Starring: Andrew Garfield, Emma Stone, Jamie Foxx
Genre: Action/ Adventure/ Comic Book
Despite being very much settled into his role as Spider-Man, Peter Parker (Garfield) is still struggling to balance being Spider-Man, Peter Parker and his relationship with the love of his life Gwen Stacy (Stone). Remembering the last words of her dying father telling him to stay away, and knowing that he is destined to make great enemies, Peter is torn between his love for her and not wanting to ever put her in danger. Living constantly in the shadow of the mighty Oscorp and the mysteries surrounding his father’s death, Peter/ Spider-Man finds himself unwittingly involved in his greatest battle yet: Against Electro (Foxx), who after an accident can control all of New York’s electricity, as well as against Peter’s returning and deeply embittered best friend, Harry Osborn (Dane DeHaan).
The Hollywood pipeline seems more than ever to be fascinated with creating a franchise, hence why trying to turn every series of best-selling books into film’s and even splitting some of those books in half (or into thirds like Peter Jackson!). With confirming there will not only be The Amazing Spider-Man 3 and 4, but also a Sinister Six film (No, I don’t know how that would work either), Sony seem very excited to have a franchise in place to revil The Avengers, however on the evidence here seem way too excited to either focus on or perhaps even care about making The Amazing Spider-Man 2 a decent film in its own right. Number one, with the whole origin story and setting up the world of the character is fine (and I thought number one was a total mess too), but now we are getting to number two it is not too much to expect a clear and good linear narrative in its own right.
In no way is The Amazing Spider-Man 2 a bad film, it is enjoyable enough forgettable escapism and looks expensive (as it should), but it is just a total mess that feels like the studio were just in a hurry to get it out of the way for the sequels. What makes this even worse is that the villains here had potential for very interesting character arcs. However screenwriters Alex Kurtzman and Robert Orci seem to trawl through as many villains as they can and hint at others in the future, but treat them all as throw away and never develop on their potential. A sympathetic or at least genuinely interesting antagonist always in my view makes for a far better film of this genre, but the potentially interesting arcs of Max Dillon/Electro and Harry Osborn/Green Goblin are never given the development they deserve, making the film far less involving than it could have been. Though they may appear in future films, they all feel superfluous and merely there for the convenience of the plot and need for expensive set pieces.
This is also a shameful waste of acting talent as Jamie Foxx admittedly hams it up, but is a very watchable screen presence as the initially good intentioned Max Dillon. Of course it comes as no shock to see an excellently edgy and intense performance from Dane DeHaan, as well as an impressive side parting. Adding deep bitterness to every line of dialogue, DeHann dominates every scene he is in, and is the complete opposite to Peter Parker. As Peter Parker/ Spider-Man, Garfield feels even more like he has made the role his own. As Peter, Garfield gives a performance of great depth making for a great protagonist to genuinely root for, it is just a shame the script sometimes struggles to match Gardfield’s high standards and range. Of course, unlike many of our super heroes, Peter is a young adult, and contained within Spider-Man is still that element of naivety and raw ‘this is so cool’ energy. Every time Peter dons the spandex a quip or witty one liner is only seconds away, and though it does capture his younger nature, these gags do feel over done. The constant attempts at humour also undermine some of the darker and more serious tones of the narrative, making the sudden transition from light to dark feel contrived and extremely clunky, lacking the desired emotional engagement and impact.
Likewise Peter’s relationship with Gwen: there is no denying the two actors share a great on screen chemistry that lights up the often bland and clichéd dialogue. However the scenes they share and talk about their relationship issues are overwritten and very repetitive, becoming annoying at times. This also had the potential for an interesting and engaging dynamic of the film, but once again the writers seem to have scored a massive own goal. Any emotional twists or developments in the plot are quite obvious, lessening by far their actual emotional impact.
The set pieces themselves do look expensive, but feel like they are there because they have to be, with a feeling like they are not particularly well thought and out certainly suffer as a result. Not only do they feel like they are actually a distraction from the overall story and its characters, but never grip or excite like set pieces that cost this much should. To make matters worse Marc Webb decides to go for occasional slow motion shots which may be intended to add a feeling of the spectacular, but often just look silly. Despite trying to cram so much in, at 142 minutes The Amazing Spider-Man 2 is too long and often quite slow, but for pure super hero escapism just about entertains and serves its purpose, partly down to its promise for bigger and better things in the future. I hope it delivers on its promise.
I was personally quite excited to hear the prolific Hans Zimmer was taking over composing duties, even though I thought James Horner did a decent job with number one. However, though hoping we would have Dark Knight style rousing strings and pounding drums, the score is actually predominantly conventional and uninvolving. Of course it is actually composed by Hans Zimmer and the Magnificent Six (if it is actually supposed to be a pun, it is rubbish!), so I have no idea how much Hans was actually involved, and it may be a case of too many cooks spoiling that broth.
A complete narrative mess that wastes so much potential, The Amazing Spider-Man 2 focuses way too much on setting up its sequels at the expense of utilising potential interesting characters. Thanks mainly to great performances elevating the lacklustre material, it still just about entertains, I just hope all that setting up is utilised in the next instalments.