The Amazing Spider-Man 2 (12)
Directed by: Marc Webb
Starring: Andrew Garfield, Emma Stone & Jamie Foxx
Running time: 142 min
Peter Parker runs the gauntlet as the mysterious company Oscorp sends up a slew of supervillains against him, impacting on his life.
Picking up pretty soon after the first movie, this time out Peter Parker (Garfield) AKA Spider-man has moved on in school and is a much more confident crime fighter, finally becoming the wisecracking, yet vulnerable, hero we know and love from the comics and he is in a relationship with Gwen (Stone) although the promise he made to her dying father in the first movie lies heavy on him and is the only thing that seems to be going wrong in his life.
Along the way we meet Max Dillon (Foxx) an electrical engineer at Oscorp who is arguably one of the most pathetic characters in the Marvel universe… at least in this incarnation. Oh, and speaking of Oscorp, Peter’s old friend Harry (Dane DeHaan) has just returned to New York to be by the side of his dying father, Norman, (Chris Cooper). Throw in the Russian Mafia madman Aleksei Sytsevich (Paul Giamatti) and the ever-present mystery of what exactly happened Peter’s parents into the mix and it’s fair to say that there’s a lot going on here.
And that was certainly a worry for many people, fearing a disaster of Raimi’s Spider-man 3 proportions or – gasp – Batman and Robin! But relax, for all its faults, it’s nowhere near that level of over-full. Or bad.
In fact the problem is more one of over blown. At almost two and a half hours, the movie has a very flabby midsection that seems more concerned with Gwen and Peter’s romance, often at the expense of the mystery of his parents or expanding upon the relationship between Peter and Harry, which should be the backbone of the movie in many ways, but, while both performers are perfectly fine in the roles, it feels rushed and never quite rings true.
Instead, when not focusing on Peter and Gwen making puppy eyes, it’s focussed on Jamie Foxx’s Max Dillon. And, again, while there’s nothing wrong with the performance Foxx puts in, Dillon really – and I know this sounds crazy given the context – is too cartoony. There is very little realistic about him pre-transformation into super villain. And I have no problem with him being sympathetic, in fact I love a tragic villain, but he is simply… unbelievably pathetic.
In fact the villains all suffer from this, really being over the top comic book villains. Or what we would call comic book villains because if you look at the calibre of comic book villains we’ve been given in recent years, these creations, while fun, are a little jarring in places.
And there is a real feeling of urgency in the universe building. After this movie there’s a universe akin to that in the Avengers movies which did feel somewhat rushed – there are quite a few cameos characters here and no doubt bigger fans than me will catch some I missed, but we must be careful because even in the comics every character isn’t a villain or hero or part of a bigger comic universe…
But that’s the bad, which is unfair because there is so much good here too. The performances are great, especially in the principals. Garfield is so good as Parker/Spidey, filling the character with just the right amount of vulnerable and cocky, his humour works well and his love for Gwen and companionship with Harry feel spot on – even if they are given inappropriate amounts of screen time. So too do Stone and DeHaan really shine, both real characters on very different paths and important to Peter Parker, they both get time to shine in the roles.
Foxx as Dillon/Electro is fine, although the script doesn’t exactly serve him as much as it should and becomes a little confused around the halfway mark as to which characters we should be focusing on.
But where the movie really excels, as it should since it’s Spider-man, is the spectacle and action scenes. And they are peppered throughout the movie very liberally although the opening scene has an inspired sequence in the back of a lorry that is so inventive and funny that the movie is almost in danger of peaking – from an action standpoint – too soon.
Overall The Amazing Spider-man 2 is a fairly satisfactory experience, full of fun and excitement and solid performances and a more confident director in Marc Webb this time around who almost felt first time out that he was afraid to make Spidey really cut loose. The movie is a much bigger affair this time out too and certainly is full of fun bits and nods to the source material although it does dance dangerously close to the fault line of too much too soon and you can’t help wonder if it really should have left more for the follow up movies, arguably a couple of the villains in this were almost afterthoughts and would have served better given more time – and, and while I won’t divulge if we see a certain Daily Bugle editor, what I will say is his presence is well handled and very fun.
But in the end, the running time is too much and the pacing is erratic, focusing in the wrong places for the wrong amount of time, resulting in a mid-section that could easily lose fifteen minutes and some characters that aren’t given the time – or respect – they deserve.
But, when all is said and done, it may have it’s faults but it is fun and it definitely leaves you wanting more…
3 out of 5 Nerds