The Amazing Spider-Man 2 (Marc Webb, 2014)

Thoroughly piquing my skepticism regarding cinematic superhero properties, The Amazing Spider-Man 2 isn’t so much an improvement over its predecessor as it is scatterbrained and occasionally stilted. Picking up where said first film left off, Peter Parker’s (Andrew Garfield) struggle to balance his double life intensifies as we expect it would, distancing himself from girlfriend Gwen Stacy (Emma Stone) if only to satisfy her father’s dying wish. Following a freak accident at multifaceted conglomerate Oscorp however, a lonely everyman (Jamie Foxx) is transformed into Spidey’s new electricity-harnessing foe, Electro, of whom is hellbent on wreaking havoc on New York City and those who unjustly ignored his existence.

In first exploring the film’s obvious if minor merits, Webb’s rendition of the web slinger’s mythos palpably oozes charisma as it capitalizes on chemistry between leads. As the central performances’ appeal pair well enough with basally involving superhero trappings, the proceedings feel more intent on establishing viewers’ attachment to and perception of these characters over consistently compelling substance. Granted, this should be and usually is enough to hold one’s interest, but in direct comparison to Marvel’s Avengers sect of filmmaking, Spidey’s endeavors fall flat as a wraparound arc involving Peter’s parents rings a bit too simplistic among sparse bits of villainous conflict.

Despite the obvious unfairness coinciding with my aforementioned comparison, efforts such as last month’s Captain America: The Winter Soldier carry with them a narrative slew of all-encompassing impetuses, more specifically ones that pass from film to film as an involving sense of innerconnectivity keeps audiences coming back for more. With this in mind, The Amazing Spider-Man 2 tangibly suffers from its inability to pair with the far reaches of its characters’ comic book cohorts, meaning that future installments will once again be predictable Point-A-to-B yarns as more nondynamic villains are introduced, defeated and/or reimplemented as Peter shields Spidey’s true identity from the prying public.

Now I know the powers-that-be can’t help but blatantly ignore these shortcomings, and I know people find a hefty amount of pleasure in merely seeing their favorite superhero brought to life via continued cinematic interpretations, but one thing is still clear: The Amazing Spider-Man franchise is losing steam before it even hits its full stride. As its bloated narrative fails to do anything but just that – bloat – the only thing taken away from this sequel’s endgame is the startling albeit decades-old turn of events waiting for us as the next film comes to inevitable fruition. The action is glaringly bland, the villains exist out of basal necessity and an overbearing focus on human emotionality and relationships over everything else can only carry things so far. It isn’t terrible, but future entries into the series need to do more than just introduce unfettered turmoil into Peter Parker’s life if they’re to assuredly captivate us.

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