Thursday 1 May 2014

Review: The Amazing Spiderman 2

Year: 2014
Director: Marc Webb
Screenplay: Alex Kurtzman, Roberto Orci, Jeff Pinkner
Starring: Andrew Garfield, Emma Stone, Jamie Foxx, Dane DeHaan, Colm Feore, Felicity Jones, Campbell Scott, Embeth Davidtz, Paul Giamatti, Sally Field,

Synopsis is here:

Two years ago on what was likely to be a wet day in Peterborough (can't remember), I found myself leaving The Amazing Spiderman (2012) with a beleaguered look on my face. Sony’s redeux of the story felt more like the contract cash grab by many people, including myself. I found it not only to be wallowing in its own angst, but also quite dull in its execution. I can’t honestly think of a moment or sequence that truly stuck with me after it’s 136 minute running time.

Now in 2014, on a wet weekday in High Wycombe, I once again found myself struggling to find myself enthused with Marc Webb’s second entry to this rebooted canon. Although it’s worth noting that The Amazing Spiderman 2 shows a large improvement from the previous film.

Webb once again shows that his strength lies within the bonds he forms with the relationships. As much as I enjoyed the Sam Raimi movies, it’s Webb that really seems to nail the dynamics of these comic creations. Garfield and Stone really click as a couple, while Sally Field is most certainly a stronger Aunt May. With the likes of Andrew Garfield (Peter Parker) and Dane DeHann (Harry Osborne) in place of Toby Maguire and James Franco respectively, one may feel that Webb has lucked out with a better suited cast, yet there’s an affection that Webb coaxes of situations that Raimi overlooked. The dynamics between Garfield, DeHann and Stone (Gwen Stacey) in quieter scenes have better judgement than that of Raimi's. It helps that Webb and the screenwriters have clearly matured the characters and toned down the angst somewhat, although the role of Gwen Stacey feels underdeveloped.

The film's action is strangely forgettable. Despite the clear improvements to Spiderman’s web slinging and New York swinging (the opening intro trounces anything Raimi in the air), the films actual set pieces don’t really have too much to say and still feel slack on the physical front. They also feel odd in terms of pacing. The sequences don’t particularly feel well balanced to all the downtime we share with Peter as he tries to patch his personal issues. The Amazing Spiderman 2’s set pieces seem to finish quite quickly (with certain villains suffering under the too many antagonists theory). They also don’t feel that connected to the narrative. The film's opening and climax are very guilty parties, feeling more tacked on than they should. Of course, like so many of these adaptations, both the beginning and end are really about the NEXT escapade and to try and get you hooked on what comes next. More shadowy figures for Roberto Orci to get his teeth into.

It’s a shame The Amazing Spiderman 2 doesn’t reach the kind of heights we now expect for a second entry of a these recent franchise. The film feels less rushed, but still doesn’t define it’s villains as well as the previous series. The relationships work well, but the narrative still buckles under the strain of having to balance so many plates.

We get a film which is still more of a simple distraction than anything really distinctive. Even Jamie Foxx's Electro feels more of an echo of Jim Carrey in Batman Forever (1995) than anything particularly idiosyncratic. The most unfortunate thing about this is that Garfield is the better Peter Parker by quite a long way. I wish they could combine his smart-Alec attitude with Raimi’s knock around vibrancy. Then again, we all know that comic books do a great job at alternate universes. Maybe something for Sony to perhaps chew on while they slap their products all over their films.