Review: The Amazing Spider-Man 2

amazing spider-man-2 poster

The sequel to the surprisingly good The Amazing Spider-Man came out this week amid huge anticipation and a giant advertising campaign. The film reunites director Marc Webb with Andrew Garfield and Emma Stone as Peter Parker/Spider-Man and his love interest, Gwen Stacy, respectively. Sally Field returns as Peter’s Aunt May and, this time, there are three villains… kind of. (Anyone else remember 2007’s Spider-Man 3?!)

The big story surrounding The Amazing Spider-Man 2 has been the relationship between Garfield and Stone which began while filming the first film. This was one of the reasons that the first film worked as well as it did; it was the story of a couple beginning a relationship, which they were doing in real life, so their chemistry was electric.

At the beginning of this movie, Parker is having difficulty balancing his relationship and his want to fight crime in New York City. Of which there seems to be a ton, if the opening 20 minutes are to be believed: lots of massive car accidents in fact. He is wracked with guilt about going back on his word to Gwen’s dying father to leave her alone to keep her safe. Again, their chemistry is really good, but it doesn’t blow you away as much as people would have you believe it will.

The balance between Peter Parker’s life and Spider-Man’s is handled really well and though there is a lot of Peter Parker character development, there is enough Spider-Man action to keep the story rolling along at a quick pace. This is quite unlike the recent trend from super hero films from The Dark Knight Rises to Iron Man 3.

In fact, the whole tone of the film is very light with Spider-Man’s Roger Moore style quips whenever he interacts with anyone and the over the top acting from Jamie Foxx as Max Dillon and Paul Giamatti’s blink-and-you-miss-him turn as The Rhino. Max Dillon is a Spider-Man obsessed fanboy who fantasizes about being the web-slinger’s  friend while being a complete loner who is looked down on by everyone he works with, while Giamatti chews the scenery so much as a Russian mobster, who eventually becomes The Rhino that he must have been picking bits of the set from his teeth for weeks.

The main villain is played by Jamie Foxx after his character has an unfortunate accident involving a tank of electric eels and mains electricity. He becomes a man made of pure electricity, fuelled by his obsession with wanting to be noticed, and a crushing paranoia; he calls himself Electro and is powered by, and has control of, electricity.  The character looks better than he did in the trailers, but still doesn’t stand up to the effects used to render Dr. Manhattan in Watchmen. He is, however, one of the best Spider-Man villains to be portrayed on the big screen as he doesn’t have the standard regret that villains like The Lizard from the first Andrew Garfield movie and Doctor Octopus from the Tobey Maguire films, even though he is a conflicted character.

The third villain starts off life as the standard Spider-Man villain archetype: someone who is in pursuit of a way to save his life when something goes wrong that turns him evil. In this case Dane Dehaan plays Harry Osborn, the heir to Oscorp – the fictional corporation in the centre of the Spider-Man universe which is responsible for creating the majority of Spider-Man’s villains. Osborn inherits the company from his father, Norman (Chris Cooper), who reveals they share a degenerative disease before passing away. Harry is the childhood friend of Peter Parker who has photographed Spider-Man. Harry wants Spider-Man’s blood to try to cure the disease, but Spider-Man declines pushing Harry over the edge and he eventually becomes the Green Goblin in quite an horrific transformation scene.

Both Electro and the Green Goblin join forces to destroy Spider-Man and huge, special effects-laden fight scenes ensue. The big action set pieces look amazing and sometimes slow to a complete stop so you can fully take in the fine details of what is going on as the speed at which the action moves is break-neck. Some of this smacks a little of a director showing off, but when you’ve got this much money, why not show the time it takes for the passengers on a bus to react to the fact they just got hit by a truck and saved by a super hero?

There are certainly some goofy moments, such as Electro beating Spidey around a group of generators that play out the notes to ‘Itsy-Bitsy Spider’. The inclusion of a mad German doctor who experiments on Electro was even more camp than Toby Jones’ Dr. Zola from Captain America: Winter Soldier. Worst of all though was The Rhino, whose body armour looked pretty stupid in a world where the Iron Man armour effect exists and his acting is off the charts.  It’s more pantomime-y than comic-book-camp.

This is a fun, thrill-ride of a movie and Spider-Man is one of the more upbeat characters in a sea of navel-gazing super heroes, which will especially appeal to a younger audience. Though it has its flaws, it more than makes up for them with spectacular visuals and a snappy script delivered by some solid acting (even if some of it is turned up past eleven), and puts to rest the spectre of the Spider-Man 3 comparisons.


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