Having sorted out the kinks (and most of his raging hormones) after the first movie, sequel-Spidey swings to greater heights… but still falls short of fully satisfying our appetites.
For those of you who read my less than favourable review of the first rebooted Spider-Man film, it is no secret that while I did not consider it a bad film, I vastly preferred the Sam Raimi trilogy starring Maguire–Dunst–Franco. After watching The Amazing Spider-Man 2, I am no longer sure which Spidey I prefer.
Garfield-edition Spidey is supremely more relatable for the youthful 21st century audience (speaking as one myself), that much we are certain. The highly digitised 2010s is vastly different from the 2002 world in which Tobey Maguire and Kirsten Dunst had their famed upside-down kiss. Now that we’ve established this plus point, let’s put the comparisons to the Sam Raimi trilogy aside once and for all.
*** MINI-SPOILERS MARK: Movie details discussed without major plot spoilers ***
After two years, your friendly neighborhood Spider-Man returns to the big screen a more mature (and thus, likeable) young man than the hot-headed kid donning the red and blue spandex in the first film. While Peter Parker’s (played by Andrew Garfield) nerve to date Gwen Stacy (played by Emma Stone) despite promising her dying father that he would keep away is off-putting, The Amazing Spider-Man 2 quickly establishes the guilt Peter feels about betraying this promise and how it has caused him to go back and forth in establishing a relationship with Gwen. Thankfully, this salvages his values and honour, which are, needless to say, essential qualities in a superhero. For many, it would actually be a prerequisite for Superhero-hood.
Another area in which Amazing Spidey 2 leaps high is cinematography, especially in its introduction of the film’s two baddies.
Harry Osborn’s (played by Dane DeHaan) transition into the glider-riding Green Goblin is panicked and eerie, thanks to stylishly used rapid millisecond-interval strobe lights (For the technical-illiterate, think dance floor-style bursts of light). Resultantly, the audience only gets glimpses of what the Oscorp heir is becoming as he crawls towards the iconic Green Glider and Suit. The symbolism here is almost poetic. What is left to our imagination adds to the sinisterness of the Green Goblin, which is precisely the right tone that should be set in anticipation of Spider-Man’s arch-nemesis. Bravo.
Electro’s (played by Jamie Foxx) first public showdown is another noteworthy, pun intended, moment. Electro’s eerie thoughts that prompt him to turn from gap-toothed misfit to villain are presented in an angry electronically-altered rap voice against a backdrop of naturally epic Hans Zimmer-scored music. It sounds like typical Eminem material with film score backing, but we buy it. More importantly, the song’s (if we can call it that) justification of the harmless Max Dillon’s all too quick transition into the mass-murdering walking-battery makes the character more believable for audiences.
But where Spider-Man 2 falls short, maybe even crashing on its face, is the effective use of the multiple-villains-one-hero formula. Electro and Green Goblin naturally and predictably join forces, but this valuable resource is almost offensively wasted when the film’s two resident baddies don’t work together Avengers-style against Spidey on the battlefield (a la Sandman and Venom). The disappointing result is two one-on-one showdowns, with the Green Goblin fight too short for satisfaction. If the director’s odd intention was for audiences to feel both overloaded and unsatisfied, then they succeeded.
Spidey 2 also swings and misses in character development. Too much time was dedicated to emphasising the EQ-deficiency in the otherwise genius Max Dillon, as if the audience could not notice that in the first 3 seconds after meeting Dillon. Such precious screen time would have been better spent highlighting humanity’s complete disregard for the man who would become Electro. Without the sufficient dose of pity, several Electro moments rub off as bizarre because the audience cannot fully understand why the former harmless electrician was so determined to roast New Yorkers.
Spidey, with all his superpowers, and Gwen are not immune from this weak character development . While both are relatable on the 21st-century-teen front, the audience builds no real emotional connection to either of them, which makes it hard for any tragedy to be genuinely tear-worthy.
For all it’s worth, The Amazing Spider-Man 2 is still entertaining and humourous, and features slick web-slinging action that should be caught in IMAX 3D.
The biggest shocker that audiences will walk away from is a fate-sealer with one of its major characters (unless you’re a comic book fan and might have seen this coming). But that is something to be discussed past the spoiler mark. Until then…
My rating: 3.0/5 (TALK-o-meter: “Okay, I guess? Could be better.”)