‘The Amazing Spider-Man 2’ Review: A Sucky Spidey Sequel

'The Amazing Spider-Man 2'

Movie Rating:


In an age when so many Marvel Comics characters are treated to excellent movie adaptations, it’s a real shame that Stan Lee’s poster boy Spider-Man is stuck in such a mediocre franchise. Sadly, as long as the rights remain with Sony and director Marc Webb is captaining the ship, your friendly neighborhood Spider-Man won’t get any movies worthy of his legacy.

There was once a golden age for ‘Spider-Man’ movies. Let’s call it 2002-2004, back when superhero movies weren’t guaranteed hits and Sam Raimi was in charge of the wall-crawler’s cinematic shenanigans. Raimi’s bright and colorful aesthetic, goofy sense of humor, and reverence for his 1960s source material finally pulled superheroes out of the shadow of Tim Burton’s ‘Batman’ and introduced smilin’ Stan Lee’s buoyant storytelling and neurotic superheroes to the masses. (Sure, the ‘Blade’ and ‘X-Men’ movies were the first Marvel hits, but they remained in the dark and brooding style of 1990s superhero blockbusters.) Unfortunately, Raimi was a victim of his own success. After the movies made about $800 million apiece worldwide, the folks at Sony got a bit too interested in their new cash cow. ‘Spider-Man 3’ was a disaster that reeked of a rushed production schedule and studio interference. Then Raimi got fired outright and the studio rushed together a new ‘Spider-Man’ franchise to avoid losing the Spidey rights to Marvel Studios. Now Marc Webb is in charge, a director who’s on record saying he doesn’t particularly care about the character, and it shows. His first movie was weak, but spend $250 million on any movie with “Spider-Man” in the title and you’ll have a worldwide hit regardless of quality. Now we have a sequel, for better or worse.

‘The Amazing Spider-Man 2’ is just as bland and impersonal a production as the last movie. It feels like a Spider-Man movie made by people who vaguely remember the character from childhood and don’t care much about him. If you’re a viewer entering the theater with the same moderate interest in Spider-Man, you might not mind. Webb’s film is passable with a handful of decent moments. However, given that we live in an age when a ‘Captain America’ sequel turns out as well as ‘The Winter Soldier’, a mediocre ‘Spider-Man’ movie shouldn’t even be an option.

The strangest thing about Webb’s movie is that it suffers from all the superhero blockbuster problems that were banished from most comic book flicks around the turn of the millennium. It has too many villains, the movie star stunt-casting is distracting, the plot is convoluted to the point of being nonsensical, the screenwriters ditch decades of brilliant comic book stories in favor of a hastily compiled mess, and sequel-baiting outweighs world-building.

The hodgepodge plot has Peter Parker/Spider-Man (Andrew Garfield) battling Paul Giamatti’s Russian mobster early on before ditching that character until the final scene. Jamie Foxx is introduced as a nerd obsessed with Spider-Man (played in the broad strokes of Foxx’s ‘In Living Color’ days) to endear us somewhat to the character, only to essentially drop that element in favor of transforming his Electo into an electric version of Dr. Manhattan from ‘Watchmen’ for no apparent reason.

Peter is once again obsessed with uncovering the reason why his parents died, only for it to all be hastily revealed in the most irritating throwaway plot device of the 2000s: a forgotten video diary. Peter and Gwen Stacy (Emma Stone) still have a hot/cold love affair marred by Parker’s concern about his superhero exploits getting in the way. Then Harry Osborne (Dane DeHaan) shows up claiming to be a vastly important friend in Peter’s life even though he wasn’t mentioned at all in the last movie. That return seems like it’ll be a bright spot for Peter, but only for people who haven’t read the comics, seen the cartoon, watched Raimi’s ‘Spider-Man’ movies, or noticed DeHaan’s clearly evil haircut. So there’s another villain of the green and goblinish variety. Oh, and Sally Field cries in a few scenes as Aunt May out of contractual obligation.

