Movie Review: The Amazing Spider-Man 2

Time to make good use of an extremely rare case where Australia gets a huge movie before the US does.

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Starring:
Andrew Garfield, Jamie Foxx, Emma Stone
Director:
Marc Webb (500 Days of Summer, The Amazing Spider-Man)
Rating: M
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I’m still questioning why the first Amazing Spider-Man had to play out the way it did in 2012. Sure, I get the business reasons behind Sony Pictures wanting to keep the Spider-Man license and thus needing to churn out another film within a certain number of years after the conclusion of the Sam Raimi trilogy of Spidey flicks. But I’m sure I don’t stand alone in the camp of people wondering why said situation had to mean a reboot functioning almost identically to the first 2002 Spider-Man. The Amazing Spider-Man 2 presents an opportunity for the aptly named Marc Webb and his gang to kick on, having established their groundwork, and show what sets this new version of Spider-Man apart from the mostly well-regarded Raimi movies. In this regard, ASM2 succeeds, which is great, but disappointingly it fails to learn from the mistakes that plagued Raimi‘s Spider-Man 3 – the one that had too many villains vying for attention. It’s just a wee bit over-indulgent.

First things first: Andrew Garfield really is an amazing Spider-Man. I realise there are fans who prefer Tobey Maguire‘s much more subdued, insecure take on Peter Parker and his spandex-clad alter ego, but coming from a position of very limited comic book background, I dig the hell out of Garfield‘s sassy, fast-talking, cocksure version of the web slinger. Garfield was the best thing about the reboot of two years ago and he is still the best reason to stay interested in what is going on throughout the lengthy plot of ASM2Emma Stone as the equally feisty Gwen Stacy has tremendous chemistry with Garfield, no doubt owing to their real-life relationship, and watching the two on the same screen provides some of the film’s best moments. Given that the director is Webb, who helmed the delightful indie rom-com 500 Days of Summer, this doesn’t come as too much of a surprise.

A lot of ASM2‘s marketing has focused on the multiple villains present in the film, but it bears mention that the way they are handled is largely hit-and-miss. For example, even though the alternate title of the movie is literally The Amazing Spider-Man 2: Rise of Electro, Jamie Foxx‘s titular lightning villain disappears for a large chunk of the extensive running time. Given the amount of screentime devoted to Foxx‘s character before he suffers his obligatory freak accident, it’s a bit of an odd choice that doesn’t sit well.

Luckily (if you look at it a certain way), this leaves room for Chronicle‘s Dane DeHaan to step in with his chilling take on Harry Osborn, previously played by James Franco in Raimi‘s trilogy. While his presence does overstuff an already long film, and there are aspects of his characterisation that smack of opportunistic advertising for Sony’s upcoming Sinister Six movie, anyone who has seen any of the young powerhouse’s previous work will know just how good he is at embodying onscreen villainy and he solidifies his reputation here.

Then there is Paul Giamatti‘s Rhino, who doesn’t shake out so much as a character as a screaming cartoon without so much as five minutes total face time. Putting his suit on a promotional poster is flat-out misleading.

When The Amazing Spider-Man 2 is in motion, it looks good. Clever use of slow motion, tricky camera angles, plenty of sparkles and an unexpectedly cool choice for an opening action set piece ensure you get your money’s worth in the “superhero movie visuals” department. But a large chunk of the surrounding movie is weirdly positioned and largely unnecessary. I thought the movie was going to end twice before it actually did. Superhero movies can be long and consistently engaging at the same time, but ASM2 is only the former. It has enough cool moments to warrant a watch, particularly if you’re a fan of Garfield‘s take on Spidey, but there are better films in cinemas right now. Hopefully the upcoming X-Men: Days of Future Past fares better as a non-Marvel Studios superhero film challenger.

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THE VERDICT

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Good:
Garfield is still great in the role, action is impressive, DeHaan rocks
Bad:
Several characters handled poorly, just so unnecessarily long
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3 VsS O L I D

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