Director: Marc Webb
Cast: Andrew Garfield, Emma Stone, Jamie Foxx, Dane DeHaan, Sally Field, Colm Feore, Paul Giamatti, Chris Cooper, Martin Csokas, Campbell Scott
Plot: As Peter (Garfield) and Gwen (Stone) drift apart, the heir of Oscorp (DeHaan) realises he is terminally ill and an electrician (Foxx) is involved in a horrific accident.
As the sequel to the rebooted Spiderman franchise plays out, doubts begin to creep in. Spiderman used to be the number one superhero for me as a kid, but surrounded by the unstoppable Marvel movies and the impressive return of the X-Men (not to mention the Justice League dominating the superhero news channel right now), Spiderman feels slightly out of his league. He seems a little late to the party, a light-hearted superhero flick with dark conspiracies and the beginnings of an epic storyline stretching out for sequel after sequel stapled together on the off-chance it can compete with the current genre champions. One moment, Marc Webb is going for his original ‘almost-Indie’ feel and the next moment he is whispering teasers about the Sinister Six spin-off. Tonally, The Amazing Spiderman still doesn’t know where it stands on the serious scale. It doesn’t help that the two Amazing Spiderman movies cannot shake this sense of pointlessness. As Peter Parker dumps Gwen Stacy for the umpteenth time, because he doesn’t want his enemies to hurt her (kind of spitting in the face of the neat, little ending the last movie gave us), we just remember that Sam Raimi did all this before. Harry Osborn discovers his father’s arsenal and evolves into the villain. A man is caught in a scientific experiment that turns him into a rampaging monster. Hell, even Marc Webb did that one himself last movie. Nothing is new with this movie.
However, as the movie hits its middle act, it almost wins you over. It helps that Marc Webb’s fight scenes are pretty epic. Sure, at times, it becomes a bit of a CGI mess, with Electro’s energy flying over the place as an animated Spiderman zooms around the skies. There is no Christopher Nolan grittiness with this superhero flick. However, it is exciting and Webb has a good eye for action, which is something we worried about, when he first stepped up as the Spiderman director. The best moments of the film are when the fight scenes freeze and we are given a rare insight into Spidey sense. Yes, Raimi also did these moments before, but unlike tired clichéd storylines, Spidey sense never gets old. It is fun to see how Spiderman gets out of situations that you can imagine other superheroes being perplexed at. Andrew Garfield totally nails the character, getting that arrogance that comes with being a superhuman idol, yet bringing it right back for those moments when Peter Parker needs to come across as helpless. An alter ego has never been more vulnerable than Garfield’s Peter. He is heart-breakingly honest when he shares a quiet moment with his Aunt, when he realises he cannot save his best friend’s life, when he just needs to tell Gwen Stacy he loves her.
The entire cast are on fine form and when the story begins to shake, they will hold it together. Sure, Jamie Foxx could be described as the odd one out, the script needing to hand him the nervous loner character rather than the actor finding his own feet with the role, yet the moment Dillon becomes Electro, we no longer need someone who can act, just a template for the special effects team to do their work. DeHaan, Cooper and Feore are in charge of being the villains and every one does a remarkable job. DeHaan’s spoilt rich boy who has distanced himself from close relationships is a nice change from James Franco’s more straight-faced performance. By the time, he has transformed into the Goblin, you will be amazed at the terrifying appearance, even if DeHaan does overact for that final confrontation. Cooper has one scene and totally dominates it as the infamous Norman Osborn. Feore is suitable as the mid-act bad guy, who keeps things menacing while we wait for the real villains to discover their powers. One wonders where the last movie’s Irrfan Khan got to, a character already developed and waiting to step into the role that Feore has. Of course, the best thing about this film is Emma Stone, putting everyone else to shame with her loveable, determined Gwen Stacy. She is resourceful, funny and the direction the movie takes the character is a clever one. When she leaves the franchise, the replacement has a lot of work cut out for them.
Sadly, the finale of this film is a little hit and miss. I liked it. Don’t get me wrong, there wasn’t a lot to complain about. Electro’s fight was an amazing set-piece and the reveal of the Goblin was done well, especially when Webb begins playing with the comic book canon. The problem was that it was far too bloated. The villains were balanced a little better than they were with Spiderman 3, but we still wanted the ending to slow itself down, so we could enjoy what we were seeing. DeHaan’s showdown with Garfield was cut far too short, which is a shame, because it had the opportunity to be the movie battle of 2014. It is all very well and good developing the love story between Stacy and Parker, but when the main reason people show up to a superhero flick is the villains, you want them to be done a little better. Tonally awkward, but not a complete disaster.
Final Verdict: Yes, it could have been better, especially with pacing and narrative choices, but overall The Amazing Spiderman 2 is a fun superhero movie that features some incredible set-pieces.