After a few promising trailers and behind the scenes clips released in the lead up to Marc Webb’s ‘The Amazing Spider-Man 2′ I was pumped for the sequel and believed that it showed promise, albeit for the fact that Sony seemed to have not learnt from their folly in Spiderman 3. This movie briefly flirts with the crown title of being the best Spider-Man movie to-date and the frustrating thing is that it could have been if they’d concentrated more on fewer villains and dialled back on the cheese.
When we first see Spider-Man in the film he is in free fall and we get a few moments of the hero swinging around the city. These scenes are the best the movie has to offer and as was the case with the last outing, the 3D really adds to the experience and so does the great decision to edit in footage filmed using a GoPro POV style. Parker’s Spidey Sense is also put to good use this time around and was wonderfully portrayed on screen. Other great moments in the film worth mentioning are those between Peter Parker and Aunt May. Sally Field is perfect for this role and just an all-round professional. Some of their exchanges really tug at your heart strings but I honestly wish they were in another film. The chemistry between Gwen Stacy and Peter Parker is another highlight and their relationship is even more complicated this time around. Peter feels guilty about the promise made to Captain Stacy in the last film and the fact that he constantly finds himself doing anything but stay away from Gwen constantly haunts him. This understandably gives rise to much conflict and although he never takes it to the Tobey Maguire squishy-face bawling level he damn near comes close, but for good reason. One of my favourite scenes in the movie is a simple one, where Peter’s in his garage trying to figure out how to take down Electro. Spider McGuyver was a great approach to take as it reminds us that he’s just a kid, has limited resources and has to face an extremely powerful villain.
Aside from some genuinely decent moments, the film in it’s entirety is a bloated rotting spider pinyata waiting to explode and spew forth millions of action figures and kids Happy Meals. It honestly didn’t have to be this way and my feeling is that there was once again pressure from Sony, which Raimi used as his excuse for Spiderman 3 being such a cock up. I think what really prevented me from enjoying the movie as a whole is the fact that they decided to reboot the franchise because of the bad scripting in Spiderman 3, but went on ahead and made the same mistakes that movie does. Say what you will about Tobey Maguire, but his Spiderman 2 still stands in my mind as the best outing the web-head has ever had on the big screen. Basically what it boils down to is the fact that the movie had an excellent villain in Dr. Otto Octavius, played perfectly by Alfred Molina. This time around, however Spiderman suffers from some genuinely Batman-and-Robin-bad acting. Paul Giamatti’s character Aleksei Sytsevich aka The Rhino only has a total of about 10 minutes screen time thanks to some poor pacing in the screenplay department. Giamatti, Foxx and DeHaan are clearly having a great time playing the villains but thanks to some poor writing decisions and their insistence on being campy, the film is quite a let down. Visually, the effects on Electro are truly spectacular. His look is phenomenal, and when he uses his abilities, you really do feel the power behind them. Unfortunately, his back-story and characterization are flawed. I liked the origin they chose for Electro and it was a very effective way to bring this villain to the screen, but it’s marred by Jamie Foxx’s insistence on spewing cheesy one-liners. I honestly cannot believe this is the same actor who turned in such a wonderful performance in Django Unchained, but then I remembered the crapfest that was White House Down. I really enjoyed DeHaan’s acting in the fantastic “Chronicle” but he too is let down by a rushed script. Another gripe I had was the typical cliche’d mad scientist character Dr. Kafka who is a horrible caricature with a fake, overdone accent.
The soundtrack is one of the worst I’ve ever had the displeasure to sit through and I was reminded just how important this element can be in a film. It sets the mood and adds to the emotional investment we have in the characters on screen. However, when there is a hack you decided to hire because you spent your budget on CGI, stunts and Jamie Foxx, a bad composer can really screw up your movie in a bad way. Another let down in this recently-rebooted franchise is the story arc with Peter’s parents. They left us hanging in the last film, wondering what was in the briefcase his father left him and this time around there is an even greater emphasis on it than before. This leads to Peter creating a literal ‘web’ on his wall in the hopes of trying to solve the mystery and the pay-off is not only less than satisfying, but it also requires you to take a few logical leaps in order to digest the information. Unfortunately I can’t go into much detail here because we’d be heading into some serious spoiler territory but I thought it undermined everything that Spider-Man is and comes across as very contrived.
When all is said and done though, I still feel like they can truly pull off an amazing Spider-Man film with Garfield in the red and blue. To me, he really is Spider-Man and it’s the little things that make me want to believe. Taking time out to help a kid who’s science project is being crushed by bullies, donning a fireman’s hat to hose down a very aggro Electro and almost being late for his own graduation. These little things seem like they’re pulled straight from the comics we love. The other confusing thing about the film is their insistence on never even once showing Parker’s dealings with J. Jonah Jameson and the Daily Bugle. Okay, there is a short e-mail exchange between him and J.J. but I would have liked to have seen him bring his pics in and get an earful of J.J. ranting about how bad Spider-Man is. I think it would have been fitting, because for once I may have been inclined to agree with him this time.
Looking for another take? Read Joel’s review HERE