Spider-Man is so emo. Oh sure, he fires off wisecracks at super-villains while dodging bullets and swinging between skyscrapers, but deep down he’s a delicate flower.
Such is the Spider-Man/Peter Parker played by Andrew Garfield in the sequel to the reboot “The Amazing Spider-Man 2.”
I had no real beef with the first “The Amazing Spider-Man,” even though it was made for the most cynical of reasons, which was so Sony could retain the movie rights to the web-slinging superhero.
The first film was light and bouncy and did a good job of portraying Peter Parker as an unassuming teen who rises to the challenge of being able to stick on walls.
Unfortunately, hanging out with Spidey this time around is a big fat bummer. I am all for seeing the softer side of my superheroes, but Peter spends way more time crying, or about to cry, than he does socking genetically-altered, evil-doers in the jaw.
It’s hard to get that pumped up about a comic book hero who would rather spend his time listening to Morrissey albums and talking about his feelings than saving the day.
So what is Spider-Man so sad about? All kinds of stuff. He’s sad because his parents are dead, he’s sad because Aunt May (the eternally wonderful Sally Field) is sad because Uncle Ben is dead and he is sad because his long-lost-best-friend-and-billionaire-heir-of-the-corporation-that-may-or-may-not-have-killed-his-parents Harry Osborne (Dane DeHaan) is dying of a rare disease.
But what makes him the saddest is a breakup with his girlfriend Gwen Stacy (the lovely, the talented, the should-be-in-more-movies Emma Stone). Peter is haunted by visions of her father, a spectral Denis Leary, to whom he vowed to stay away from Gwen as to protect her from super-villainy.
I am generally a fan of director Marc Webb and will staunchly defend “(500) Days of Summer” as one of the greatest male chick-flicks of all time. The first time around Webb did a fine job of showing Spider-Man as an adolescent trying to make sense of a crazy, mixed-up world.
With “The Amazing Spider-Man 2” the whole movie gets saddled with an adolescent worldview. Setting aside Peter’s personal teenage wasteland, the goofy bad-guy Electro (played without a trace of self-awareness by Jamie Foxx) is out to zap greater Manhattan apparently because he wants to be more popular.
I suppose we’ll learn in the next movie that Doctor Octopus starts robbing banks because he wasn’t voted senior class president.
Look, I see what Webb is doing here and applaud him for wanting to inject a little heart into this muscle-bound genre, but he went a bit overboard and the result is death by overdose.
He also didn’t get much to work with, being handed a clunky, overworked script that has seven (!) names attached to it. Talk about overkill.
It doesn’t help matters that this movie falls into a marketplace dominated by the well-oiled creative machine over at Marvel Studios. Spider-Man’s wash-rinse-repeat cinematic adventures are already feeling stale, and it will only get worse as Sony continues to crank these suckers out every few years just to retain the rights to this red and blue goldmine.
It would be exciting to see what would happen if Marvel were able to bring their flagship character back into the fold; unfortunately, that isn’t happening any time soon as long as the money keeps rolling in. Now that’s something for Spider-Man to cry about.
“The Amazing Spider-Man 2” is rated PG-13 for sequences of sci-fi action/violence.