Whew! That’s a whole lotta plot for one theoretically breezy summer movie to contain. Yet even with a tedious 2.5 hour running time, none of the storylines or characters feel properly explored.

It took a team of four credited writers to crank out ‘The Amazing Spider-Man 2’, and it feels very much like a film stitched together by committee without anyone keeping track of how it would play as a whole. It’s a messy, awkward movie that never builds enough character development for a proper emotional payoff or delivers enough action to justify all of the villains competing for screen time. Marc Webb’s dark and brooding tone also feels completely out of place with the sweet and goofy nature of the character.

That said, the movie isn’t a complete disaster. Andrew Garfield remains an ideal choice for the lead and delivers all of the neurosis, humor, heart, romanticism and subtle toughness of the character even when the script drops the ball. He also shares wonderful chemistry with Emma Stone. Their scenes together have real spark even though Stone’s role is woefully underwritten.

So, you’ve got two strong leads and a few genuinely thrilling web-slinging sequences thanks to a near limitless visual effects budget. The sequel definitely has some high points, but that only makes the dull and awkward mess of a movie surrounding them so much more frustrating to suffer through. This Spider-Man franchise still has a strong core that has promise, but until Sony gives writers enough time to develop a proper screenplay or hires a director who cares about the source material, this is going to be the lame duck of Marvel superhero franchises. ‘Spider-Man’ should be a flagship series at the heart of the Marvel movie universe. Instead, it’s an also-ran pretending to be better.

Ah well, at least Stan Lee got to see two excellent ‘Spider-Man’ movies in his lifetime. Hopefully, some day the prodigal son will return to Marvel Studios. Until then, the geeks will have to stick to their comic book collections and old (non-“Amazing”) ‘Spider-Man 2’ Blu-rays.


  1. I’d love to see American audiences decide to just skip this, but we all know that’s not going to happen. Heck, in a few weeks it will probably surpass Captain America’s box office take…and that’s just criminal.

  2. Thulsadoom

    Haven’t had a chance to see this yet, but I am curious… I thought the previous Spiderman was considerably better than any of the Toby Maguire movies. Not perfect, but very enjoyable.

    I also found the first Captain America rather disappointing and even a bit boring, so I’m more interested to see Spidey 2 at the moment, despite the negative review. 😉

    • Guy

      I’m with you on your Spider-Man points. The last series is elevated to a series it doesn’t quite deserve. I was 13 when the first Raimi Spidey film came out. I enjoyed it and, especially, Spider-Man 2 back then, but aging and seeing dozens of other comic films since has tempered my warm feelings from yesteryear. The super-earnest, “Aw, shucks” tone and lack of basic logic in the motivations of the villains stick out like sore thumbs now. There was so much soapy drama in there as well. The pull between the personal and the “great responsibility” is key to Spider-Man, but forgetting eggs for Aunt May is enough. They didn’t need repetitive scenes of Peter and MJ strife three or four times per movie. Spider-Man 2 is still pretty okay, but the first was hit-or-miss in retrospect and the third was putrid.

      Webb’s film has been unfairly maligned. If someone genuinely didn’t care for it, I’m fine with that, but so much said about it has more to do with the quick reboot than about the movie itself. I prefer the more realistic tone, the inclusion of the mystery surrounding Peter’s parents and Captain Stacy was a good change-of-pace frienemy compared to three previous movies of J. Jonah. The Amazing Spider-Man 2 does look like it could be a hot mess, but, if it is when I see it, I’ll chalk that up to Sony and Arad just like they sank Raimi’s third.

  3. I enjoyed the first “Amazing Spider Man” when we saw it in the theater, probably because I had such low expectations. Interestingly enough, I haven’t even bothered to watch it again on Blu Ray or Cable (and obviously don’t own it).

    I have absolutely zero interest to see this sequel. Everything I’ve seen from it looks horrible. Too much CGI, and it’s OBVIOUS CGI. I’ll be saving my movie money to see Godzilla.

