Friday 18 April 2014

Film Review: The Amazing Spider-man 2

Director: Marc Webb
Starring: Andrew Garfield, Emma Stone, Dane DeHaan, Jamie Foxx, Paul Giamatti, Chris Cooper, Felicity Jones

Spider-man, Spider-man, does whatever a spider can. Spins a web, any size, catches thieves, just like flies, comes the Spider-man.

Now I have that off my chest, let's get on with it shall we? Rise of Electro is the sequel to 2012's Spidey reboot, Amazing Spider-man. So, what's the verdict - does this sequel live up to its 'amazing' namesake?

"Bah", many film critics responded upon the release of the first Amazing Spider-man film in 2012. "It'll never live up to Raimi's original trilogy." You know what I'm talking about - all those naysayers who have written Marc Webb's Spidey series as being 'too similar', 'too safe' or simply 'not as original'.

Well, you know what? They couldn't be more wrong. Not only is The Amazing Spider-man 2 the best Spider-man film yet, it's also the ballsiest, wittiest, most energetic too. Round of applause Mr. Webb, this is the definitive Spider-man story.

So, where do we start? First off, what is the premise of this sequel? Well, Rise of Electro (an unnecessary and messy subtitle) sees Peter Parker (the cartoonish Andrew Garfield) and Gwen Stacy (the fantastic Emma Stone) forced apart by a promise Peter made to her late father as he passed away in the finale of the first film; to stay away from Gwen, and keep her out of trouble. Heart-broken and alone, Parker can find solace in the fact that Spider-man is now a hero to New York City, widely celebrated and admired by millions of people.

However, it isn't long before a series of villains wreak havoc on both Peter's city and his life; transformed into a walking lightning storm after falling into a vat of experimental electric eels (as you do), Max Dillon (Jamie Foxx) becomes Electro, a dangerous super-villain hell-bent of revenge and consuming all the power in the city.

In terms of casting, it's becoming increasingly hard to imagine anyone other than the brilliant Andrew Garfield as Peter Parker - a life-long Spider-man fan, Garfield's love of the role oozes out of every pore and this comes across in the film. You can just tell that he loves playing Spider-man, like a kid let loose in an ice-cream factory. Whether it is as Parker or the lycra-clad arachnid, Garfield is hilarious, heart-wrenching and hard to top.

Andrew Garfield and Emma Stone are the best aspect of
this film - it works as both a comic-book film, and a love story.
The same can be said of Emma Stone in the role of Gwen Stacy. I really like how this new series has written Stone's character; she's clever, she has ambition, she has her own life. She isn't the damsel in distress 24/7. She makes her own choices, and is very much an equal to Peter. Her and Garfield are the best thing about this film. Hands down, the two produce some of the funniest and most genuine scenes in the movie. The dialogue between the pair, which I suspect is most likely ad-libbed, is laugh-out-loud funny,  as it zings back and forth. Not just that, but the pair posses this infectious on-screen chemistry, one that elevates this film above generic superhero fare and into emotional-laden love-story.

An issue that could be levelled at Rise of Electro is that Electro himself isn't really the primary antagonist; that mantle falls to Dane DeHaan's desperate Harry Osborn. Foxx gets a nicely handled intro and origin story, but is soon relegated into side-character status by Harry's spiral into despair. It's a shame, because he's not half-bad as the villain. Sure, he looks a little silly and spews some absurd one-liners, but it's all good fun. Some people might roll their eyes and scoff, but I thought it was a decent take on the iconic Spidey villain.

Dane DeHaan's take on Harry Osborn was also a plus - there were elements I didn't like (Harry and Peter become best-buds after eight years of not seeing each other in about five minutes), but on the whole, I felt that DeHaan did a much better job than James Franco. Also joining the cast was Felicity Jones as Felicia, an assistant of Harry's at Oscorp. She had very little to do, but I got the sense she'll come into play more in further instalments - the same of which can be said for Paul Giamatti's wonderfully goofy cameo as The Rhino.

In terms of the visuals, director Marc Webb does a great job with the head-spinning action and eye-popping colours. Spider-man is always going to be a character for which shooting the action sequences, as Spidey flings and swoops his way across the scene, can allow for inventive, eye-catching shots. Webb does exactly that, with the action reaching new levels of quality for the series. It's quick, punchy and thrilling.

As the film plumbed further into the run-time, I found that I liked it more and more. It starts off as good as any, with throwbacks to the previous film establishing Peter and Gwen's multi-layered and complicated relationship. As the film winds its way though points such as Peter's parents, Gwen's future in London, Harry's return to New York, Max's downfall and Aunt May's struggles, there are some strands that might feel lost at first.

However, it all comes good in the end, with Webb's intricate web of plot-lines (pun intended) neatly coming to a heart-pounding conclusion that ties up all the seeds planted throughout the film. It's in the film's final third that things kick into a higher gear, with equal parts web-slinging action and choking character drama causing the film to reach a sublime crescendo. Despite being nearly two and a half hours long, I didn't feel like the plot dragged, with the interlocking plot devices keeping the wheels turning through the films dense middle.

On the whole, it's a very well-rounded and balanced film with excellence at each end of the scale - many may disregard this given that it isn't the first second Spider-man film, but make no mistake; Spider-man, Webb and the whole affair have just scaled dizzying new heights.

The Verdict: 8.5/10 

The Amazing Spider-man 2: Rise of Electro is the best film starring New York's web-slinger yet. It improves on all of the first films failings, and then some. The lead duo of Garfield and Stone are perfect, with DeHaan and Foxx making for wonderfully OTT enemies. Webb's confident direction is reinforced by the hilarious script, glittering visuals and ongoing franchise building. Superb.


  1. Heh, I'm glad that the movie didn't carry its sub-title over to the states, as it really isn't very fitting. :P But yeah, I thought the movie was decent, if not quite as well-rounded as you thought. It was messy, but the good is damn good. Nice review. :)

    1. Awesome, thanks Chris! Gotta say, Electro was one of the weaker elements to this film - but as Spidey films go, this one is a stark improvement over the previous ASM :)



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