The Amazing Spiderman 2

In cinemas now!

A great looking breezy enough addition to the plethora of superhero films doing the rounds this decade, The Amazing Spiderman 2 doesn’t quite live up to its title. Fun and exciting perhaps - but not amazing. This series suffers from over familiarity more than anything. Coming so hard on the heels of the previous versions and in the midst of so many similar films, the standard is now impossibly high and inevitably you find yourself thinking you’ve seen all this before, probably very recently. 

In some ways it feels like a third film in the franchise with a few years having passed since the first as Peter Parker is graduating from high school whilst moonlighting as the city’s vigilante crime fighter with the sort of cheeky quips they used to do in the old cartoon series. His ring tone is an in joke, Stan Lee is spotted early and the first villain we encounter is an East European stereotype played without embarrassment by Paul Giamatti. Incidentally he turns up again at the end inside a metal giant rhino (really!) which is the most ridiculous thing you’ve ever witnessed in a superhero film. I look forward to seeing if they can top this- perhaps a villain called The Goat?! Who would of course be a giant metal goat firing though it’s horns! Monty Python feels a whisper away when you witness scenes like this.
Matters soon settle into a more serious two pronged narrative as Peter and Gwen break up, then get back together (unconvincingly in both cases) while Peter’s hitherto unmentioned “best pal” Harry Osborn inherits not just his father’s business empire but bizarre Goblinesque qualities. Crashing into everything is new villain Max Dillon who- again rather familiarly- is a mild mannered Spiderman fan whose transformation into the electricity wielding Electro brings him to hate his hero.
Andrew Garfield is great at doing wise cracking confidence but his brooding is less successful partly because the trail he is following is somewhat predictable. His best scenes are with Gwen – a playful Emma Stone- and Aunt May (Sally Field). The script offers him no middle ground either- Peter is either full of fun or down in the dumps yet there is something about Garfield’s performance that makes you root for him anyway. As Harry, the always excellent Dane De Haan does a great job of distinguishing himself from previous versions though his potentially interesting storyline is somewhat truncated; perhaps he should have been left till the third film? Jamie Foxx’s initially bumbling muttering Max undergoes a remarkable transformation into a  blue skinned glowing being  and the actor manages to maintain some character afterwards. His actual storyline however is somewhat unbelievable even in the context of this fictional world though.


The final showdown is undeniably dynamic with sparks literally flying everywhere but combat fatigue means that after two hours you may feel rather weary of things exploding and falling over and pine for some human drama. Just like the previous franchise an over burdening of villains means nobody really gets the space they need despite the nigh on two and a half hours running time.  Electro’s despatching is unlikely- Spidey’s magnetic wrist shooters managing to hold back the entire power of the city- though at this stage it’s best to go with it! The shock ending involving Gwen while staged with some nerve shredding qualities seems to lack the emotional impact you might expect.
There are some great individual scenes; the opening tightly shot plane fight in particular stands out and our view of Spiderman’s building leaping is always involving but the film seems to miss opportunities to go a little deeper. The most telling scene is Electro’s initial public appearance in Times Square which is terrific, mixing action with the moments when the former Max sees his image on the screens. The idea of his wish to be noticed, his delight when people know his name and his bubbling resentment when Spiderman’s face replaces his own gives the static filled sequence a purpose. It is a hint at how interesting this film might have been if restricted to one antagonist and more focussed on things we can relate to.

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