  4. anightwish

    Is there something wrong with people. Im so sick of hearing, theres too many villains. But yet the same people will say. Lets have spidey fight the sinister six. What don’t you people know how to count. The sam raimis Spiderman were not that great. Where were all the one liners that spidey is known for. There was none. And that awful power ranger goblin. What the hell was that.

    • This is a valid concern, almost every superhero movie that has contained more than 2 major villains has sucked HARD, Batman and Robin (granted it would have sucked if it had one villain), SP3. Spiderman 3 hit me the hardest because 2 had been so (for the time) perfectly crafted. But I was very Pleasantly surprised ASM2 did not do what their posters had suggested. The movie is surprisingly good, though still is nowhere near as Good as Winter Soldier.

  5. Zerozep

    Wow just got home and went in with low expectations, but besides the occasional cheese and electros kinda weak motivation I thought this was awesome and on part with the other spidey 2, I thought it was great and even knowing the comics I was still on the edge of my seat, and I really have to say there are not too many villains but I can’t really say much about it without spoiling anything, but all in all great movie and can’t wait for the next, although the rumor of the sinister six movie being about redemption really sounds like garbage, villains introduced in this movie are pretty much evil lol

  6. The biggest issue I had with The Amazing Spider-Man was the tone of the film. It took itself so seriously at times that it made the idea of a guy getting super powers from a radioactive spider feel silly. Spider-Man’s root’s are in the earnest golden age of the character. By trying to make Spider-Man more grounded, it made the more fantastical aspects of the character much harder to accept.

    I really wish that Sony would’ve just continued the story created in the Raimi series. The third film wasted so much potential and left fans of those films with so many loose ends. Their was room to bring Venom back properly and start a new romance with Gwen Stacy. It would’ve been forgivable to recast most of the major characters. Instead we got another origin story with unnecessary changes just so that it felt different from the original We also got an actor and actress that were a little too distractingly well known to accept as Uncle Ben and Aunt May. Although, I didn’t mind Garfield in the lead role. He had the likable awkwardness for Peter Parker and the quick humor for Spider-Man. Emma Stone made an excellent Gwen Stacy. I also liked Dennis Leary as Gwen’s father. I really wished they had delayed his death so that we could’ve seen more of him in sequels.

  7. I loved the amazing Spiderman, I can’t even go back and watch Raimis versions anymore, the over acting, the soap opera drama and horrible performances from Kirsten dunst and Toby, just suck today, then I was fine, but the reboot brought the Spiderman I knew growing up to the big screen for the first time, all I did was watch the 90s cartoon as a kid and the new Spiderman felt so much like that, more serious but also funny with the proper portrayal of the Spidey character, I’m really looking forward to seeing this and really think that this new franchise is leagues above Raimis versions

  8. I actually think Raimi’s Spider-man 2 set the bar for how good a Spidey flick can be…I have not idea why some people hate that film – I think it’s one of the best comic book movies made in the past couple decades. Then again, people seem to dismiss Superman: The Movie these days – and I still think that’s the gold standard for superhero flicks.

    There’s a good movie somewhere in the Amazing Spider-Man 2, but it’s surrounded by a really bad movie.

    • That wasn’t a very high bar. Although Raimi’s Spider-Man 2 was an exponential improvement over his first Spidey flick (which was terrible, IMO), it still only rose to the level of “Meh, it’s OK, I guess.”

      I haven’t seen either of Webb’s movies. Really have no interest in them. This whole franchise does nothing for me.

      As for Superman: The Movie, the first half is brilliant, but the second half is kind of awful.

  9. RMB

    This review is 100% crap. I just saw ASM2 and it is kick ass. Review could not be any further from the truth. I smelt the sewer as soon as he said he didn’t like the first one.
    Reviewer credentials 100% revoked.
    I would tell you to grow up but it sounds like you need to grow down a bit. Get in touch with what made comics special when you were a kid. EVERY superhero move, DareDevil aside, are a joy to watch. They couldn’t have made any of the best movies of the last 5 years when I was younger. Technology just wasn’t there. Seems to me they’re only getting better.

