Movie Review: ‘The Amazing Spider-Man 2: Rise of Electro’


Director: Marc Webb

Cast: Andrew Garfield, Emma Stone, Sally Field, Jamie Foxx, Dane DeHaan, Paul Giamatti, Dennis Leary

Plot: As Peter Parker is haunted by the death of Capt. Stacy and investigates the death of his parents he tries to hold his relationship with Gwen together. Meanwhile, a Spider-Man fanboy, a long lost childhood friend and a Russian mobster all become super-villains.

Review: Damnit, you were doing so, so well! The Amazing Spider-Man got the franchise back on track with a new cast and new look. Then…this.

I rewatched The Amazing Spider-Man today and it struck me that it could use a little more action and a little less conversation. With three big villains lined up for the sequel it looked like we were getting just that. There’s the issue of setting up three different super-powered enemies distracting from the main plot, but the trailer indicates that they all come from Oscorp’s secret project room, making them all part of the same plot thread. Awesome.

It’s a pity they didn’t do that.

Ok, fine…it’s not terrible. There are some very strong elements. We’ll address them first.

Garfield and Stone as Peter Parker/Spider-Man and Gwen Stacy remain the heart of the movie. They have a genuine arc based on their relationship rather then her being kidnapped to motivate the hero. They’re both loveable characters with the goofy Parker and pixie-ish Gwen selling a believable couple and they turn in good performances. Sally Field is also good even though they don’t give her much story. Dane DeHaan, who impressed audiences in the low budget superhero flick Chronicle, is well cast as Harry Osbourne. He manages to impress past some of the weird character design, but we’re get to that soon.


The action is as good as you’ll expect. Whenever Electro is let loose it gets damn exciting, with impressive use of slow motion to let audiences keep up with the chaos. The effects of Spider-Man’s movements are one of the highlights. The details on his suit being blown by the breeze as he swings around the city really cements the impression of speed. As far as a representation of Spider-Man in the real world goes, it is the most impressive. This is weird, but I liked the fact they’d made the soles of his feet dirty. It’s a nice touch that shows they were thinking things through.

Action, relationships, performances…all good, right? Well, there’s the matter of the story. There isn’t one. There’s a series of plot points mostly used to set up a third film but there’s no cohesion. We begin with some scenes about Parker’s parents, and occasionally he spends some time trying to find out…something. It’s not clear what kind of closure Parker is looking for regarding his parents. Did they really die, what were they working on, what was their connection to Oscorp…he just seems to being ‘researching’ them. When he does uncover their big secret it raises more questions like ‘how the hell did they set that up and hide it is a disused train station?’ Then the whole plot vanishes without changing anything in the big picture. Like many sequels that slip in ‘previously unseen details’ this makes everything feel like a big coincidence and cheapens the story.

Early in the film we get introduced to Max Dillon (Foxx), a lonely electrical technician who is obsessed with Spider-Man. And when we say obsessed we mean obsessed. Collecting toenail clippings from the trash and leaving dead animals in their bed obsessed, His entire apartment is plastered with pictures of Spider-Man and he spends his time pretending to talk to Spider-Man, and fantasising that Spider-Man brought him cake (totally not making that up). How did he get so insane and hung up on Spider-Man? That’s never really explained beyond Spider-Man saving him one time. He makes a point of telling everyone how lonely he is, and how no-one notices him, but since he’s always shown talking to people this is difficult to believe. the way he zones out every time someone mentions Spider-Man is outright bad acting, coupled with bad writing. He fantasises about attacking his asshole boss when he quips ‘sure, and I’m Spider-Man’. It’s just odd.


‘Can I get your autograph before I murder you?’

Eventually he gets bitten by electric eels and this turns him in to Electro (spider bites make Spider-Man, electric eel bites make Electro: science). Electro is angry because people like Spider-Man more, and because he’s lonely, and because Oscorp stole his designs or something…he’s basically and electric guy for Spider-Man to fight. Fight scenes are awesome, but despite the sub-title of the film being Rise of Electro he winds up being muscle for Harry Osbourne.

