10 to a stupid piece of garbage.

Marie Biscuit

I disagree with you, I enjoyed the first movie and definitely can't wait till the second movie comes out……!


Sony should just give Spider-Man back to MARVEL STUDIOS so they could re-do Spider-Man and make it in their own universe and part of Phase 3 and be an Avenger!!!!


This review is the lowest I've seen out of 22 different reviews. If people listen to this, they clearly don't know Spider-Man. The reviewer sure doesn't. I can't believe someone would nit pick the choice of music in a soundtrack. Go read other reviews people, not this one.


Seems they've gone with experts of cobbling together a borderline bastardization of a property's greatest hits — the last one was Twilight-Man, this sounds too much like Twilight-Man: Into Darkness
the great chemistry between the two stars is the only saving grace of this series…i can't imagine 2 more and spin-offs already planned. awful.


Okay I reallllly like Felicity Jones too, but you can't be serious about this comment: "while Felicity Jones gets two, neither of which give her anything to do. If you're going to cast one of the best actresses of her generation, at least give her more to play than "assistant."

a little early for that no?


The biggest problems with this new Spider-Man movies is that they have no soul. SM is all about a personal journey but instead they want to get the character in the middle of a bigger super evil plot of corruption. Sorry guys, but Spider-Man isn't Batman. His story is about Peter Parker and not intricate plotlines about his long gone parents. This films have no heart, no moral, no heroism. They are more interested in overcrowding the films with character than actually making those characters be interesting and human.


'Orci and Kurtman write bad movie' shocker. What a pair of knuckleheads.


There should be a League of Ruining Movies and it should be founded by Alex Kurtzman, Roberto Orci, and Zack Snyder.

Johnny Shafto

What I think is funny about superhero movies is that they assume we want to know all the back stories, all the underlying drama, all the inter-personal garbage. "Watchmen" was a fantastic comic, but it wasn't the only successful comic, not by a long shot, and shouldn't be the go to template for movies. I loved reading Spiderman comics as a kid, not because I wanted to see him balance his social life with his schoolwork and his crimefighting, but because he was a funny, inventive, likeable guy who found ways to beat on villains who were way bigger and dumber than him. It was fun.


Sorry but it sounds a bit nitpicky to me. Of course, I haven't seen the movie, but I feel as if you criticise the bits of the movie that are very much suspect to personal preference like the soundtrack or the comedic relief moments (I think maybe you refer to Spidey apparently cracking a joke all the time, something he usually does in the comics to stir his opponents off and as a coping mechanism.) You mention how Spidey's portrayed more as a protector of civilians than as a fighter. Indeed, that sounds refreshing and maybe it should add up to the overall score you put at the end of the review. I guess my opinion on the movie will have to wait till I actually watch the movie but all in all I think your review is overly harsh.


The first movie was not that good. Even if it made a profit, I don't think it deserved a sequel.

These studios are all about franchises now, and all the merchandising that goes along with them, hence the numerous characters for action figures and the poor script. They got a good cast, but what's the point if you're just going to waste them in a bad movie?


LOL im laughing at every sheep in here who can't make up their mind
What happened where did your brains go I mean can you not make up your own mind
and need an individual to tell you how to think or how to spend you money…yeah your sheep
We all have opinion on things and this is this guy's opinion and not yours THINK FOR YOUR OWN DAMN SELF
Guess what i'm not I have a brain


This sounds exactly like what I feared an Orci/Kurtzman script would yield…Spider-Man Into Darkness.


I was hoping this would be good because of the cast. Obviously, it will have its fans and I read another more favorable review. But Oli makes his case in a very thorough and level-headed manner that I can see myself agreeing more with him. Hopefully I'll like it a bit more than a "D".


I didn't really think much of the last film and to see that this film is worse than I expected to be in all of its bloatedness. Thank you for saving me money and the time to not see this crap.


I watched the first one recently. it had this really neat set up with Peter's parents that went against both the original 'Amazing' Spider-man and the 'Ultimate' version, the last being where Spider-man's dad was a scientist or something. He wasn't old enough to remember who his parents were, but I thought 'Oh, that's a neat idea'. I think 'Well, this must be what the movie is about' Unfortunantly, that's a small part of the film. I'd read so many Spider-man comic over the years and seen all 3 of the previous movies, that it's become standard to me.

The most interesting part of the movie is the stuff that's only the intro and not concluded. No doubt, there's more of it in this film. A kid looking for the mystery of who his dad was probably finding out that his parents died because of this scientific research is a great idea. They should of put it in another film and called it something else.

IT's also strange for me to see Gwen Stacy in the film. They killed her off in the 70s and she still hovers around like a ghost. By the time I read the books, she was rarely mentioned and Harry Osborne was just about to die. Ofcourse, I heard they brought him back. Apparently, like his dad, he was in Europe. HEY, MAYBE THAT'S WERE GWEN STACY IS… IN EUROPE! :)

The Chav Licker

It's bad, folks. Kurtzman and Orci have left their foul, fetid stamp on another franchise, marking it beyond repair with the fecal matter that is their script.

Why they are allowed to continue to work in Hollywood in non-managerial positions, i'll never know.

Plus, it sucks the way they killed off Harry. Brutal and vicious. At least poor Dane doesnt have to return for another one of these crapfests. The next one should be interesting – Chris Cooper seeks vengeance for the death of this son- and the real truth is that Spider LET him die, knowing he was gonna get killed. That's harsh. I'll take more Colonel Fitts any day.


I'm not surprised this is a big mess coming from Alex Kurtzman and Roberto Orci. It's a shame that filmmakers don't explore the potential of incredible actresses like Gadon, Jones and Shailene Woodley in films millions of people will see worldwide.


Harsh lol.

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