    • I liked the first one, and thought this one was a mess. There’s maybe a good 90 minute movie in there somewhere, but it’s like 5 minutes of good stuff to every 15 minutes of bad stuff. They could cut Jamie Foxx and Paul Giamatti completely out of the movie and probably have a better film.

  10. FJB

    The first Amazing Spider-Man movie was fantastic, leagues better than Raimi’s films and most other comic book movies. It has heart and soul. I can’t wait to see The Amazing Spider-Man 2 this weekend. I can tell by the biased review that the reviewer refuses to look past his own preconceived notions.

  11. We saw it yesterday. My wife and I liked it.
    C’mon guys it’s just a comic book made into a movie. Why are so many people personally offended? I think Garfield is ten times better as Spiderman than Mcguire was. We loved the 3D effects and the camera work. Too many villains? Besides the first 5 minutes crashing the streets and the last 5 minutes to give him a reason to come back involving the Russian, there are only 2 villains really. How can 2 villains be too many?
    It is not a 5 star movie, but for the acting of Garfield and Stone and the camera work it gets a straight 4 out of 5 from us.


  12. William Henley

    Wow, have we seen the same five Spiderman movies?

    I thought the first one was pretty good. A lot of people said it set the bar for superhero movies, but I think the 1970s Superman movie did that (unfortunately, it was followed up by three really bad THEATRICAL Superman movies – the Richard Donnar cut of 2 is pretty good). But really, in terms of the modern era, I think XMen in 2000 set the tone for comic-book movies. So Spidy 1 is pretty good in my book, but it certainly did not set the bar – Xmen did.

    Spiderman 2 was AWFUL! I would compare it with Batman and Robin, Catwoman or Superman 4.

    Spiderman 3 I did not care for either.

    Spiderman 2 and 3 were so bad, that I did not get around to watching The Amazing Spiderman until last week (mainly because my buddy wanted to see Amazing Spiderman 2, so I thought I should see the first). Oh my gosh, this is SO much better than any of the first three.

    I thought The Amazing Spiderman 2 was the best Spiderman movie to date! Fantastic character development, great fight scenes, great humor. And I actually cried in a Superhero movie, mainly because the thing that made me cry was such a surprise (trying to avoid spoilers). As a guy, I rarely cry in movies, but this one did it.

    In fact, I like The Amazing Spiderman 2 so much, I would say it is better than either Captain America movie (the new ones – well, its better than the old one too).

    Maybe I was just looking for something different in a Spiderman movie than you guys were.

    • I’m curious, what was it that you hated so much about Spiderman 2? I haven’t seen TASM 2 yet, but that notwithstanding I think Spiderman 2 is by far the best of the bucnh.

      • Chris B

        Yeah, Spider-man 2 was a perfect superhero movie, on par with The Avengers. What’s not to like about it?

        • Chris B

          Then again, you also state tha Superman 2 was AWFUL as well, so that sort of blows your credibility right there….no offense Will but that’s a ridiculous commet.

          • William Henley

            Have you seen the theatrical cut of Superman 2? Its just as bad as 3 and 4. The Richard Donnar cut of 2 was fantastic.

            I haven’t seen Spiderman 2 since it came out, but from what I remember, I found the acting over the top, the characters poorly fleshed out, laughable special effects, and the whole thing poorly written.

            And truthfully, I don’t see what the big deal is with The Avengers. I was very disappointed with it. It is, in my opinion, one of the weaker superhero movies to come out in the last 15 years, with the exception of Spiderman 2 and 3 and The Hulk and TDKR.

            Best superhero movies in the past 15 years, IMHO, are Batman Begins, the X-Men movies, Superman Returns, Amazing Spiderman 1 and 2, the Captain America movies, the Iron Man movies, and the Thor movies (although Thor is the weakest of the best).

