Andrew Garfield and Emma Stone shine in an otherwise average reboot.
Coming two years after the lacklustre Spider-Man reboot, The Amazing Spider-Man 2 suffers from much the same problems, and enjoys much the same successes, as its predecessor.
The film is haphazard in its storytelling. There are so many balls being juggled that scenes happen largely unmotivated, without rhyme or reason behind placement. Or rather the reason is because the plot dictates this must happen, so it might as well happen here.
Yet several of those things that must happen end up going nowhere at all. Moreover there are enough threads in the first half, that it takes roughly 700 years of its 2 hour 20 minute runtime to develop any sense of narrative momentum. It crawls along in fits and starts, as if someone pulled a leg off this particular spider.
Tonally as well as structurally The Amazing Spider-Man 2 is confused. The teen drama of the picture uses a low-key, mumblecore approach, but this clashes violently with the campiness brought by Jamie Foxx’s Electro. While there is a certain style to his depiction (the thumpingly scored internal dialogue is rather novel) it feels like something that may have been more at home in Sam Raimi’s version of the franchise. Except Raimi might have got us to buy the character turn. As it is, Electro has most in common with Schumacher-era Batman villains – specifically paper thin motivations and enough ham and cheese to put off any vegans in the audience.
The midpoint set piece with the villain does manage to be fairly thrilling in its staging, and there is a lovely verve to Spidey’s opening action scenes, but, equally, there are several instances of super heroics that fall flat.
The lead actors can be thanked for any effectiveness the film does have. Andrew Garfield’s slacker-esque Peter Parker could still feel like an odd fit for some, but he readily embodies the inherent humanity of the character and his character’s increased quippiness is a much appreciated addition to the rebooted franchise. His chemistry with real-life partner Emma Stone is palpable, and their relationship provides a stable core to the picture, in spite of forced plot contrivances. Meanwhile fresh off his excellent turn in Chronicle, Dane DeHaan makes his Harry Osbourne menacing even when showing an awkward charm. It is a testament to this central triumvirate that the climax of the film has as much poignancy as it does, despite the bungled story structure.
Of course, director Marc Webb deserves credit for these interpersonal relationships too. In fact, taken individually there are a heap of well done scenes that display some strong human emotion. But when they’re strung together, next to a human plasma lamp and some nonsensical plotting, they become less than a sum of their parts.
Perhaps the most pervading factor against The Amazing Spider-Man 2 is that it has only been 10 years since the last Spiderman 2, and that was a superhero movie that cast a long shadow. It is hard to see the rebooted franchise as anything except nice-looking cash grab that lucked into being exceptionally well cast. Spider-Man 2 was amazing, The Amazing Spider-Man 2 is enjoyable at best, trudging at worst, but mostly just kind of adequate. I wonder if The Adequate Spider-Man 2 would sell as many tickets. Probably.
Photo courtesy of BagoGames, with thanks.
Follow us @SW_Londoner