Director: Marc Webb
Starring: Andrew Garfield, Emma Stone, Jamie Foxx, Dane DeHaan, Felicity Jones, Sally Field, Paul Giamatti, Colm Feore
Written by: (Screen story also) Alex Kurtzman, Roberto Orci, Jeff Pinkner, (screen story only) James Vanderbilt, (based on the characters created) Stan Lee and Steve Ditko.
Running Time: 142 mins
Release date: 16th April 2014
When Sony released a reboot of the Spider-Man series a few years back, people, including myself, were scratching their heads wondering why? Why so soon after the successful Tobey Maguire/Sam Raimi films did we need the whole story retold with a new lead, new director but same tale? Now, two years down the line we get The Amazing Spider-Man 2 and there is a certain understanding behind Sony’s madness. We didn’t see the bigger picture because this film introduces us the Spider-Man Universe, just as Iron-Man, Thor and Captain America introduced us to The Avengers world. The reboots are only the beginning.
Peter Parker, whose alter-ego is that of web-slinging Spider-Man, is having the time of his life saving New Yorkers and being Mr Popular, even though some feel he’s nothing more than a vigilante. Behind the fun, lurks much darker times for the young man; the longing to understand the truth about his parents as well as his emotional attachment to spunky Gwen Stacy, for which he is having flashes of her deceased father. While coping with his personal life, he has to deal with a new super villain, a man full of electricity called Electro as well as a face from the past, Harry Osborn, who needs Parker’s help. Osborn is dying and the only thing that can save him is the blood of Spider-Man.
Straight of the bat, this is a loud, flashy, in-your-face superhero adventure that has so many set pieces, it will make your head spin. When they come, you sure as hell know it. They come at you from all angles and you sometimes get totally confused as to what exactly is going on. Like Raimi’s third and final Spider-Man movie, we are given not one, or two but three villains for the web-head to fight and this is when less is more (although we only get a short glimpse at one baddie and hints of more to come).
So fans of loud, crash, bang, special effects will have a field day. The Electro scenes in particular are both impressive and slightly bonkers with lightning bolts everywhere you look while the sight of the red and blue of Spidey slips through them. It does become like a headache in front of your eyes. Which is perfect fine for the younger members of the audience who want to see brightly shot explosions of lights.
What really works for this Spider-Man is the human drama, although even here it’s a little like emotional overload. The relationship between Peter and Gwen takes all kinds of twists and turns and is certainly at the heart of the story. This is, basically, a romance between a man battling with his demons and a girl who is just as strong, if not stronger, emotionally and mentally, than he is. The bond between the two is incredibly believable (maybe because the leads are a couple in real life) and surprisingly touching. Add to the mix, Peter’s desperation to discover his family’s past and the introduction of Harry Osborn, as the two former friends both cope with abandonment issues, then throw in a villain who has spent his life being invisible and then…
Stop! Overload! Too much! In the search to make the Spider-Man series much more believable than most superhero films, director Marc Webb and his band of writers have given us too much story, too many subplots, too many strands to follow as well as throwing in another explosive fight sequence. It seems that Webb was given 142 mins to fill and fill it he will. It never gets dull or boring. just feels too crammed.
Thankfully the film has plenty of goodies to chew on. The performances are mainly strong. Andrew Garfield has become Spider-Man and memories of Mr Maguire (sorry, Tobey) seem a long way off. He brings depth and humanity to the role while still managing to keep that cocky kid attitude. Emma Stone has equally grown into the role of Gwen and while they work well separate, they are magical together.
On the villain side, Jamie Foxx as geeky Max who turns into Electro, is given the least to do. His Max seems very one-dimensional and Elector, while impressive with his effects, comes along with his electrically altered voice, doesn’t match up to some of the past baddies and you are never quite sure why he hates Spider-Man so much when he was originally his biggest fan. He also has to cope with the scene-stealing Dane DeHaan as Harry Osborn. With his unique looks and creepy persona, DeHaan makes for a much darker and brooding Harry than James Franco did in the original films and when things change for him (in a scene that some very young audience members may find too disturbing) he looks more than the part.
The Amazing Spider-Man 2 is a much better, dense, more exciting film than the first. There’s plenty of tense moments to keep you at the edge of your seats and the scene in Times Square is beyond spectacular. It more than just another action film and it plays as a nice build-up to future Amazing Spider-Man films (as well as the rumoured villain spin-off). As blockbusters go, it ticks all the right boxes and then some.