    • Huh. To each their own I guess. I think Superman 2 is pretty great theatrical cut or otherwise. As for Spiderman 2, we’re talking about the same movie right? The one with Doctor Octopus? We all agree that the third with Venom & Sandman was garbage, but 2 was pretty damn great. Also agree that TDKR was pitiful. Which Hulk movie are you referring to? The one with Eric Bana or Edward Norton? The Ang Lee, Eric Bana Hulk movie was lame, but I think the Norton movie gets unfairly maligned. Admittedly it’s second to last for me in terms of MCU movies (last being Iron Man 2) but that’s akin to ranking Beatles albums as far as I’m concerned, even the worst is pretty damn good. Can’t even believe you’re calling out Avengers, damn…. I like the X-Men films as much as the next man, though 3 was a bit of a mess and the first Wolverine movie was an abortion (add Deadpool to the list of worst comic book movie villains) but they and Superman Returns among the best? X-Men 2 I’d agree with, but that’s about it.

      • William Henley

        Ugh, I forgot about that awful Wolverine movie. And I feel that XMen 3 is underrated. Yeah, it is probably the weakest, but it is still pretty darn good.

        As for The Hulk, the second one was certainly better, but its still pretty weak. Its not garbage like the first one was, just weak.

        I want to clarify what I said about The Avengers. It is very much like using your statement about Beatles albums – I am not saying the movie is bad, I am saying its overrated and on the weak side. i own this movie, if that says anything to you, and it has been watched.

        I do very much like the Richard Donner cut of Superman 2. It is amazing how you can have the same story, give it to two different directors, and have something that is gold verses a cheese fest. I actually almost didn’t watch the Donner cut – I mean, I was like how can you polish a turd, but I decided to give it a shot, and now I am trying to convince others that the movie is actually good if you watch his cut. Most people I know won’t watch anything other than the first. At least in my sphere of people, Superman 2 Theatrical is generally considered to be bad.

        I feel that Superman Returns is underrated. Yeah, let’s not get into the whole alternate timeline thing. As far as a movie, I felt this was pretty solid, and I loved how they tried to cast actors that were similar in appearence to the 70s and 80s movies. It had a good (although not great) story, and it was well executed.

        • Chris B

          Fair enough, I just have a lot of love for Superman 2 (both cuts), but as Shayne said: to each their own.

          I couldn’t stand X3, but hey what do expect with Brett Ratner directing it?

          I enjoyed both The Hulk and The Avengers, although I enjoyed the latter a fair bit more. I actually haven’t seen the first amazing Spider-Man yet but I’m going to make a point of it this week.

          As far as Superman Returns goes, I didn’t hate it, it started of fairly strong, Brandon Routh was a good casting choice, and the jet-liner sequence was really cool. Unfortunatley Kate Bosworth made a terrible Lois Lane, and the entire second half of the movie is so ugly to look at. Like the whole colour scheme degenerates into a dull, grey mishmash. I felt like the whole thing started off strong but went totally off the rails in the second hour.

  13. Mark B

    I”m glad I’m not the only person that didn’t care for this movie. While I don’t dislike it as much as the reviewer, I certainly left the theater incredibly disappointed. I kind of predicted this a long time ago, but I didn’t see how they were going to portray Electro properly. And I was really pissed about the Rhino hype either. The way they were hyping him up I expected him to be a bigger player in the movie.

    ~~It’s also refreshing to see the commenter’s consensus on their opinion of Spiderman 2. It’s still my favorite of the lot.

  14. Though alluded to in the previews, that subway car seemed like it fell out of a different script altogether. The Green Goblin makeup was unfortunate, and Peter Parker must be pretty slick to graduate school without ever attending. Hans Zimmer continues to be really good. Giamatti was goofy, but at least he wasn’t mad because it was his birthday or something, something, we were friends a decade ago.

  15. Finally saw this tonight and I pretty much agree with every review (positive and negative) that I’ve read about it. The good points (Peter & Gwen, Spiderman Spidermanning.) The bad points (the villains, retconned backstory, constantly reminding me of Joel Schumacher.) I might have loved this movie 15 years ago, but my expectations are higher now.


    What the hell is supposed to be the plot of the Sinister Six movie?

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