THE AMAZING SPIDER-MAN 2
Taking You For Another Spin
The sequel to the reboot of the web-slinging franchise boasts a refreshing new take on its protagonist, and is irrepressible in its energy despite feeling rushed and uneven.
12A, 142 min
The spider is back (again) in this disturbingly rapid re-spooling of the Spiderman story, and cute-as-a-button real-life couple Andrew Garfield and Emma Stone return as Peter Parker and Gwen Stacy respectively. However, there’s trouble a-brewing (it’s a comic-book film, duh?), what with our hero in emotional turmoil over Gwen’s father’s final words in the previous film, warning Spidey away from Gwen. So whilst deciding whether or not to continue his relationship with her, he accidentally helps in the genesis of two new villains – old friend Harry Osborn, who will become the Green Goblin (Dane DeHaan, doing his best angst-ridden teenager impression, but soulfully), and Oscorp workaholic Max Dillon (Jamie Foxx), with whom sparks may fly later on.
Before I go any further, this is very much a film for leaving logic and the hopes of a watertight plot at the door – there are several instances, even right at the beginning, that have you guffawing at the implausibility of it all. But the film seems to revel in it, as well as in its quirky, pleasingly old-fashioned spirit. And so, despite its evident faults, including its frenetic, jumpy transitions from scene to scene, it has such irrepressible energy and belief in its own story that it’s hard to complain (even though I often thought I probably should).
The balance of fun and a new take on the story is welcome. Yes, there are naysayers, and yes, it is probably too soon after the Sam Raimi trilogy, but it does genuinely feel revitalised and fresh. Garfield does a nice job of treading the line between confident and world-weary, Stone is as sparky as ever, and Dane DeHaan properly marks himself out as one to watch.
Despite the fact that they tend to get lost in the mire of special effects, multiple plotlines and the chop-changing from romance to action, the villains’ backstories are also done well. Their motivations are clear from the off – they are painted as victims, as good people who were always going to be forced into difficult situations and perhaps had no choice but to go bad, and this (brief) line in thoughtfulness gives the film an unexpected edge. Yes, Jamie Foxx’s lines are hilariously bad at times, but when he plays it so straight it’s hard not to admire his character, and when the story is having so much fun zipping around all over the shop, it’s tough not to get swept up in it.
And as per every big superhero film nowadays, it comes accompanied by a thundering, bombastic score. This time it’s courtesy of Hans Zimmer, a frequent provider of awesome tunes, despite his apparent self-plagiarism in 12 Years A Slave (seriously, listen to ‘Solomon’ from 12 Years and ‘Time’ from Inception). Pharrell Williams and Johnny Marr, among others, also contribute, with the centrepiece being a foot-tapping, pleasingly old school theme tune that really reels you in (pun possibly intended).
There’s also a welcome departure from the norm – the girl is not just the damsel in distress here, but actually has a genuine (and in some cases big) impact on the plot. It shows that the romance is not just a side-story, but a fundamental element in the life of any hero (and anyone). This is also unlike most superhero films, where after a bit of a commotion, the hero is able to cut all ties fairly easily, then go and kick ass. Given that, go Garstone, or Stonefield, or whatever the blazes they’ve been christened in real life.
There is a note of pathos near the end, however, showing similarities to the Raimi spider-sequel, but when the final scene slings into place, you may have a whacking great grin on your face. In all seriousness, when the credits started rolling to that cheery theme tune, the (admittedly mostly French) audience in my cinema applauded – for quite a while. Personally, The Amazing Spider-Man 2 isn’t perfect, but it’s optimistic, and that’ll certainly do for now. Give it a couple of days and we’ll see how the rest of the blockbuster crop start measuring up, as I expect great things – but this is by no means a bad place to start.