Having battled the lackluster Lizard, not to mention skeptical critics, in the first film The Amazing Spider-Man 2 swings into cinemas with no small amount of a point to prove. Whilst some questioned re-booting a franchise so soon after it’s original trilogy had come to an end Marc Webb’s Spider-Man offered less cartoonish thrills than Sam Raimi’s films but found a trump card in Andrew Garfield and Emma Stone’s on screen chemistry. So does The Amazing Spider-Man 2 spin a captivating web or get flushed down the drain?
Still haunted by the death of Gwen’s father in the first film Peter Parker (Andrew Garfield) aka Spider-Man fears that his secret identity could get Gwen (Emma Stone) in all manner of trouble, or worse, so breaks up with her. And just in time as Oscorp electrician Max (Jamie Foxx) is transformed into the all-powerful Electro. If that wasn’t bad enough Harry Osborn (Dane DeHaan), Peter’s oldest friend, is dying and on a deadly path of self-discovery.
Raimi’s Spiderman 2 was the highlight of the original franchise so competing with it is no small task. And while this Amazing Spider-Man is not perfect it certainly aims high and almost hits it’s lofty aspirations. Clearly coming from The Empire Strikes Back school of thought The Amazing Spider-Man 2 goes darker, much darker than the first film. It helps that there’s a search for a missing father, the bad guys are more powerful and to top it all off the emotional stakes have never been higher.
Yes, at times it suffers slightly from Spiderman 3 syndrome of having one too many villains and plot threads but Marc Webb keeps things rattling along at a pace that never wavers. Furthermore it’s hands down the most blistering visual Spider-Man movie to date. Webb utilises every trick and CGI gizmo in the book to put us firmly in Spider-Man’s building leaping, web-swinging mask. His use of a Matrix-like Bullet-Time makes this a breathtaking rollercoaster of a ride. He’s helped no end by Hans Zimmer’s typically epic and hugely emotive score. In fact come the final scene as Zimmer’s score crescendos and Spider-Man rises once more it’s arguably the entire Spider-Man franchise’s greatest moment.
Dane DeHaan, rapidly proving himself as ‘the next big thing’ in acting if not star quality, is a little too pantomime as Harry, his early scenes should offer up something a little more broken rather than sneering billionaire sporting a bizarre Hitler-hair-do. If anything the script sells his talent short. Jamie Foxx meanwhile is enjoyably comic as Max but impressively god-like as Electro. It helps that the appearance of Electro is staggering, a pulsing blue menace that could easily be Watchmen’s Dr. Manhattan’s evil brother. Both villains are infinitely more engaging and interesting than the cardboard cut-out, black-hole villains of this summer’s Guardians Of The Galaxy.
But once again this Amazing Spider-Man hangs its heart firmly on Garfield and Stone. And it is in their relationship thread of the story that you remain completely enamoured. If anything when the main plot kicks in your feel slightly cheated at their absence. Stone does that smart cute thing with grace, always remaining just that little bit intellectually sharper than Peter to give him a run for his money. Garfield meanwhile does a perfect juggling act. Cocky and chirpy in his Spider-Man guise his Peter meanwhile is a little bit broken hiding behind a mask of quick comebacks. But when he unleashes the emotion he does so with tear-jerkin affect.
This Amazing Spider-Man 2 may circle the waterspout of superhero cliché at times but by the end it’s nearly impossible not to be rooting for him and punching the air in web-slinging delight.