Harry has the more interesting character arc, and as said before it’s a good performance. But they do nothing to hide the fact that he’s going to turn evil. He shares a hair stylist with Adolf Hitler and every room he uses is decorated with dead animals (including a random conference room). He returns home to where his father Norman (Oscar winner Chris Cooper for some reason) is dying of an illness that makes you green and scaly and grow talons. Harry has the same condition and needs Spider-Man’s blood to cure himself somehow. It would be better if more time was spent on this character rather than Electro because he has a much bigger stake in Parker’s life. The two come from a shared past and experiences and their paths have recrossed for logical reasons, and he’s often more interesting that shouty Jamie Foxx. Because he shares the story with the bizzarre Electro backstory the emergence of the Green Goblin feels rushed.


‘I’m off to see mein barber.’

When Goblin does turn up, he’s genuinely interesting. Rather than a green mask or the Power Ranger suit of the previous franchise he’s a twisted, mutated human, similar to if Spider-Man’s transformation had gone wrong. This is the character who should have been pursuing Spider-Man for half the film, but sadly the glider only gets one scene.

Speaking of which, why the heck is The Rhino even on the poster?! When all the major villains had been taken care off we’d begun to think he’d been cut out at the last minute but he literally arrives in the final scene! At least Spidy and giant robot suit guy get a good fight…except they don’t. The entire fight between them is what you see in the trailer. That is not an exaggeration. The bit in the trailer where he flings a manhole cover at Rhino? That’s it. It’s baffling to see Oscar winner Paul Giamatti in this role because he has two scenes…and given sixth acting credit! He could’ve been played by a disembodied Russian accent for all he was needed.

The movie is littered with really strange creative choices. Parker keeps seeing Capt. Stacy around the place (Dennis Leary appearing in more scenes than Paul Giamatti), showing how haunted he is by Stacy’s death and his conflicted feelings about promising he wouldn’t date Gwen. Why is he so hung up on this guy and not Uncle Ben? We don’t even get a flashback of Ben imparting some good natured advice. You’d think the latter would have had a bigger lasting impact than his sort-of girlfriend’s father who he met twice. While Electro is imprisoned he’s experimented on by a really hammy German scientist character who does not fit in with the tone of the movie at all. It’s like someone who would have appeared in Batman & Robin. It’s camp and weird and, like much of the movie, doesn’t go anywhere.

There are a number of plot holes and coincidences that distract from the enjoyment of the movie, like Electro’s suit. After breaking out of prison wearing some tight fitting boxers, Electro is suddenly sporting a full, custom made spandex suit. It’s got little electric symbols on the sleeves and have a thunderstorm stencilled on the front. Where the hell did this thing come from? He could have visited Edna from The Incredibles in between scenes for all we know.

With such weak villain plot threads the movie winds up resting on the shoulders of the romantic sub-plot. Although well-acted and whatnot, it does slip in to romcom territory towards the end when we should be seeing Spider-Man facing down his enemies.

And don’t believe the lies on the poster – his enemies don’t unite against him. Green Goblin, Electro and Rhino NEVER appear on screen together. They each fight Spider-Man solo. It feels like the marketing department have led audiences astray with the promotion of the Rhino and a big monster mash fight scene.


More of this please.

This isn’t something I usually comment on, but the music is really odd, especially for Electro. Max Dillon starts with this really doofy track, which makes sense, but it continues when he becomes Electro. We’re supposed to be intimidated by this character and they’re playing backing music from a slapstick routine. Then it, and his mutterings, turn into an awful dubstep track that doesn’t set the scene but distracts from it.

The Amazing Spider-Man 2: Rise of Electro is not a movie. It’s a prelude to a bigger movie to follow. Parker doesn’t have any motive in this film beyond saving citizens because that’s what Spider-Man does. He doesn’t go to college and apart from one email exchange with Jamison he doesn’t have a job. The events of this film set up motivations for Parker to act in the next movie against those still standing at the end of this one. Every other sub-plot (Aunt May training to be a nurse in secret being a good example) goes nowhere. Apart from the non-character of Electro, the purpose of the villains is to form the basis of an evil team in the third film, with Doc Ock claws and Vulture wings dancing around the screen during the end credits, taunting us with the better movie we thought we were getting.

Adjust your expectations and you’ll probably enjoy it. It is, however, a step down from The Amazing Spider-Man. Quite disappointing.

Rating: FIVE outta TEN